Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Saint Andrew`s Day

Juan de las Roelas
1560 - 1625
The Martyrdom of St Andrew c. 1612
Oil on canvas
Museo de Bellas Artes, Seville

In Patras in Greece, Andrew converted Maximilla, the wife of Aegeus the Roman Governor of Patras in the Peloponnesos, with whom he had a number of profound discussions.

Upon refusing to obey the proconsul's order to make a sacrifice to the pagan gods, Andrew was imprisoned and then bound to an X-shaped cross

Bartolomé Esteban Murillo ca.1617-1682
El martirio de San Andrés / The Martyrdom of St Andrew1675 - 1682
Oil on canvas
123 cm x 162 cm
Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid

On St Andrew`s Day 2006, Pope Benedict XVI said:

"This Divine Liturgy celebrated on the Feast of Saint Andrew the Apostle, Patron Saint of the Church of Constantinople, brings us back to the early Church, to the age of the Apostles.

The Gospels of Mark and Matthew relate how Jesus called the two brothers, Simon, whom Jesus calls Cephas or Peter, and Andrew: “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Mt 4:19, Mk 1:17). The Fourth Gospel also presents Andrew as the first to be called, “ho protoklitos”, as he is known in the Byzantine tradition. It is Andrew who then brings his brother Simon to Jesus (cf. Jn 1:40f.). ...

The two brothers, Simon, called Peter, and Andrew, were fishermen whom Jesus called to become fishers of men. The Risen Lord, before his Ascension, sent them out together with the other Apostles with the mission of making all nations his disciples, baptizing them and proclaiming his teachings (cf. Mt 28:19ff.; Lk 24:47; Acts 1:8). ...

This same task, however, took on a different form for each of the brothers ...

Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, received another task from the Lord, one which his very name suggests.

As one who spoke the Greek language, he became – together with Philip – the Apostle of the encounter with the Greeks who came to Jesus (cf. Jn 12:20ff.). Tradition tells us that he was a missionary not only in Asia Minor and the territories south of the Black Sea, that is, in this very region, but also in Greece, where he suffered martyrdom.

The Apostle Andrew, therefore, represents the meeting between early Christianity and Greek culture.

This encounter, particularly in Asia Minor, became possible thanks especially to the great Cappadocian Fathers, who enriched the liturgy, theology and spirituality of both the Eastern and the Western Churches. The Christian message, like the grain of wheat (cf. Jn 12:24), fell on this land and bore much fruit.

We must be profoundly grateful for the heritage that emerged from the fruitful encounter between the Christian message and Hellenic culture. It has had an enduring impact on the Churches of East and West. The Greek Fathers have left us a store of treasure from which the Church continues to draw riches old and new (cf. Mt 13:52)."

(Address of Pope Benedict XVI at the Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom on the Feast of Saint Andrew the Apostle 30 November 2006 at the Patriarchal Church of Saint George in the Phanar, Istanbul)

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Centurion's Servant

Paolo Caliari (Il Veronese) (1528-1588)
Der Hauptmann von Capernaum vor Christus
The Centurion of Capharnaum before Christ
Oil on canvas
1.78m x 2.75m
Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Dresden, Germany

This is a later version of Veronese's celebrated representation of Christ and the Centurion of Capernaum which is in the Prado. It is a difficult subject. There is no action: only conversation. The action (the cure of the slave) happens miles away "offstage"

This copy in Dresden was acquired in 1747 by Augustus III

The first recognised paintings in sixteenth-century Venice that dealt with the subject matter of the Centurion were those executed by Veronese and his workshop

The painting depicts the events described in Matthew 8:5-13 and Luke 7:1-10 Veronese`s version is more Matthew than Luke.

In Matthew, a centurion comes to Christ upon the letter's entry into Capernaum end begs him to heal his paralysed servant; the act of healing takes place during this encounter.

"5 And when he had entered into Capernaum, a centurion approached, petitioning him,
6 and saying, “Lord, my servant lies at home paralyzed and badly tormented.”
7 And Jesus said to him, “I will come and heal him.”
8 And responding, the centurion said: “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant shall be healed.
9 For I, too, am a man placed under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
10 And, hearing this, Jesus wondered. And he said to those following him: “Amen I say to you, I have not found so great a faith in Israel.
11 For I say to you, that many shall come from the east and the west, and they shall sit at table with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.
12 But the sons of the kingdom shall be cast into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
13 And Jesus said to the centurion, “Go, and just as you have believed, so let it be done for you.” And the servant was healed at that very hour.

In Luke, the centurion sends Jewish elders to ask Christ to save the life of his slave who is at the point of death, and when Christ is nearing the house, he sends his friends; again because of the centurion's great faith, his request is granted.

"1 When he had finished all his words to the people, he entered Capernaum.
2 A centurion there had a slave who was ill and about to die, and he was valuable to him.
3 When he heard about Jesus, he sent elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and save the life of his slave.
4 They approached Jesus and strongly urged him to come, saying, "He deserves to have you do this for him,
5 for he loves our nation and he built the synagogue for us."
6 And Jesus went with them, but when he was only a short distance from the house, the centurion sent friends to tell him, "Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof.
7 Therefore, I did not consider myself worthy to come to you; but say the word and let my servant be healed.
8 For I too am a person subject to authority, with soldiers subject to me. And I say to one, 'Go,' and he goes; and to another, 'Come here,' and he comes; and to my slave, 'Do this,' and he does it."
9 When Jesus heard this he was amazed at him and, turning, said to the crowd following him, "I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith."
10 When the messengers returned to the house, they found the slave in good health."

There are differences in the two versions.

Today`s Gospel at the beginning of Advent is the account in Matthew.

Abbot Cuthbert Johnston gives an interesting meditation on today`s Gospel and in particular on the words of the Centurion:

"The gospel of today to calls us to reflect upon that personal encounter with Christ who comes to us and manifests himself to us in the breaking of the bread. From the lips of the centurion in today’s gospel we have the words which have been used by countless generations of believers as the immediate preparation for the coming of the Lord in the Sacrament of his Body and Blood:

"Lord, I am not worthy to receive you but only say the word, and I shall be healed”.

We read in the gospel of Saint Matthew that upon hearing the centurion’s words the Lord marvelled, and said that not even in Israel had he found such faith. We too should marvel when we consider how many millions of times, in every part of the world and in so many languages these words have been repeated.

The centurion, the unknown soldier of the gospel, was able with his word of faith, make the Word of God marvel, has found an exalted place in the Liturgy. His words which are placed on our lips are linked to the great mystery of faith and the most sacred moment of communion with the Body and Blood of the Lord.

The anonymous centurion’s words have been on the lips of countless Saints, on the lips of repentant sinners, they have been repeated with devotion and fervour by all who love the Lord and approach his holy table to receive the bread of life.

When these words are on our lips, let them also be in our heart, for we are called to be among those whom the Lord declared would come “from east and west and sit at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven”. "

This event at Capharnaum is only one of the two recorded events at which Jesus was said to be astonished or amazed. The other is in Mark 6:6 when Jesus is said to be amazed at the lack of faith of the people of Nazareth and when he did not perform miracles.

One of the most striking depictions of this scene is by the British artist, Sir Stanley Spencer 1891-1959 at the Tate Gallery, London. It depicts the servant.

Sir Stanley Spencer 1891-1959
The Centurion's Servant 1914
Oil on canvas
1143 x 1143 mm
Tate Gallery, London

In Issue 18 / Spring 2010 of Tate Etc, Shirin Spencer (the daughter of Sir Stanley Spencer) provides an insight into the background of the painting and a letter her father sent to Henry Lamb regarding The Centurion’s Servant

She said:

"The picture is and isn’t about war – it’s about healing and redemption; but without the war, would it have been painted?

Three of Stanley’s older brothers had joined up at or near the beginning of the war, but Stanley and his younger brother Gil (Gilbert) did not enlist until 1915. In the meantime, they tried to concentrate on their painting and did first aid and drilling in Maidenhead. They were not dare-devils, but they were as ready to go as most of the young men in that village or elsewhere ...

The months between the outset of war and July 1915 were probably the most frustrating and distressing of his young life.

“The more beastly the stories become, the more I feel I ought to go and do something… Gil walks around like a lump of lead.”

His brother Will played Beethoven’s Hammerklavier Sonata.

“The slow movement makes me think the world’s nearly coming to an end.”

For me, the most poignant of the statements is:

“When I feel the horror of war most is when I go to bed.”

When brother Sydney was on leave they would share a bed. He wrote in his diary how Stanley tossed and turned, and it was during those months that Stanley painted The Centurion’s Servant. ...

I think that this is a picture of hope. The servant will rise and greet his friends, and Stanley has found an oasis of peace and joy – and the strength to paint a miracle."

In 1915, the Royal Army Medical Corps took Spencer away from Cookham for the first time in his life after he volunteered to join up. His war service lasted till 1919. The effect was indelible.

Spencer had planned to make the painting one part of a diptych. Christ and the Centurion was to be the theme of the other companion painting.

In The Centurion`s Servant, the male figure on the bed has the visage of a young Spencer. Note also that each of the figures has their own individual "praying positions", as Spencer called them. The scene is set in 1914. Christ's miracle of healing at a distance is located in the maid's bedroom of the Spencer family's home, with his own siblings serving as the actors. The Spencer family was very religious. The vision is that of Luke rather than Matthew.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Coming of Advent

Michelangelo Merisi (Caravaggio) (1571 - 1610)
Madonna di Loreto (Madonna dei Pellegrini)
Oil on canvas
260 x 150 cm
Capella Cavalletti, Chiesa di Sant`Agostino, Rome

Michelangelo Merisi (Caravaggio) (1571 - 1610)
Madonna dei Palafrenieri (Madonna and Child with St. Anne)
Oil on canvas
292 x 211 cm
Galleria Borghese, Rome

The woman modelling Mary appears to be the same in both paintings. It appears to be Una or Lena - short for Maddalena - who was, according to a criminal complaint, 'to be found standing in Piazza Navona', three minutes walk from S. Agostino, and 'who is Caravaggio's woman'.

Apparently she came from a poor but honourable family and demanded a substantial fee for posing for the pictures.

The Madonna dei Palafrenieri was commissioned for the altar of Archconfraternity of the Papal Grooms (Arciconfraternita di Sant'Anna de Parafrenieri) in the Basilica of Saint Peter but then sold to Cardinal Scipione Borghese.

For contemporaries of Caravaggio it would have been at first an astonishing and shocking depiction: the old and shrivelled St Anne, both Madonna and Child are barefoot; the Madonna showing her cleavage; the naked Christ; the sheer ordinariness of Mary; the poverty of the Holy Family in what appears to be an ordinary Rome tenement

The Madonna di Loreto would have only been slightly less of a shock but is still in the place for which it was commissioned.

The setting for the The Madonna di Loreto is in fact just round the corner from where the Chiesa di Sant`Agostino is situated. Indeed Caravaggio lived in the neighbourhood at the time.

Previous images of the Madonna of Loreto showed the house at Loreto itself or showed the cult statue of the Madonna and Child. Caravaggio shows Mary’s house and image first appearing to humble woodcutters or pilgrims but they are situated in the neighbourhood of the Church in Rome contemporaneous to the painting of the work.

“Simple” affective piety and miracle worship of the illiterate is combined with living, breathing, emotionally dramatic, naturalistic human beings and scenes to produce a work of great depth operating on many levels which was attractive and compelling for the widest possible audience

As Pope Benedict XVI said of today, so also of the Counter-Reformation Pentecost in post-Tridentine Rome in the 17th century:

“[I]n the Church there is also a Pentecost today – in other words, the Church speaks in many tongues, and not only outwardly, in the sense that all the great languages of the world are represented in her, but, more profoundly, inasmuch as present within her are various ways of experiencing God and the world, a wealth of cultures, and only in this way do we come to see the vastness of the human experience and, as a result, the vastness of the word of God”. [Benedict XVI, Address to the Roman Curia (22 December 2008): AAS 101 (2009), 50]

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Eugenics Society

The Wellcome Library is part of the Wellcome Foundation based in London

It has recently performed a public service. It recently announced that the complete archive of the Eugenics Review journal - from 1909 through to 1968 when the title ceased - has been digitised through the Wellcome Library's Backfile Digitisation Project, and is now freely available at PubMed Central

The Journal was the official journal of the Eugenics Education Society (later known as just the Eugenics Society)

The Eugenics Society was founded to promote public awareness of eugenic problems, i.e. the existence of hereditary qualities both positive and negative, and the need to encourage social responsibility with respect to these qualities.

The Wellcome Library also holds the archives of the Eugenics Society.

The Society still exists: It is now known as The Galton Institute

It is customary for historians to trace the origins of the closely related ideological currents of Social Darwinism and eugenics to Britain, and especially to the statistician Francis Galton (1822–1911).

Historians have focused on eugenics and sterilization in Britain, North America and Germany. But eugenics became more than a variation of anti-Semitism and racism: it was influential in social policy (population growth and the poor) and professionalism.

In Britain eugenics was taken up by a liberal intelligensia pursiong solutions to perceived social crises. In the early years of the twentieth century, these ideas spread through Britain`s Imperial role to Canada, Australia and other parts of the Empire.

Eugenics became an integral part of public health in terms of strategies aimed at tackling chronic degenerative diseases, mental illness and sexually transmitted diseases.

Similar movements grew up in the United States, Russia and Europe.

During the 1920s both Germany and the Soviet Union developed vigorous eugenic movements, and these states soon began to collaborate in areas of hygiene, social medicine and racial studies.

In the 1920s, eugenic movements flourished in Europe,

Eugenics became transformed from its initial, “positive,” preoccupation with social and medical assistance, to the propagation of “negative” measures such as sterilization and clinical confinement,and during the early 1920s, “racial hygiene” comprised the scientific model of hygiene and public health.

Eugenicists and racial nationalists debated the ethnic minority questions and proposed various measures, including birth control and sterilization, as well as transfer of populations, as possible solutions.

It has been said that the infusion of racial nationalism with eugenics between 1900 and 1940 is identifiable within three clusters of ideas and ideological commitments: the professionalization of medicine; the emergence of “scientific” versions of nationalism; and the fusion of völkisch biomedical ideology with anti-Semitism.

Against these ideas stood the Roman Catholic Church. In particular it was Pope Pius XI in his Encyclical Casti Connubii (31st December 1930) who made the Catholic position crystal clear and earned the disgust, disdain and hatred of eugenicists

He condemned laws for compulsory and voluntary abortion and sterilisation, laws forbidding marrriage and child bearing on eugenic grounds and other favoured eugenic projects:

"66. What is asserted in favor of the social and eugenic "indication" may and must be accepted, provided lawful and upright methods are employed within the proper limits; but to wish to put forward reasons based upon them for the killing of the innocent is unthinkable and contrary to the divine precept promulgated in the words of the Apostle: Evil is not to be done that good may come of it.

67. Those who hold the reins of government should not forget that it is the duty of public authority by appropriate laws and sanctions to defend the lives of the innocent, and this all the more so since those whose lives are endangered and assailed cannot defend themselves. Among whom we must mention in the first place infants hidden in the mother's womb. And if the public magistrates not only do not defend them, but by their laws and ordinances betray them to death at the hands of doctors or of others, let them remember that God is the Judge and Avenger of innocent blood which cried from earth to Heaven.

68. Finally, that pernicious practice must be condemned which closely touches upon the natural right of man to enter matrimony but affects also in a real way the welfare of the offspring. For there are some who over solicitous for the cause of eugenics, not only give salutary counsel for more certainly procuring the strength and health of the future child - which, indeed, is not contrary to right reason - but put eugenics before aims of a higher order, and by public authority wish to prevent from marrying all those whom, even though naturally fit for marriage, they consider, according to the norms and conjectures of their investigations, would, through hereditary transmission, bring forth defective offspring. And more, they wish to legislate to deprive these of that natural faculty by medical action despite their unwillingness; and this they do not propose as an infliction of grave punishment under the authority of the state for a crime committed, not to prevent future crimes by guilty persons, but against every right and good they wish the civil authority to arrogate to itself a power over a faculty which it never had and can never legitimately possess.

69. Those who act in this way are at fault in losing sight of the fact that the family is more sacred than the State and that men are begotten not for the earth and for time, but for Heaven and eternity. Although often these individuals are to be dissuaded from entering into matrimony, certainly it is wrong to brand men with the stigma of crime because they contract marriage, on the ground that, despite the fact that they are in every respect capable of matrimony, they will give birth only to defective children, even though they use all care and diligence.

70. Public magistrates have no direct power over the bodies of their subjects; therefore, where no crime has taken place and there is no cause present for grave punishment, they can never directly harm, or tamper with the integrity of the body, either for the reasons of eugenics or for any other reason. St. Thomas teaches this when inquiring whether human judges for the sake of preventing future evils can inflict punishment, he admits that the power indeed exists as regards certain other forms of evil, but justly and properly denies it as regards the maiming of the body. "No one who is guiltless may be punished by a human tribunal either by flogging to death, or mutilation, or by beating."

In looking through the various articles, letters and reviews of the Journal of the Eugenics Society, one can see two things:

1. The fundamental difference between the Catholic Church and the Eugenicists was in their respective views and appreciation of the human being. The Church has always been consistent. “Man is the source, the focus and the aim of all economic and social life” (Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et Spes, 63)

2. The same issues which arose in the period 1908 to 1968 arise today. The same arguments are being rehearsed over again. See Chapter Two: Human Development in Our Time" of Pope Benedict XVI`s Encyclical Caritas in Veritate

See in particular paragraph 28:

"28. One of the most striking aspects of development in the present day is the important question of respect for life, which cannot in any way be detached from questions concerning the development of peoples. It is an aspect which has acquired increasing prominence in recent times, obliging us to broaden our concept of poverty and underdevelopment to include questions connected with the acceptance of life, especially in cases where it is impeded in a variety of ways.

Not only does the situation of poverty still provoke high rates of infant mortality in many regions, but some parts of the world still experience practices of demographic control, on the part of governments that often promote contraception and even go so far as to impose abortion. In economically developed countries, legislation contrary to life is very widespread, and it has already shaped moral attitudes and praxis, contributing to the spread of an anti-birth mentality; frequent attempts are made to export this mentality to other States as if it were a form of cultural progress.

Some non-governmental Organizations work actively to spread abortion, at times promoting the practice of sterilization in poor countries, in some cases not even informing the women concerned. Moreover, there is reason to suspect that development aid is sometimes linked to specific health-care policies which de facto involve the imposition of strong birth control measures. Further grounds for concern are laws permitting euthanasia as well as pressure from lobby groups, nationally and internationally, in favour of its juridical recognition.

Openness to life is at the centre of true development. When a society moves towards the denial or suppression of life, it ends up no longer finding the necessary motivation and energy to strive for man's true good. If personal and social sensitivity towards the acceptance of a new life is lost, then other forms of acceptance that are valuable for society also wither away. The acceptance of life strengthens moral fibre and makes people capable of mutual help. By cultivating openness to life, wealthy peoples can better understand the needs of poor ones, they can avoid employing huge economic and intellectual resources to satisfy the selfish desires of their own citizens, and instead, they can promote virtuous action within the perspective of production that is morally sound and marked by solidarity, respecting the fundamental right to life of every people and every individual."

One of the great supporters and founders of the Eugenics Society was William Ralph Inge (6 June 1860 – 26 February 1954) Anglican priest, Professor of Divinity at Cambridge, and Dean of St Paul's Cathedral. He was one of the "Great and the Good" and highly influential in British society and in the Anglican Church, unfortunately.

One gets a taste of the man from some of his contributions which are quite shocking today:

What nations and classes will prevail?: Galton lecture, February 17th, 1919 Eugen Rev. 1919 April; 11(1): 17–20. PMCID: PMC2942156

Here are the Society`s views on Pius XI and Casti Connubii:

On catholicism: As revealed in the latest encyclical of his holiness Pope Pius XI   Eugen Rev. 1931 April; 23(1): 41–45. PMCID: PMC2985003

Notes of the Quarter  Eugen Rev. 1931 July; 23(2): 103–106. PMCID: PMC2985046

The Journal`s articles in the early decades of its existence about Reform of the Poor Law, the Sterilisation of "The Imbeciles", comments about those of the Jewish religion or of Irish extraction, and the Catholic Church and its members are self-revelatory.

The contributions by Havelock Ellis, Marie Stopes, Cyril Burt and Francis Galton and others make salutary reading.

One wonders why many regards these people as heroes. If such characters had been in the Catholic Church they would have been condemned and criticised.

See also:

Pope Pius XI: Against the Tide of Eugenics

Thursday, November 25, 2010

St Catherine of Siena: The Illiterate Doctor ?

Melchiore Caffa 1635 - 1667
The Ecstasy of St Catherine of Siena
Santa Catarina da Siena a Magnapoli, Rome

Caffa, a Maltese, was a follower but not a pupil or assistant of the great Bernini. Bernini acknowledged that Caffa was a better sculptor

But Caffa`s working life was tragically short - only 10 years.

The Ecstasy of St Catherine was commissioned for the Dominican order and is one of his masterpieces

The work invites comparison with Bernini`s Ecstasy of St Teresa of Avila.

For many Caffa`s depiction of religious ecsatasy is more subtle and credible than Bernini`s work.

It is only fitting that St Catherine of Siena, (25 March 1347 – 29 April 1380) one of the Doctors of the Church is so greatly commemorated and depicted.

I have a great affection for St Catherine and her writings. Reading about people who lived in Medieval times can often be frustrating. One`s knowledge if them is limited. Lack of knowledge means that one can only envisage a cardboard cut out. Their real characters are often unknown.

The opposite is true of St Catherine. She leaps out of the dry historical record, authoritative, attractive, vivacious, energetic, full of life, passionate but above all humorous and humble. Her life was the Church and devotion to Christ. If you ever visit Italy, you cannot ignore St Catherine. In Florence and Siena, her cult is still as strong as ever it was: if you had not heard of St Catherine before visiting either of those two cities, you will unfailingly know about her after your visit.

Two excellent websites on St Catherine and her works are:

Yesterday (24th November 2010) Pope Benedict gave an address on her life and works in his General Audience, part of the series of addresses on significant medieval women in the Church.

In his address the Pope stressed the importance of the "spiritual maternity" exercised by St Catherine and so many women in every age. He cited the saint as an exemplar to follow, and from whom one can learn to grow in holiness, love for the Lord and fidelity to his body, the Church.

"Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today I would like to speak to you about a woman who has had an eminent role in the history of the Church. She is St. Catherine of Siena. The century in which she lived -- the 14th -- was a troubled time for the life of the Church and for the whole social fabric in Italy and Europe.

However, even in the moments of greatest difficulty, the Lord does not cease to bless his People, raising men and women saints who stir minds and hearts, bringing about conversion and renewal.

Catherine is one of these and still today she speaks to us and pushes us to walk courageously toward sanctity to be disciples of the Lord in an ever fuller sense.

Born in Siena in 1347 to a very numerous family, she died in her native city in 1380. At 16, moved by a vision of St. Dominic, she entered the Dominican Third Order, in the feminine branch called the Mantellate. She stayed with her family and confirmed the vow of virginity she made privately when she was still an adolescent; she dedicated herself to prayer, penance, and works of charity, above all for the benefit of the sick.

When her fame for sanctity spread, she became the protagonist in an intense activity of spiritual counsel, dealing with all categories of persons: nobles and politicians, artists and ordinary people, consecrated persons, ecclesiastics, and including Pope Gregory XI, who at that time resided in Avignon and whom Catherine exhorted energetically and effectively to return to Rome.

She travelled a lot to solicit the interior reform of the Church and to foster peace between states. For this reason also the Venerable John Paul II declared her co-patroness of Europe: so that the Old World would never forget its Christian roots that are at the base of its journey and continue to draw from the Gospel the fundamental values that ensure justice and concord.

Catherine suffered much, as have many saints. Some thought in fact that she should not be trusted, to the point that, in 1374, six years before her death, the general chapter of the Dominicans called her to Florence to question her. They assigned her a learned and humble friar, Raymond of Capua, future master-general of the order. Having become her confessor and also her "spiritual son," he wrote the first complete biography of the saint. She was canonized in 1461.

Catherine learned to read with effort and learned to write when she was already an adult. Her doctrine is contained in "The Dialogue of Divine Providence" or "Book of Divine Doctrine," a masterpiece of spiritual literature in a collection of letters and prayers.

Her teaching is gifted with such richness that, in 1970, the Servant of God Paul VI declared her a Doctor of the Church, a title that was added to that of co-patroness of the city of Rome, by the decision of Blessed Pius IX, and of patroness of Italy, by the decision of the Venerable Pius XII.

In a vision that never left Catherine's heart and mind, Our Lady presented her to Jesus who gave her a splendid ring, saying to her:

"I, your Creator and Savior, espouse you in the faith, which you will always keep pure until you celebrate with me in heaven your eternal nuptials" (Raimondo da Capua, S. Caterina da Siena, Legenda maior, n. 115, Siena 1998).

That ring was visible only to her. In this extraordinary episode, we see the vital centre of Catherine's religiosity and of every authentic spirituality: Christocentrism. Christ was for her a spouse, with whom she had a relationship of intimacy, communion and faithfulness; he is the cherished good above any other good.

This profound union with the Lord is illustrated by another episode in the life of this famous mystic: the exchange of hearts. According to Raymond of Capua, who transmitted the confidences received by Catherine, the Lord Jesus appeared to her with a bright red human heart in his hand, opened her chest and placed it in her, and said:

"Dearest daughter, as the other day I took your heart that you offered to me, behold now I give you mine, and henceforth it will be in the place that yours occupied" (ibid.).

Catherine truly lived St. Paul's words, "It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me" (Galatians 2:20).

Like the Sienese saint, every believer feels the need to be conformed to the sentiments of the heart of Christ to love God and neighbor as Christ himself loves. And we can all let our hearts be transformed and learn to love like Christ, in a familiarity with him nourished by prayer, meditation on the Word of God and the sacraments, above all by receiving Holy Communion frequently and with devotion.

Catherine also belongs to that rank of Eucharistic saints with which I concluded my apostolic exhortation "Sacramentum Caritatis" (cf. No. 94). Dear brothers and sisters, the Eucharist is an extraordinary gift of love that God continually renews to nourish our journey of faith, reinvigorate our hope, inflame our charity, to make us ever more like him.

A true and authentic spiritual family was built up around such a strong and genuine personality: people fascinated by the authoritative morality of this young woman of an elevated style of life, and at times impressed also by the mystical phenomena they witnessed, such as the frequent ecstasies.

Many placed themselves at her service and above all considered it a privilege to be guided spiritually by Catherine. They called her "mamma," because as spiritual children they received the nourishment of the spirit.

Today also the Church receives great benefit from the spiritual maternity of so many women, consecrated and lay, who nourish in souls the thought of God, reinforce people's faith and orient Christian life toward ever higher summits.

"Son I say to you and call you," wrote Catherine addressing one of her spiritual sons, the monk Giovanni Sabbatini, "inasmuch as I give you birth by continuous prayers and desire in the presence of God, just as a mother gives birth to a son" (Epistolario, Lettera n. 141: To don Giovanni de' Sabbatini).

She would usually address the Dominican friar Bartolomeo de Dominici with these words:

"Most beloved and very dear brother and son in Christ sweet Jesus."

Another trait of Catherine's spirituality is connected with the gift of tears. They express an exquisite and profound sensitivity, a capacity for being moved and tenderness. Not a few saints have had the gift of tears, renewing the emotion of Jesus himself, who did not hold back and hide his tears before the sepulchre of his friend Lazarus and the sorrow of Mary and Martha, and on looking at Jerusalem in his last days on earth. According to Catherine, the tears of saints are mixed with the blood of Christ, of which she spoke with very effective vibrant tones and symbolic images:

"Remember Christ crucified, God and man (...). Put before you as object Christ crucified, hide in the wounds of Christ crucified, drown in the blood of Christ crucified" (Epistolario, Lettera n. 16: To one whose name is withheld).

Here we are able to understand why Catherine, though aware of the human defects of priests, always had great reverence for them: Through the sacraments and the Word they dispense the salvific strength of the blood of Christ. The Sienese saint always invited the sacred ministers, including the Pope, whom she called "sweet Christ on earth," to be faithful to their responsibility, moved always and only by their profound and constant love of the Church.

Before dying she said:

"Leaving the body I, in truth, have consumed and given my life in the Church and for the Holy Church, which is for me a most singular grace" (Raimondo da Capua, S. Caterina da Siena, Legenda maior, n. 363).

Hence, from St. Catherine we learn the most sublime science: to know and love Jesus Christ and his Church. In the "Dialogue of Divine Providence," she, with a singular image, describes Christ as a bridge flung between heaven and earth. It is made up of three steps constituted by the feet, the side and the mouth of Jesus. Raising itself by these steps, the soul passes through the three stages of every path of sanctification: detachment from sin, practice of the virtues and of love, sweet and affectionate union with God.

Dear brothers and sisters, let us learn from St. Catherine to love Christ and the Church with courage in an intense and sincere way. Hence, let us make our own the words of St. Catherine that we read in the "Dialogue of Divine Providence," at the end of the chapter that speaks of Christ-bridge:

"Through mercy you have washed us in the blood, through mercy you wished to converse with creatures. O Madman of love! It was not enough for you to incarnate yourself, but you also wished to die! (...) O mercy! My heart drowns in thinking of you: for no matter where I turn to think I find only mercy" (chapter 30, pp. 79-80)."

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

St. Juliana of Liege; "A Little Known Woman"

Aimé Perrin (1846-1927)
Le Saint Viatique, en Bourgogne
Oil on canvas
1.36m x 2.0 m
Musée de la Vie bourguignonne Perrin de Puycousin, Dijon

Last week the Pope continued with his catechesis on notable women in medieval times within the Church.

The time the subject was Sainte Julienne de Cornillon (c1192 - 5 April 1258)(also known as Saint Juliana of Liège as well as St. Juliana of Mt. Cornillon), best known as the proomoter of the Feast of Corpus Christi

The story of Saint Julienne always reminds me of the Parables of the Sower and the Mustard Seed and the wonders of Divine Providence.

Through her zeal for Eucharistic worship in a small corner of Belgium, she fostered a movement which grew exponentially and took over the Church

In his speech the Pope also took time to stress the importance of Eucharistic Adoration in the life and liturgy of the Church as well as its belief in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist

He said:

"Dear Brothers and Sisters,

This morning, too, I would like to present to you a little-known woman to whom, however, the Church owes great recognition, not only because of the holiness of her life, but also because, with her great fervor, she contributed to the institution of one of the most important liturgical solemnities of the year, that of Corpus Christi.

She is St. Juliana of Cornillon, known also as St. Juliana of Liege. We have certain details of her life above all from a biography probably written by an ecclesiastic contemporary of hers, in which are gathered several testimonies from people who knew the saint directly.

Juliana was born between 1191 and 1192 in the neighborhood of Liege, in Belgium. It is important to stress this place, because at that time the Diocese of Liege was, so to speak, a true "Eucharistic cenacle."

Before Juliana, eminent theologians had illustrated the supreme value of the sacrament of the Eucharist and, always at Liege, there were women's groups generously dedicated to Eucharistic worship and to fervent communion. Led by exemplary priests, they lived together, dedicating themselves to prayer and to charitable works.

Orphaned at 5 years of age, Juliana and her sister Agnes were entrusted to the care of the Augustinian nuns of the convent-leper hospital of Mont Cornillon. She was educated above all by a sister named Sapienza, who followed her spiritual maturation, until Juliana herself received the religious habit and became as well an Augustinian nun.

She acquired notable learning, to the point that she read the works of the Fathers of the Church in Latin, in particular St. Augustine and St. Bernard.

In addition to keen intelligence, Juliana showed from the beginning a particular propensity for contemplation; she had a profound sense of the presence of Christ, which she experienced by living in a particularly intense way the sacrament of the Eucharist and pausing often to meditate on the words of Jesus:

"And lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age" (Matthew 28:20).

At 16 she had her first vision, which was then repeated many times in her Eucharistic adorations. The vision showed the moon in its full splendour, with a dark strip that crossed it diametrically. The Lord made her understand the meaning of what had appeared to her. The moon symbolized the life of the Church on earth; but the opaque line represented the absence of a liturgical feast.

Juliana was asked to do her utmost in an effective way to bring about its institution: a feast, namely, in which believers would be able to adore the Eucharist to increase their faith, advance in the practice of virtue and make reparation for offences to the Most Holy Sacrament.

For about 20 years Juliana, who in the meantime had become prioress of the convent, kept secret this revelation, which had filled her heart with joy. Then she confided in two other fervent adorers of the Eucharist, Blessed Eva, who led an eremitical life, and Isabella, who had joined her in the monastery of Mont Cornillon.

The three women established a sort of "spiritual alliance" for the purpose of glorifying the Most Holy Sacrament. They wished to involve also a much esteemed priest, John of Lausanne, canon of the church of St. Martin in Liege, asking him to question theologians and ecclesiastics about what they had in their hearts. The answers were positive and encouraging.

What happened to Juliana of Cornillon is frequently repeated in the life of saints: to have the confirmation that an inspiration comes from God, it is always necessary to be immersed in prayer, to be able to wait with patience, to seek friendship and encounters with other good souls, and to subject everything to the judgment of the pastors of the Church.

It was, in fact, the bishop of Liege, Robert of Thourotte, who, after initial hesitations, took up this proposal from Juliana and her companions, and instituted, for the first time, the solemnity of Corpus Domini in his diocese. Later, other bishops imitated him, establishing the same feast in territories entrusted to their pastoral care.

To saints, however, the Lord often asks that they overcome trials, so that their faith is enhanced.

This happened also to Juliana, who had to suffer the harsh opposition of some members of the clergy and even of the superior on whom her monastery depended. Then, of her own volition, Juliana left the convent of Mont Cornillon with some companions, and for 10 years, from 1248 to 1258, was a guest of several monasteries of Cistercian Sisters.

She edified everyone with her humility; she never had words of criticism or rebuke for her adversaries, but continued to spread with zeal Eucharistic worship. She died in 1258 in Fosses-La-Ville, in Belgium. In the cell where she lay the Most Blessed Sacrament was exposed and, according to the words of her biographer, Juliana died contemplating with a last outburst of love the Eucharistic Jesus, whom she had always loved, honoured and adored.

Won over also to the good cause of the feast of Corpus Domini was Giacomo Pantaleon of Troyes, who had known the saint during his ministry as archdeacon in Liege. He, in fact, having become Pope in 1264 and taking the name Urban IV, instituted the solemnity of Corpus Domini as a feast of obligation for the universal Church, the Thursday after Pentecost.

In the Bull of institution, titled "Transiturus de hoc mundo" (Aug. 11, 1264), Pope Urban also re-evoked with discretion the mystical experiences of Juliana, giving value to their authenticity. He wrote:

"Although the Eucharist is celebrated solemnly every day, we hold it right that, at least once a year, there be a more honored and solemn memoria of it. The other things, in fact, of which we make memoria, we do so with the spirit and with the mind, but we do not obtain, because of this, their real presence. On the other hand, in this sacramental commemoration of Christ, Jesus Christ is present with us in his substance, even if under another form. In fact, while he was about to ascend to heaven he said: "And lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age" (Matthew 28:20).

The Pontiff himself wished to give an example, celebrating the solemnity of Corpus Domini in Orvieto, the city where he then dwelled. By his order, in fact, the famous corporal with the traces of the Eucharistic miracle that happened the previous year, in 1263, in Bolsena, is the kept in the cathedral of the city -- and it is still kept there.

[The miracle was this:] While a priest consecrated the bread and the wine, he was prey to strong doubts about the real presence of the Body and Blood of Christ in the sacrament of the Eucharist. Miraculously some drops of blood began to spurt from the consecrated Host, confirming in that way what our faith professes.

Urban IV asked one of the greatest theologians of history, St. Thomas Aquinas -- who at that time was accompanying the Pope and was in Orvieto -- to compose texts of the liturgical office for this great feast. These are masterpieces in which theology and poetry fuse, still in use today in the Church. They are texts that make the cords of the heart vibrate to express praise and gratitude to the Most Holy Sacrament, while the intelligence, penetrating the mystery with wonder, recognizes in the Eucharist the living and true presence of Jesus, of his sacrifice of love that reconciles us with the Father, and gives us salvation.

Even if after the death of Urban IV the celebration of the feast of Corpus Domini was limited to some regions of France, Germany, Hungary and northern Italy, it was again a Pontiff, John XXII, who in 1317 revived it for the whole Church. Henceforth the feast experienced a wonderful development, and is still much appreciated by the Christian people.

I would like to affirm with joy that today in the Church there is a "Eucharistic springtime": How many persons pause silently before the Tabernacle to spend time in a conversation of love with Jesus! It is consoling to know that not a few groups of young people have rediscovered the beauty of praying in adoration before the Most Blessed Sacrament. I am thinking, for example, of our Eucharistic adoration in Hyde Park, in London.

I pray so that this Eucharistic "springtime" will spread increasingly in every parish, in particular in Belgium, the homeland of St. Juliana.

The Venerable John Paul II, in the encyclical "Ecclesia de Eucharistia," said:

"In many places, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is also an important daily practice and becomes an inexhaustible source of holiness. The devout participation of the faithful in the Eucharistic procession on the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ is a grace from the Lord which yearly brings joy to those who take part in it. Other positive signs of Eucharistic faith and love might also be mentioned" (No. 10).

Remembering St. Juliana of Cornillon we also renew our faith in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. As we are taught by the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church,

"Jesus Christ is present in the Eucharist in a unique and incomparable way. He is present in a true, real and substantial way, with his Body and his Blood, with his Soul and his Divinity. In the Eucharist, therefore, there is present in a sacramental way, that is, under the Eucharistic species of bread and wine, Christ whole and entire, God and Man" (No. 282).

Dear friends, fidelity to the encounter with the Eucharistic Christ in Sunday's Holy Mass is essential for the journey of faith, but let us try as well to frequently go to visit the Lord present in the Tabernacle!

Gazing in adoration at the consecrated Host, we discover the gift of the love of God, we discover the passion and the cross of Jesus, and also his Resurrection. Precisely through our gazing in adoration, the Lord draws us to himself, into his mystery, to transform us as he transforms the bread and wine.

The saints always found strength, consolation and joy in the Eucharistic encounter. With the words of the Eucharistic hymn "Adoro te devote," let us repeat before the Lord, present in the Most Blessed Sacrament:

"Make me believe ever more in You, that in You I may have hope, that I may love You!"

Thank you."

See also:

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Vatican and the Importance of Thought

Above. Views of the Vatican Apostolic Library (Bottom photo view of the Manuscript Reading Room)

View of the second hall of the «piano nobile» with the marble bust of Father Augustin Theiner, Prefect of the Vatican Secret Archives between 1855 and 1870. Above the door there is the coat of arms of Cardinal Scipione Borghese Caffarelli, Librarian between 1609 and 1618

Coat of Arms of Cardinal Scipione Borghese, librarian of the Holy Roman Church (1609-1618), with the crowned eagle and the winged dragon

Fresco of Reginald, Lord of the Isle of Anglesey, North Wales, offering his Kingdom to Pope Honorius III (1216-1227), in front of the papal legate on Third Floor of the «piano nobile» in the Vatican Secret Archive

One good thing about not blogging for a period is that one does not feel that one should react immediately to what appears to be "news".

Often what is produced is not "new", "newsworthy" or just simply wrong.

The reaction to the Pope`s comments in an interview about condoms springs to mind.

It is conceiveable that the present Pope would announce a change to Church teaching in an interview with a journalist (even if an old friend) especially one on such an important topic.

That is borne out by the clarification issued by the Vatican Press Office, putting the matter beyond all doubt.

The only light from the debacle has been to increase interest in the Book and in future sales.

Non-blogging also allows one to look more closely at what is only covered cursorily or not covered at all

One "little gem" overlooked is a Letter by Pope Benedict XVI (9th November 2010) to the Librarian of the Vatican Library on its Re-opening after being closed to the public for three years.

The Letter is addressed to Cardinal Raffaele Farina, S.D.B., Archivist and Librarian of the Holy Roman Church, the post which when Cardinal, Papa Ratzinger wanted to move to after leaving the CDF. However Pope John Paul II had other ideas for his future career.

The Vatican Library is one of the Church`s great treasures, vital in its mission.

He confirmed his personal closeness to the persons involved in the Apostolic Library.

He also referred to the neighbouring Secret Archives and how both the Library and the Archives have been essential tools in the Petrine Ministry.

The Pope stressed that throughout its hitory the Church has been linked to Books: first Scripture, then Theology, then books or writings about the Church

The Library is not the personal hobby of a group of bibliomaniacs: it is essential for the Church`s own realisation of its history and identity.It is the link to the Church`s historical roots. These roots are not dead but living and providing sustenance and strength to overcome day-to-day problems of the present and which gives the Church the ability to look at all problems with a long term view based on the wisdom and experience of the ages.

It carries within it precious examples of human culture, knowledge and experience from a broad swathe of humanity over a long period of time. As a result the Church has a breadth and depth of knowledge and experience possibly unparalleled in any other human institution

Again quoting Pope Paul VI, the Pope stressed the importance of culture and the quest for God: a plea for a mature and considered response to what life throws up

All of which is at the service of mankind.

In his letter the Pope wrote:

"One of the two epigraphs affixed by Pope Sixtus V next to the entrance of the Sistine Hall recalls that it was begun ("inchoata") by those Popes who listened to the voice of the Apostle Peter.

In this idea of continuity of a 2,000 year history there is a profound truth: the Church of Rome from its beginning is linked to books; at first it was those of the sacred Scriptures, then the theological and those relative to the discipline and governance of the Church.

In fact, if the Vatican Library was born in the 15th century, in the heart of humanism, of which it is a splendid manifestation, it is the expression, the "modern" institutional realization of a much older reality, which has always supported the journey of the Church.

This historical awareness induces me to underline how the Apostolic Library, like the neighboring Secret Archive, is an integral part of the instruments necessary for the development of the Petrine Ministry and like it is rooted in the exigencies of the governance of the Church.

Far from being simply the fruit of the accumulation of a refined bibliophile and of a hobby of collecting many possibilities, the Vatican Library is a precious means -- which the Bishop of Rome cannot and does not intend to give up -- that gives, in the consideration of problems, that look capable of gathering, in a perspective of long duration, the remote roots of situations and their evolution in time.

Eminent place of the historical memory of the universal Church, in which are kept venerable testimonies of the handwritten tradition of the Bible, the Vatican Library is but another reason to be the object of the care and concern of the Popes.

From its origins it conserves the unmistakable, truly "catholic," universal openness to everything that humanity has produced in the course of the centuries that is beautiful, good, noble, worthy (cf. Philippians 4:8); the breadth of mind with which in time it gathered the loftiest fruits of human thought and culture, from antiquity to the Medieval age, from the modern era to the 20th century.

Nothing of all that is truly human is foreign to the Church, which because of this has always sought, gathered, conserved, with a continuity that few equal, the best results of men of rising above the purely material toward the search, aware or unaware, of the Truth.

Not accidental, in the iconographic program of the Sistine Hall, is the ordered succession of the representations of the ecumenical councils and of the great libraries of antiquity on the right and left walls, the images of the inventors of the alphabets in the central pillars all converge toward the figure of Jesus Christ, "celestis doctrinae auctor," alpha and omega, true Book of Life (cf. Philippians 4:3; Revelation 3:5; 13:8; 17:8; 20:15; 21:27) to which all human work tends and yearns.

The Vatican Library is not therefore a theological library or primarily of a religious character; faithful to its humanistic origins, it is by vocation open to the human; and thus serves culture, understanding with it -- as my venerable predecessor the Servant of God Paul VI said on June 20, 1975, on the occasion of the fifth centenary of that institution --

"human maturation ... growth from within ... exquisitely spiritual acquisition; culture and elevation of the most noble faculty that God the Creator has given man, to make him man, to make him more of a man, to make him similar to himself! Culture and mind, hence; culture and soul; culture and God. Also with this, 'her' institution, the Church proposes again to us these essential and vital binomials, which touch man in his truest dimension, and incline him, almost by an inversion of the law of gravity, towards the lofty, and urge him (...) to surpass himself according to the wonderful Augustinian trajectory of the 'quaerere super se' (cf. St. Augustine, Confessions, X, 6, 9: PL 32, 783). Also with the functioning of 'her' institution, the Church promises herself again today -- as she did five centuries ago -- to serve all men, inscribe this ministry of hers in the vaster picture of that ministry that is so essential to her to make her be Church: Church as community that evangelizes and saves" (Insegnamenti, XIII [1975], p. 655)

This opening to the human does not regard only the past but also looks to the present.

In the Vatican Library, all researchers of the truth have always been received with attention and care, without confessional or ideological discrimination; required of them only is the good faith of serious research, unselfish and qualified.

In this research the Church and my predecessors have always wished to recognize and value a motive, often, unwittingly, religious, because every partial truth participates in the Supreme Truth of God and every profound and rigorous research, to ascertain it is a path to reach it.

The love of letters, historical and philological research, are thus intertwined in God's desire, as I had the occasion to remind on Sept. 12, 2008, in Paris, when meeting with the world of culture at the College des Bernardines and evoking again the great experience of Western monasticism.

"The objective of monks was and remains that of "'Quaerere Deum' -- setting out in search of God (...) The longing for God, the désir de Dieu, includes amour des lettres, love of the word, exploration of all its dimensions. Because in the biblical word God comes towards us and we towards him, we must learn to penetrate the secret of language, to understand it in its construction and in the manner of its expression.

Thus it is through the search for God that the secular sciences take on their importance, sciences which show us the path towards language. Because the search for God required the culture of the word, it was appropriate that the monastery should have a library, pointing out pathways to the word. (...) The monastery serves 'eruditio,' formation and the erudition of man -- a formation with the ultimate objective that man learn to serve God" (Insegnamenti, IV, 2 [2008], p. 272).

The Vatican Library is hence the place in which the loftiest human words are collected and kept, mirror and reflection of the Word, of the Word that illumines every man (John 1:9). I am pleased to conclude recalling the words that the Servant of God Paul VI pronounced on his first visit to the Vatican Library, on June 8, 1964, when he recalled the "ascetic virtues" that the activity in the Vatican Library commits and exacts, immersed in the plurality of languages, of writings and words, but always looking at the Word, and through the provisional, continually drawing closer to the definitive.

From this austere and at the same time joyous asceticism of research, in the service of studies themselves and others, the Vatican Library in the course of its history has offered innumerable examples, from Guglielmo Sirleto to Franz Ehrle, from Giovanni Mercati to Eugene Tisserant.

May it be able to continue to walk on the path traced by these luminous figures!"

Thursday, November 11, 2010


I shall be on "holiday" in Scotland for the next ten days. Blogging unlikely

Lumen Caritatis: Part III

Giovanni Battista Crespi (known as Il Cerano) (1575 - 1632)
San Carlos Borromeo ante Cristo muerto / St Carlo Borromeo Before the Dead Christ
Also known as Carlo Borromeo adora di notte il Cristo morto di Varallo / Charles Borromeo at night adoring the dead Christ at Varallo
Oil on canvas
209 x 156 cm
Colección Real, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid

Cerano was in large part responsible for the iconography of St Carlo Borromeo after his canonization in 1610

In 1620 he was appointed head of the Accademia Ambrosiana founded by Cardinal Federico Borromeo.

With other artists Cerano completed the Taloni or Quadroni for Milan Cathedral, the cycle of paintings depicting the Life and Miracles of St Charles Borromeo which are still exhiibited today.

The Wikipedia article in Italian Quadroni di San Carlo is an excellent article on the Quadroni and in the Commons section shows many of the paintings

Pope Benedict XVI is not the first and will not be the last Pope to extol the life and virtues of Saint Charles Borromeo. Nor, in time of crisis, to put him forward as model of sanctity who should be emulated, followed. A beacon of light in a sea of sarkness.

In Lumen Caritatis,  Pope Benedict wrote that St. Charles "was aware that serious and credible reform had to begin with pastors".

To this end the Saint focused on "the centrality of the Eucharist, ... the spirituality of the cross, ... assiduous participation in the Sacraments, ... the Word of God, ... and love and devotion for the Supreme Pontiff, readily and filially obedient to his directives as a guarantee of true and complete ecclesial communion".

Pope John Paul I took as his motto "Humllitas", the same motto as that of Saint Charles Borromeo.

Pope John Paul II looked on St Charles as his Patron Saint. At the beginning of his Pontificate (4th November 1978)he said to the assembled College of Cardinals who had just elected him:

"My beloved parents gave me the name Karol (Charles), which was also my father's name. Certainly, they could never have foreseen (they both died young) that this name would open up for their child the way among the great events of the Church of today.

St Charles! How often I have knelt before his relics in Milan Cathedral; how often I have thought about his life, contemplating in my mind the gigantic figure of this man of God and servant of the Church, Charles Borromeo, Cardinal, Bishop of Milan, and a man of the Council.

He is one of the great protagonists of the deep reform of the 16th century church, carried out by the Council of Trent, which will always remain linked with his name. He is also one of the creators of the institution of ecclesiastical seminaries, which has been reconfirmed in all its substance by the Second Vatican Council. Moreover, he was a servant of souls, who never let himself be intimidated; a servant of the suffering, of the sick, of those condemned to death.

My Patron Saint!

In his name my parents, my parish, my country intended to prepare me right from the beginning for an extraordinary service of the Church, in the context of today's Council, with the many tasks united with its implementation, and also in all the experiences and sufferings of modern man.

May God reward you, revered Brothers, Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, for having, on this day, together with me, wished to venerate St Charles in my unworthy person. May God reward all those who do so together with you.

If only I could imitate him, at least partly! "