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TUESDAY      March 2, 1999      SECTION ONE       vol 10, no. 42

To print out entire text of Today's issue, print this section as well as SECTION TWO

Climb every mountain!

      In today's editorial we rejoice at the news of the Holy Father moving mountains to waive the canonical rule for canonization stipulations in the case of Mother Teresa. We also celebrate the anniversaries of numerous "mountain men" who climbed to the top through their dedication to the Cross and God's Will for today are the birthdays of Pope Leo XIII and Pope Pius XII two giants among Vicars of Christ over the past two centuries who scaled heights few others are willing to attempt. For today's commentary entitled Maybe that's what is meant by "lonely at the top!", click on CATHOLIC PewPOINT.

Maybe that's what is meant by "lonely at the top!"

Michael Cain, editor

Renaissance Pope takes Rome by storm; reunifies Church in wake of schism and awakens love of the arts in all

      The question of supremacy of the Pope had been finally settled at the end of Pope Eugene IV's papacy; now it was time to heal the wounds of schism and ill feelings and start afresh. The man tabbed was Pope Nicholas V the cardinal of Bologna who had been weaned on the arts, bringing the concept of the Renaissance to Rome. In less than eight years Nicholas effected massive restorations and the beginning of a total makeover that would establish the Vatican as a leader of the Renaissance movement. Nicholas V is considered the "Father of the Renaissance in Rome" and the founder of the Vatican Library. These accomplishments were tempered by a lack of reform of the disciplines for the clergy and the definitive fall of Constantinople to the Turks. For the ninety-fifth installment titled Pope Nicholas V: First in the line of the Renaissance Popes , click on THE HISTORY OF THE MASS AND HOLY MOTHER CHURCH.
Installment Ninety-five

Pope Nicholas V: First in the line of the Renaissance Popes

      Hailing from the rich Florentine environment where the Renaissance was first born, Cardinal Tommaso Parentucelli was the compromise choice of the Conclave to replace the deceased Pope Eugene IV. Born in Sarzana, Italy near La Spezia, Tommaso was the son of a caring and giving doctor who truly lived his Hippocratic Oath. While his father was not wealthy, he was able to save enough to send his son to Bologna to study. Young Tommaso excelled so well that he was the choice of many Florentines to tutor them in their homes. Thus he was exposed to the arts in central Italy and carried this enthusiasm for the humanistic arts to the Vatican. On March 6, 1447 he took the name Pope Nicholas V out of respect for his bishop in Bologna Bishop Niccolo Albergati whom Tommaso had succeeded. Nicholas possessed something few of his predecessors had exhibited - patience and political savvy. He also had an excellent rapport with the influential Roman families and Italian patriarchs who had been at odds with many of his predecessor Popes. The people hailed Nicholas as the great unifier as he brought peace back to the eternal city, disbanding all mercenary troops and decreeing independence for his beloved Bologna which had been in revolt. With Italy in accord with the Holy See, he turned his attentions to Germany where, through the Concordat of Vienna he received recognition from Frederick III to make papal appointments in Germany without interference from the king or princes and dukes.

      One of his great accomplishments followed when he was able to do the impossible - bring to a peaceful conclusion the schism that had erupted at the Council of Basle with the "rump council" and the antipope Felix V. Through Nicholas' gentle persuasion he was able to convince King Charles VII of France to mediate between the Church and Felix. It worked to perfection with Felix willfully abdicating and reconciling with Rome and Nicholas on April 7, 1449. Nicholas willingly readmitted Felix's cardinals to good standing in the Church and, in celebration of the reunification of all in the Western Church, proclaimed 1450 a Jubilee Year. He established Rome as the focal point for pilgrims to come during this year and it was then when Nicholas made grandiose plans for a lasting Vatican City people could visit, one that would remind them of the great traditions of the Church and her saints and instill a reverence that would last. He foresaw the Church as the trendsetter of culture. Thus he initiated the Renaissance at the Vatican, employing the great Fra Angelico and his able assistant Benozzo Gozzoli to begin adorning the churches, palaces and other buildings throughout Rome and Vatican Hill. It was the beginning of a makeover of the exterior of the Holy See that over the next century would prove to fulfill his vision with the emergence of such Renaissance masters as Raphael, Michelangelo and Bernini. Nicholas can be considered the true founder of the Vatican Library having left over a thousand Greek and Latin manuscripts to posterity.

      Besides being a great lover and visionary of the arts, Nicholas was a stickler for reform but lacked the manpower and time-management to truly put this in motion. He did elevate the great Franciscan reformer Saint Bernardine of Siena to sainthood as an example to all and, in the face of various heresies and abuses arising throughout Europe, he dispatched legates to "hotspots" throughout Europe accompanied by the renowned Cardinal Nicholas de Cusa and Saint John Capistrano to Germany and Cardinal d'Estouteville to France.

      In Nicholas' growing passion to develop more arts, sculptures and paintings Nicholas often was duped by artists who flocked to Rome because of the generous stipends they would receive with little thought to living their faith. Scandal often accompanied these early Renaissance artists and this was one of the faults Stefano Porcaro used to try to blackmail and depose Nicholas after he himself had been rebuked for his own fanatical humanistic views. Porcaro grew to be a burr in Nicholas's saddle in 1453 and, though the attempt to overthrow Nicholas thankfully failed, this insubordination affected Nicholas's health greatly in his final years. It began on March 19, 1452 when Nicholas crowned Frederick III as Holy Roman Emperor. He would be the last emperor to be so crowned in Rome. Early in 1453 the good times of Nicholas' papacy seemed to fade with two events. The first was the revelation of a plot by Porcaro, an avowed republican fanatic who envisioned a return to the political and cultural times of ancient Rome, who, as mentioned above, sought to try to discredit the Pope and depose him. This plot failed and Nicholas signed the execution of Porcaro and his fellow-conspirators. This capital punishment haunted Nicholas for the rest of his papacy. Adding to this was news that the great Constantinople had fallen at the hands of the Saracen Turk Mohammed II, thus bringing to an end the magnificent Byzantine Empire and adding a heavier burden on him as the leader of Christendom which had badly been defeated in the east by the Saracens. These weighed heavily on Nicholas' conscience and a severe case of the gout disabled him greatly over the final two years of his pontificate. Though he had disdained any desire for nepotism and greed as a loyal pontiff intent on rebuilding the Church, he felt he had failed both for the previous two reasons and that he felt he had failed to become the restorer of Rome that he had hoped to be. In retrospect, he hadn't really failed at this, but he had set the bar so high that anything that came in under it would have been considered a failure in his eyes. But his eyes never left the ultimate Prize - his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ Whom Nicholas represented on earth as His vicar. He died on March 24, 1455 after a productive eight year pontificate despite his own feelings of inadequacy. It would be left to his successor Pope Callistus III to carry on what Nicholas had begun, but the former had no interest in the arts, only in reclaiming Constantinople for Christianity to which he poured most of his efforts.

Next issue: Pope Callistus III: The Constantinople Crusade consumes Callistus

The twilight of the times

      As we near the twilight of the time when Mary's Divine Son will usher in the New Advent - the Reign of the Sacred Heart, Our Lady reminds us to stay the course and continue during Lent to meditate on His Passion, reminding us of the events at Lazarus' home just before the Last Supper as she describes in her Meditation to the Hidden Flower of the Immaculate Heart in part three of Meditative Lesson 3, WITH THE APOSTLES ON THE EVE OF PASSOVER as we continue these inspiring lessons on the Passion throughout Lent. Click on "IT IS CONSUMMATED!"

Meditative Lesson 3:


part three



CATHOLIC CANVAS: Daily Dose of curious contents of the Church

Congregation for the Causes of Saints

      Pope John Paul II has waived the stipulation for the canonization procedure in the exception of Mother Teresa. Since he wrote the Apostolic Constitution Divinus Perfectionis Magisteri on January 25, 1983 he has the right as the Supreme Pontiff to do this and he has exercised this right to the applause of countless Catholics and millions others around the world. The normal process goes through the Congregation for the Causes of Saints which handles matters connected with beatification and canonization causes in accordance with the revised procedures the Pope decreed in 1983 in his Apostolic Constitution above. The Curial Office is headed by Bishop Jose Saraiva Martins as Prefect. This office was first created by Pope Sixtus V in 1588 as the Congregation of Rites and went untouched until 1930 when Pope Pius XI changed some of the legislation. Pope Paul VI in his Apostolic Constitution of 1969 changed the title to its present moniker and defined the canonization functions and procedures which were restructured and revised by John Paul II in the aforementioned Divinus Perfectionis Magisteri. With the Holy Father's declaration that he is waiving some of the requirements, it expedites Mother's canonization process. In effect, she has been sent to the head of the class of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, a Curial Office that has a ten-year backlog on candidates for beatifications and canonizations. This makes it highly possible that she could have an "express" to being formally recognized as a saint of the Church even though billions the world over already considered her a "living saint" while she walked among us just a while ago. (sources: 1999 Catholic Almanac Our Sunday Visitor; The Official Catholic Directory, P.J. Kennedy & Sons).

February 25th Medjugorje Monthly Message

    Dear children! Also today I am with you in a special way contemplating and living the passion of Jesus in my heart. Little children, open your hearts and give me everything that is in them: joys, sorrows and each, even the smallest, pain, that I may offer them to Jesus; so that with His immeasurable love, He may burn and transform your sorrows into the joy of His resurrection. That is why, I now call you in a special way, little children, for your hearts to open to prayer, so that through prayer you may become friends of Jesus. Thank you for having responded to my call.
For more on Medjugorje, click on MEDJUGORJE AND MORE

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March 2, 1999 volume 10, no. 42   DAILY CATHOLIC