Thursday, November 18, 1998
Thursday November 18:
Thirty-third Thursday in Ordinary Time and
Feast of the Dedication of the Basilicas of Sts. Peter & Paul in Rome and
Feast of Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne, Virgin, Religious and Missionary
Green or white vestments
First Reading: 1 Maccabees 2: 15-29
Psalms: Psalm 50: 1-2, 5-6, 14-15, 23
Gospel Reading: Luke 19: 41-44
Feast of the Dedication of Saints Peter and Paul Basilicas in Rome
Like St. John Lateran Basilica, the dedication of the Basilica of St. Peter's and the Basilica of St. Paul's dates back to the time of the Emperor Constantine. He had begun the construction of this Basilica after building the Lateran Basilica. After Constantine's death his son's completed the work as well as the work of St. Paul's Basilica which is today Saint Paul Outside the Walls St. Peter's was built over a pagan cemetery which had become a burial place for Christians including Saint Peter himself which was confirmed in 1950 by Pope Pius XII when he announced they had discovered the tomb of St. Peter. This had been surmised since the year 200 when Caius a priest had related in documents that Peter's relics were on Vatican Hill and the remains of Saint Paul could be found buried along the Ostian Way. Today the Tomb of St. Peter lies in a glass-encased vault deep below the main altar of St. Peter's Basilica and can be viewed by visitors. It is a symbol of the oneness, universality, and apostolic succession of the Church. The present basilica was begun by Pope Nicholas V forty years before Christopher Columbus discovered the New World. The initial plan of the great basilica was a Greek cross, projected by master architect Donato Bramante but was finished in the configuration of a Latin cross by the great Italian artist Raphael Santi around the turn of the 16th Century. In 1568 Pope Saint Pius V decreed the dedication of both these basilicas be celebrated on November 9th throughout the universal Church. In the late 1580's Pope Sixtus V completed the magnificent dome of St. Peter's Basilica designed by the master of masters Michelangelo and installed in St. Peter's Square the Egyptian obelisk, originally brought to Rome from Africa by the Emperor Caligula.
The Basilica of Saint Paul's Outside the Walls was consecrated in the year 390 by Pope Saint Siricus, the same pontiff who instituted the title "Pope" or "Papa" in Greek meaning "Father" which is also an anagram of the words "Petri Apostoli Potestatem Accipiens". Constantine had originally laid out the plans for the Basilica of St. Paul with a five-aisle scheme. St. Paul's fell into disrepair but was restored by Pope Saint Leo the Great around 450, resembling Constantine's basilica on Vatican Hill. The Benedictines were placed in charge of the Basilica in the 700's and have been there ever since. Over the years many frescoes, mosaics and marble masterpieces were added. In 1823 a violent fire damaged much of St. Paul's but it was restored by Pope Pius IX and reconsecrated in 1854, the same year he proclaimed the infallible dogma of the Immaculate Conception. Today the arcade consists of 146 white granite columns. The golden mosaics high on the exterior are by the Italian artist Vespignani and depict Christ giving His blessing flanked by St. Peter and St. Paul. Below that is the Lamb of God on the hill between Jerusalem and Bethlehem where four rivers pour forth and represent the Apostles, quenching the thirst of the flock which symbolizes mankind. Below that are the four standing figures of the Apostles. Like St. Peter's Basilica, the layout is configured to a Latin Cross with five aisles supported by 80 tall columns. Above the aisles are large mozaic portraits on medallions representing all 264 pontiffs from Peter to John Paul II.
Feast of Saint Rose Phillippine Duschesne , Virgin, Missionary and Religious
This saint, Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne was canonized in 1988 by Pope John Paul II. She was born on August 29, 1769 in Grenoble, France to a family whose father was a wealthy merchant. Educated by the Visitation nuns of Sainte Marie d'en Haut, a vocation was fostered to that order despite the protests of her parents who wanted her to marry. Rose had always had a desire to be a missionary, on fire with zeal for Jesus and wanting to share it with everyone. When the French Revolution broke out the Vistation nuns were forced to disperse and Rose was left alone. Her prayers to be reunited with a community of Visitation nuns were not answered, rather God chose a new order for Rose in 1804 - the Religious of the Sacred Heart which had been founded in 1800 by Mother Madeleine Sophie Barat. This was a missionary order of nuns which, through God's Providence, brought Sr. Rose to New Orleans in the southern United States in 1818. There, with four other nuns, Rose was sent up the Mississippi River by the bishop of New Orleans to St. Charles, Missouri where she founded the first American Sacred Heart house and began the first free school west of the Mississippi in a log cabin in Florissant just outside St. Louis. By 1828 there were six houses along the mighty Mississippi. It was here that she intervened with the Indians who had objected to the Jesuits and through her efforts and good will, preserved the Jesuit mission. At the age of 72, St. Rose resigned as head of the American branch of her Order to answer Jesuit missionary Father De Smet's call for her to pursue missionary work. With a handful of other hand-picked nuns she traveled farther west to Kansas where she opened a girls' school for the Cherokees and other Indian tribes in Sugar Creek, Kansas. Though she could not learn the Indians' dialect, she was able to communicate through her prayers and devout example. The Indians loved and admired this woman they called "The Woman Who Prays Always" that many conversions were manifested even though St. Rose was in Sugar Creek for only one year because ill health mandated that she return to the mother house in St. Charles where Rose died on October 18th, 1852. Her remains were enshrined at the mother house and her name is the first one listed on the Pioneer Roll of Fame in St. Louis' famed Jefferson Memorial Building. She played a major role in bringing the faith to the heartland of America where, in the gateway to the west, it has remained strong to this day. She was beatified in 1940 by Pope Pius XII before being canonized 48 years later.