NEWS for Tuesday, September 5, 2000
JOHN XXIII AND PIUS IX ARE AMONG 5 NEW BLESSED FOR CHURCH AND WORLD
Chaminade, Marmion, and Reggio Also Raised to the Altar
VATICAN CITY, SEPTEMBER 3 (ZENIT.org)
The Church and the world have
five new Blessed as of Sunday. This was the solemn proclamation made by
John Paul II in St. Peter's Square in the Vatican, which was crowded
with 100,000 faithful from all over the world, when beatifying five men
of very diverse characters but united in their love for God and
A veritable river of humanity flowed peacefully into the plaza enclosed
by the Bernini colonnade. The majority of faithful were Italians, since
the "Good Pope" left an indelible memory in Italy. However, by their
voices and colors, groups from Spain, Argentina, Lebanon, Brazil, the
United States, Chile, and Korea were also very much in evidence.
Five Very Different Personalities
In addition to the two Popes who convoked the last two Councils, Vatican
I and Vatican II, among the new Blessed are Tommaso Reggio (1818-1901),
Archbishop of Genoa, founder of the first Catholic newspaper in Italy,
and of the Sisters of St. Martha; William Joseph Chaminade (1761-1850),
founder of the Marianist Family; and Irish Benedictine Abbot Columba
Marmion (1853-1923), spiritual guide of generations of men and women
consecrated to God in the 20th century.
Pius IX: Search for God in Midst of Love and Hate
The Bishop of Rome began by recalling "the human and religious ups and
downs of Pius IX, Giovanni Maria Mastai Ferretti (1792-1878), the
Pontiff who lived at the time of the Church's loss of temporal power
over the Pontifical States, during the period of Italy's unification.
His condemnation of some of the dominant ideologies at the time, and his
opposition to the way that Italy's unity was imposed, earned him many
However, John Paul II transcended the controversy unleashed by some
groups on the eve of this beatification: "Sanctity lives in history, and
no saint is exempt from the limitations and conditions proper to our
humanity. In beatifying one of her sons, the Church does not celebrate
his particular historical choices, but, rather, proposes him for
imitation and veneration because of his virtues, for the praise of
divine grace that shines in them," he explained.
"In the midst of the turbulent events of his time, he was an example of
unconditional adherence to the immutable deposit of revealed truths.
Faithful in every circumstance to the commitments of his ministry, he
always knew how to give absolute primacy to God and spiritual values.
His long pontificate was certainly not easy, and he had to suffer much
in fulfilling his mission of service to the Gospel. He was very much
loved, but also hated and calumniated. However, precisely in the midst
of these contrasts, the light of his virtues shone more forcefully," the
Holy Father clarified.
"The prolonged tribulations tempered his confidence in divine
Providence, and he never doubted its dominion over human vicissitudes.
From here was born the profound serenity of Pius IX, despite the lack of
understanding and the attacks of so many hostile persons," the Pope
insisted. It was with such conviction that Pope Mastai convoked Vatican
Council I, "which enlightened with magisterial authority some questions
then being debated, confirming the harmony between faith and reason,"
the Pontiff emphasized.
At times of trial, Pius IX found support in Mary, and when he proclaimed
the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, "he reminded all that in the
storms of human existence the light of Christ shines in Mary, a light
which is stronger than sin and death," John Paul II said.
The Bishop of Rome recalled the "profound veneration" John XXIII
(1881-1963) had for Pius IX, "whose beatification he desired," as well
as Pope Roncalli's "smiling face" and his "his two arms open wide to
embrace the whole world," who conquered many people by the "simplicity
of his spirit, coupled with wide experience of men and life."
Cardinal Angelo Roncalli was elected Pope when he was almost 77.
Journalists classified him as a "transition" Pope. However, he brought a
"gust of novelty" that "did not affect doctrine, but, rather, the way it
is presented." "He did it with a new style, he spoke and acted with a
new style, his likableness and closeness to ordinary people and the
powerful of the earth was new. It was with this spirit that he convoked
Vatican Council II, with which he opened a new page in the history of
According to John Paul II, Vatican II was "a prophetic intuition" of
John XXIII, which, "in the midst of many difficulties, inaugurated a
season of hope for Christians and humanity."
Reggio, Chaminade, and Marmion
John Paul II went on to recall the example of the three other Blessed.
He referred to Tommaso Reggio, Archbishop of Genoa and journalist, a
"man of faith and culture," "an attentive guide for the faithful in
every circumstance." "Sensitive to the many sufferings and the poverty
of his people, he offered vigorous help in all situations of need."
Hundreds of members of the Sisters of St. Martha gathered in St. Peter's
square for the event, sometimes eclipsing the other groups with their
shouts of joy. Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican Secretary of State,
organized a special luncheon for them after the beatification in Paul VI
Speaking of Fr. William Joseph Chaminade, who lived at the time of the
French Revolution, the Pope recalled his commitment to come close to
people who had left the Church, and he said that Chaminade's personality
posits the need to pay "renewed attention to youths, who need educators
As regards Benedictine monk Columba Marmion, born in Ireland, although
he lived the greater part of his life in the Belgian Monastery of
Maredsous, John Paul II said that with his life and works he taught "a
way of sanctity, which was simple but exacting." According to the Pope,
his secret was the following: "Jesus Christ, our Redeemer and source of
all grace, is the center of our spiritual life, our model of sanctity."
Following the solemn proclamation, the Holy Father indicated the day on
which the feast of the five new Blessed will be celebrated: Pius IX on
February 7, John XXIII on October 11, Tommaso Reggio on January 9,
William J. Chaminade on January 22, and Columba Marmion on October 3. At
that moment, the standards with the portraits of the new Blessed were
unveiled on the facade of the Vatican Basilica.
"May their love of God and their brothers and sisters illumine our steps
in this dawn of the third millennium!" the Holy Father said during the
Mass, summarizing the meaning of this Sunday's celebration.
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