The great Hildebrand, who refused the papacy in the past, prays and this time accedes to ascend the papal throne as Pope Saint Gregory VII the Great as the 157th successor of Peter. He would calle a Council to issue a Dictatus Papae which decreed that only the Pope is universal and that no one can judge him other than God. It also decreed that the Pope alone could dispense one from vows. It would be a turning point in Church history for the papacy would take on a new prestige when the excommunicated Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV who had supported the antipope Honorius II bowed to Gregory by going humbly to Canossa in the bitter winter and, wearing only a rough habit, asked the holy Pontiff for forgiveness publicly.
The Dominicans are established in France as Inquisitors by the decree of Pope Gregory IX.
The closing of the Council of Constance, the sixteenth ecumenical council which ended the Great Schism and condemned Huss.
Birth of Isabella who would become Queen of Spain and commission Christopher Columbus to set out on his great voyage of discovery.
King Henry VII's death opens the door for King Henry VIII to gain the crown, beginning a succession of hills and valleys with Rome that would end in Schism and a complete break from Holy Mother Church.
The founder of the Jesuits Saint Ignatius of Loyola is elected First General of the Order founded for the express purpose of defending the Pope.
John is much different for even though his eyes have not seen the Master, his pure heart recognizes Truth. He is eager, spurred on by love. Yet, it is this very love, flowing from God, which makes John able to walk with Peter as they pass along the streets, recognizing that Peter is the head, and in deference does he keep step with him out of sublime charity.
Their route is the same as the Magdalene's, except once upon the hard-packed road leading to the garden, Peter speaks.
"Do you believe her?" he asks of John.
"Yes, Peter, I believe her."
"Yes?" John prompts.
"You are His Beloved one, John. You knew His heart as He knew yours, while mine gets so cluttered, and confused. But I want to believe."
"Then Her knows already what is in your heart. Did He not often tell us, when we sat at His feet and were taught by every word He uttered, that we must always remain open to Him? Of course, He meant our hearts. Do not be troubled. He will help us."
"Yes, He said 'I am with you,' and I do feel it here…." Peter taps his chest. "But… O! How I have failed Him."
"As we all have, Peter. Each of us. Only His Blessed Mother is without blame. Come, let us hurry. There is the gate."
John moves forward now, his love no longer able to be restrained. He runs, and Peter, who is of shorter stature and more years, tries to keep up but is a good 100 feet behind at his best.
The scene of the tranquil garden seems to me unchanged as I follow with John. He rounds the rock outcropping and pauses to look down. There are the perfumes, oils, spices, herbs that the Magdalene had worked so hard to prepare. He glances up. I follow his gaze. There is no one present that I can see. The Roman guards have all gone, to make up whatever story will satisfy their commander. I wonder where the other Marys have gone, and immediately am given to understand that having received, at length, permission from the lone Roman guard, they approached the tomb, satisfied of its emptiness, crying, as was the Magdalene, they took the side path she had taken, searching for their stalwart companion. I am given to understand that by now they have returned to the house of the Last Supper and have learned the rest of the Magdalene's account of her encounter with the Risen Lord.
John looks back and Peter has closed the gap between them. "Come quickly, there is no one about. But it is as she said, the stone has been rolled away."
Peter nods and keeps moving, but John, drawn as a magnet, hurries forward to the tomb's entrance. He places his right hand on the cold stone wall and pauses. In that instant he sees before him Our Lord's full Passion and Death. He sees again the mournful placement of the disfigured body in this tomb and the effort of Joseph, Nicodemus, and himself to lever the stone slab into place.
Then with tentative footsteps he goes in, passing what appears to me to be a very small outer room, and then through a low archway into the interior chamber, or actual tomb where he had helped to place our Dear Lord's Most Sacred Body.
At the moment when he crosses the threshold from the outside world into the sepulcher, I become aware, as does John, of a wonderful illumination which permeates the interior chamber. This light of unearthly quality is also a living, moving light which blends gold and silver, but also the shimmering colors of sunrise. I am also aware at the same time that the entire tomb has a fragrance, which is breathtakingly beautiful. Not flowery. More, I seem to understand, the scent of purest incense. Not man-made incense, but heavenly incense which is constantly given in praise to the Trinity by all the angels, and now that Heaven has been opened, by all the saints as well.
NEXT INSTALLMENT: Part two: "My Lord and my God!"