Death of Saint Erasmus, also known as Saint Elmo, the bishop of Campagna, Italy who was martyred under the persecution of Diocletian though it was not easy for the pagan emperor. Elmo was hurled into a fiery pit but emerged unscathed (thus the phrase "St. Elmo's fire") and then imprisoned. An angel freed him and led him to Formiae where he eventually died of his wounds in dignity. He is one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers and is patron saint of sailors.
After a vacancy of almost one year, Pope Benedict I is elected as the 62nd successor of Peter on this date. He would strive to restore order in Italy and in France where the barbaric invasions had thrown those countries into turmoil.
Death of Pope Saint Eugene I, 75th successor of Peter who decreed the perpetual observance of chastity for all priests.
Death of Saint Nicephorus, Patriarch of Constantinople and staunch opponent of iconoclasm. Because of fierce opposition from the Armenian Emperor, he was exiled to a monastery where he lived the last fifteen years of his life.
Marriage of Geoffrey Plantagenet of Anjou to Queen Matilda of England, whose son Henry II began the line of the Plantagenet dynasty and solidified Holy Mother Church in England until the Windsor monarchs and the rebellion of Henry VIII.
Pope Paul III, 220th successor of Peter and pontiff who gave official approval for the Jesuits and called the the 19th Ecumenical Council, publicly declares that, despite the naive perception by so many Europeans that they were savages, the Native American Indians have souls and are therefore to be accorded the dignity of man and could not be enslaved.
Birth of Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto to a village postman and a seamstress in Upper Venetia, Italy. He would go on to become the holy Pope Saint Pius X, 257th successor of Peter and the Pope who made Holy Communion available to all, especially children from seven years of age up.
The first African Roman Catholic bishop in America Bishop James Healy is consecrated for the Diocese covering the state of Maine.
According to Holy See spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls, the Holy Father has requested that on that day the president, secretary and under-secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace travel to Belgrade, Macedonia and Albania, respectively, to offer the Catholic communities, the refugees, and the people affected by the conflict "the Pope's message of fraternal reconciliation and just peace and his heartfelt feeling of paternal closeness."
According to the Vatican spokesman, "meetings have been scheduled with leaders of other Christian and religious communities and with government and aid organisms."
However, Navarro-Valls stressed that it was a "journey of prayer," adding, "Given the desolating scene of so much violence, prayer for peace in Rome, Belgrade, Macedonia and Albania on the feast of Corpus Christi will give a dimension of unity and reconciliation in the Gospel sign of justice and peace." ZE99060105
When Foligno was stricken by the earthquake, the Roman orchestra and choir of Saint Cecilia, and its principal director, Myung Whun Chung, decided to offer the city the proceeds of a concert held in Saint Dominic's auditorium.
The unique event ended two days ago with a most generous donation. The people of Foligno decided to forget about their own problems and to think about those who are worse off than they are. They announced that the proceeds of the concert would go instead to the displaced people of Kosovo, especially to the children of that suffering region in the Balkans. ZE99060101
In an interview with the FIDES news service, the Chaldean Catholic Patriarch of Babylon has lamented that-- because of the warfare in the Balkans-- the focus of world public opinion has shifted away from the suffering people of Iraq. The Patriarch also said that his Church-- and the political leaders of Iraq-- are anxiously looking forward to the prospect of a visit by Pope John Paul II to their country.
Patriarch Raphael I Bidawid is the spiritual leader of about 600,000 Catholics of the Chaldean rite, most of them living in Iraq. There are also about 200,000 Latin-rite Catholics in Iraq, along with 200,000 non-Catholic Christians.
The complete text of the interview with Patriarch Raphael I Bidawid follows, through the courtesy of FIDES:
Q: What is the situation in Iraq?
A: The people, despite everything, are resisting. The tragedy is that the US and Great Britain bomb every day, hitting not only military targets. In Kosovo they call them "mistakes," but here they are normal daily routine. But I think that when someone is killed it is always a mistake, these are crimes against a civilian population, and they kill about twenty people every day.
Q: You mentioned the war in Kosovo. Have the two conflicts anything in common?
A: If we compare our situation with that in Kosovo we find many similarities, and in fact the Iraqi people, although mostly Muslims, feel they are in the same trench as the people of the Yugoslav Republic. What has been happening there for two months now, has been happening here for nine years: and the same people are dropping the bombs. It seems to me that in both cases the US and Great Britain show they know nothing about the people they are attacking. They undervalue the tenacity of the Iraqi people who has resisted for nine years, and the same appears to be true of the Yugoslav people. They think that with bombs they can weaken the power of the leaders, whereas, in fact, they only increase the suffering of the people. The people prefer to support their leaders rather than end up under the slavery of America.
Q: At what point are preparations for a papal visit to Iraq?
A: It is known that Pope John Paul II has often voiced a desire to make a pilgrimage in the footsteps of Abraham, the common father of Jews, Christians, and Muslims. For the Pope, Abraham is a figure who helps the unity of believers to overcome political divisions. On May 14th I was received by the Pope, together with a delegation composed of the Shi'ite imam of Khadum mosque and the Sunni president of the council of administration of the Iraqi Islamic Bank. There was also a representative of the Iraqi ministry of religion. I renewed our invitation to the Pope, because his visit would be for us a grace from heaven. It would confirm the faith of Christians and prove the Pope's love for the whole of humanity in a country which is mainly Muslim.
At the end of the audience the Pope bowed to the Muslim holy book, the Qu'ran, presented to him by the delegation, and he kissed it as a sign of respect. The photo of that gesture has been shown repeatedly on Iraqi television and it demonstrates that the Pope is not only aware of the suffering of the Iraqi people, he has also great respect for Islam.
A papal visit would be welcomed by both the people and by the authorities. After the audience I immediately sent a recommendation to the Iraqi government to make the official step of inviting the Pope to Iraq.
Q: Will the bombing raids on Iraq ever end?
A: I hope they will, but in the mean time, with the delegation received by the Pope, I will go to America in July. We accepted an invitation from Billy Graham. We will visit the lion's den and try to explain the situation of our people. We will meet a number of NGOs and religious and civil authorities. We are going not to ask for help, but to explain how the people suffer because of the bombing. If they stop the bombing we will not need any help. Iraq has everything it needs, except peace.
The guerrillas burst into a parish church in Cali on Sunday, and took more than 100 prisoners, including the priest who had been celebrating Mass. The Vatican referred to the incident as "an absurd violation of human rights," and "a violation of the human person in the most noble act, which is the worship of God."
In Bogota, the Colombian government on Monday broke off further peace contacts with a rebel group that abducted more than 120 people from a Catholic church on Sunday.
About 30 members of the National Liberation Army (ELN) stormed a church in a wealthy sector of the city of Cali and abducted more than 120 people, including the pastor. Eighty four of the people were later released as government soldiers chased the rebels into the surrounding mountains.
Army chief Gen. Jorge Enrique Mora said at least 40 men and 20 women remain in rebel hands on Monday, in addition to 25 people abducted from an Avianca Airlines flight in April still being held. While rebel groups in Colombia often kidnap wealthy individuals and hold them for ransom to support their operations, authorities speculated that the latest attack was an attempt to persuade President Andres Pastrana to take ELN more seriously.
Pastrana had prioritized peace with the far larger Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), even setting aside a Switzerland-sized portion of the country as a safe haven for the group.
El Tiempo newspaper editor Francisco Santos called the attack on the church a huge blunder by ELN. "They are messing with the Catholic Church," he said "That's a tough bull to fight." On Monday, Archbishop Alberto Giraldo, president of the Colombian bishops' conference, raised the possibility of excommunication of those who "profane the Eucharist."