The Thirty-First Clarion: Mobilizing the Laity
"I am with you all days, even unto the consummation of the world."
Matthew 28: 20
Last installment we detailed the efforts of Saint Nicholas Von Flue the precursor to the Swiss Guard. Today we fast forward three centuries to the late eighteenth century into the early nineteenth century and the interference of the "little general" - Napoleon Bonaparte and the Reign of Terror when King Louis XVI was deposed in France and anarchy broke out against not only those suspected of loyalty to the monarchy but against all Catholics, climaxing with the vulgar madness of beheading 215 priests and bishops before the angry mobs stormed the Bastille on July 14, 1789 and then placed a vile woman on the altar of the renowned and sacred Cathedral of Notre Dame and idolized this satanic charcter as the "Goddess of Reason." The new government aboloshed Sundays and all Holy Days on a new calendar issued to the citizens. All of Europe was rightfully alarmed as they could see the handwriting on the wall, they joined forces against the new government of France which dispatched a young general to march on the Papal States. He charged one of his officers General Berthier to take possesson of Rome and, following with the anti-papist platform of the new French government, declared that the temporal power of the Popes were finished, Catholicism was dead. He captured Pope Pius VI and handed him over to Napoleon who took him back to France in chains to be imprisoned. Pius VI died two years later in a dank jail cell in 1799. It was during the time of his imprisonment Our Lord chose a Roman mother and wife to convey the vision and message that would rally the faithful to saving Holy Mother Church. The woman was Blessed Elizabeth Mora who had been left to struggle raising two children since her husband had left her for another woman. Faithfully she stayed the course and she was rewarded by messages and interior visions. The following are from the notes by Paola Giovetta, the author of a biography of Blessed Mora which was published in 1992 in Rome at the same time as Pope John Paul II beatified her. In the first message Jesus consoled her, "My dear daughter, offer yourself to My Heavenly Father for the Church. I promise to help you." He then revealed to her a castle on the brink of collapse from the ramparts battering its walls outside and the political corruption within that threatened implosion. The latter of course was the corruption within the Vatican surrounding the Pope. She was given to see the Holy Father who was flanked by two angels and surrounded by cardinals and bishops of the curia who came across as ravenous wolves. Blessed Mora understood and from that day forward dedicated her life to doing all in her power to mobilize the laity, offering whatever suffering she would undergo for the reparation of sins and the glory and honor of God as well as the welfare of her beloved Church. She began immediately asking all she came in contact with to pray for the Holy Father and the Church, beginning, in effect a tremendous prayer crusade that gained unbelieveable circulation in a very short time. Such is the power of the Holy Spirit. In her evangelizing she came across another Roman housewife who had practically the same vision as she but nearly two decades before Blessed Elizabeth received hers. This woman, who had seven children, was none other than Blessed Anne Marie Taigi who had offered her life for the safety and welfare of the Holy Father since she had been nine. The grew to be close friends and together they spearheaded a spiritual campaign to that ultimately saved the Pope and the Church. After Pius VI's death, the College of Cardinals, under the protection of the German Emperor, met on an island just outside of Venice and elected a Benedictine Italian cardinal who chose the name Pope Pius VII in honor of his predecessor. True to Jesus' word he returned to Rome which had been without the presence of a pontiff for over two years. However satan had also returned in the person of those ravenous wolves in cardinals' clothing as revealed to the two women in private revelation. These mongerers had persuaded the Pope to flee Rome and they had clandestinely arranged for a carriage to take him to a waiting French ship docked in Civitavecchia which would ferry him to France. Unbeknownst to the Pope, there he would meet the same fate as his predecessor. But Jesus revealed the plot to the two women and they relied on the strength of the Holy Spirit to steal inside the Papal Palace and receive a private audience with Pius VII. They were able to convince him their plea was indeed from God and he believed, not only deciding not to leave but solemnly announcing it and then dismissing the majority of the cancerous cardinals who had infested the Holy See. For his obedience and the perseverance of these two women, the Church was not only spared in Rome, but in France, which had grown increasingly anti-Catholic, Napoleon had grown to great power replacing the leaders of the French Revolution and loomed as a great threat to all of Europe and the Church. But unexpectedly he relented from his pursuit of abolishing Catholicism and made peace with Pius VII. Many believe the prayer crusade, begun by Blessed Elizabeth and Marie, had reached France and thousand of French faithful raised their voices as one to Heaven and God answered their prayers for Napoleon would write that he could see the faithful of France, despite all the setbacks, still persisted in practicing their faith. That had scared him into relenting and compromising his quest for demolishing the Church. It was just after his treaty with the Pope in 1801 that Napoleon became France's emperor in 1804. To give his stature even more credibility and honor he invited Pius VII to crown him in Paris, similar to how the medieval popes had done with the Holy Roman Emperors. It was, on Napoleon's part, just a political ploy, but it backfired because the people went gaga when Pius entered French soil. Everywhere he drew crowds and adulation. This infuriated Napoleon who wanted all the glory for himself and in retaliation he remained cold toward the supreme pontiff, so much so that when Pius was about to place the crown on his head, he grabbed the tiarra from the Pope's hands and placed it on his own head himself. Napoleon would make life as difficult as he could for Pius throughout his reign, even taking forced possession of the Papal States in 1809 and, in the same manner as Pius VI, bringing Pius VII back to France in chains as his prisoner. To curtail any power Pius VII might have, Napoleon forbid him to communicate in anyway with the outside world, depriving him of all reading material including his Daily Breviary while in prison in Fontainebleau. But Pius VII persevered and by 1814, when Napoleon's armies were being soundly beaten by European allies formed to stop this madman, the "little general" had no choice but to release the Pope. A year later in the Treaty of Vienna or Treaty of Peace the victorious European nations forced Napoleon to sign a treaty which reverted the Papal States back to the Holy See, though Avignon was ceded to France and a small northern strip of land in the farthest northern regions of Italy was deeded to Austria.
The prayer crusade organized by Blessed Maria and Elizabeth had paid tremendous dividends and the Church was saved. To assure this would not happen again Pius VII took measures to make up for the harm done by Napoleon, signing concordats with various nations throughout Europe which, in effect, protected the rights of Holy Mother Church in those countries. He spearheaded a campaign to reeducate the people of France, ensuring they would receive a Christian education by reinstating the Jesuit Order which had been banned for so many years. Even though the spirit of revolution would not die and many European nations that had tasted the ideals of liberty, fraternity and equality espoused by the French Revolution nurtured the possibility of it working in their countries, it would be another century before this vile menace would truly take root in the Communist revolution in Russia and then the Nazi terror in Germany and the ultimate World War II. The end of Napoleon marked the end of monarchy as Europe had known it for so many centuries. From that time on any time a king would usurp his powers, the people would rise up against him. But prayer preserved the Church. Had Blessed Elizabeth and Maria not had the "holy hutspah" to bore into the Vatican private chambers to demand an interview with Pius VII there is no telling what might have happened with the papacy and the Church. France, which had been the seat of so much turmoil and terror against Rome, would in the new nineteenth century be blessed as the cradle of Our Lady's love for she would appear there numerous times beginning with Rue de Bac outside Paris and follow up with Lourdes - one of the most famous of apparitions and LaSalette. It would be the Catholic laity that would rally in support of the Church in France, always defending her against the onslaughts of the French government. Though there were some who were overzealous and overstepped their bounds such as Henry Lacordaire who was censured by the Holy Father for his writings. Rather than rebell, he submitted to Rome and became a great Dominican for the honor and glory of God and His Holy Church. Another great layman was Frederick Ozanam, a French attorney who suffered much through doubts about his faith, but God spoke to him alleviating his fears and doubts and he became a giant in the lay movement in France in the early to middle part of the nineteenth century, going on to found the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul.
As you can see the laity has played a significant role in helping preserve Holy Mother Church throughout history and in modern times an even greater part in staying the course as we near the end of the second millennium and await the glories ahead in the fabulous third millennium. In our editorial today we speak of those glories through a purported prophecy given to Saint Bernadette Soubirous that pertains to the glorious Golden Age of Mankind which is just around the corner. From Pius VII on there has been stability in the Church and no vacancy within the Holy See as she has grown in stature and prestige through the last two centuries. According to Our Lady's prophecy to Bernadette the Church will come into even greater power and influence with the return of millions of lost sheep to the True Fold once God reveals His truths to the world. In these time of dire shortages of priests and religious, the laity is again mobilizing through the Marian organizations and other ecclesial and evangelical groups including authorized charismatic movements and another massive prayer crusade is underway. The whole reason for the DAILY CATHOLIC is to promote this prayer crusade and inform Catholics of the daily scenario in the Church and on the front lines of battle. The vision and messages to Saint John Bosco bear out all that has happened to this point and, like Bernadette's letter to Pope Leo XIII, bears a fitting and glorious climax to the battle: Victory.
In the next several installments we shall deal with preparations for the much-anticipated Triumph of the Immaculate Heart for it is, happily and joyfully, inevitable. Alleluia!