MONDAY, November 17


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MONDAY, November 17, 1997

Monday, November 17:
Feast of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, Wife, Mother, and Religious

Saint Elizabeth of Hungary

      The daughter of Saint Hedwig and King Andrew II, Catholic ruler of Hungary, Saint Elizabeth was born in 1207. At the age of four she was promised in marriage to Louis IV from Thuringia. Ten years later she was married to him in an elaborate royal ceremony. Early in their marriage her husband, who had become King, rebuked her because she was always serving people. "That's no work for a queen" he reprimanded her, demanding to know what she was carrying in her cloak. He pulled open her cloak and instead of finding provisions for the poor as he expected, out cascaded lovely red and white roses. He knew then that she was indeed a holy woman and from that point on he dedicated his life to sharing in her ministry. They lived their vows above reproach, conceiving three children. While in labor with her third child, word reached her that her husband Louis had been killed in battle during the Cursade led by Holy Roman Emperor King Frederick II. At twenty years of age Elizabeth, now Queen and widow, went into mourning. Rather than accepting the offers of several suitors, she opted to remain a widow and turned her attention to the poor and ill, vacating the luxurious castle at Wartburg to dedicate the rest of her life to helping others. She founded a hospital at Marburg, dedicating it to Saint Francis who had just been canonized and took up the gray habit of the Francican tertiaries to work in the hospital she had established. Her charitable works became well-known and the fruits of that love and charity spread far and wide after her death at the tender age of 24. Falling ill from the plague that had claimed many of the hospital patients, Elizabeth herself, not one to rest, contracted the disease and died in the hospital on November 16, 1231. Almost immediately miracles were attributed to her by those who touched her tomb. Four years later the clamor and evidence was so solid that Pope Gregory IX canonized her, three years after making Francis a saint. Since the thirteenth century she, along with Saint Louis IX have been the patron saints of Franciscan tertiaries. She is also patron saint of bakers.

TUESDAY, November 18, 1997

November 18: Thirty-third Tuesday in Ordinary Time and

Feast of the Dedication of the Basilicas of Saints Peter and Saint Paul and
Feast of Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne, Virgin, Religious and Missionary

      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 St. 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.

Visitors in 1997