VATICAN: POPE SPECIAL MESSAGE FOR GERMANY- OTHER NEWS
BENEDICT XVI TALKS ABOUT HIS FORTHCOMING TRIP TO GERMANY
VATICAN CITY, 17 SEP 2011 (VIS) - During the course of the programme "Wort zum Sontag" aired today by the German ARD television network, the Holy Father addressed some words to his fellow Germans in view of his apostolic trip to the country later this week. The recording was made in Castelgandolfo some days ago.
"I am very happy to be departing for Germany in a few days' time", said the Pope. "I think with particular joy of Berlin where I will attend many meetings and, naturally, of my address to the Bundestag and the great Mass we will celebrate at the Olympic stadium.
"One of the most important moments of the visit will be in Erfurt. In that Augustinian monastery, that Augustinian church where Luther began his journey, I will have the chance to meet the representatives of the Evangelical Church inGermany. Together we will pray, hear the Word of God, reflect and discuss. We are not expecting anything sensational; indeed, the greatness of the event lies precisely in the fact that, in that place, we can reflect together, listen to the Word of God and pray. This intimate proximity will be an expression of authentic ecumenism.
"The meeting at Eichsfeld is particularly significant for me: that small strip of land which, despite all the vicissitudes of history, has remained Catholic. After that we will move on to southwest Germanyand the great city of Freiburg im Breisgauwhere many meetings will take place, particularly the vigil with young people and the great Mass which concludes my trip.
"This is not religious tourism; still less is it a 'show'. Its significance is well expressed in the motto accompanying these days: 'Where God is, there lies the future'. What this means is that we must restore God to our horizon, the God Who is so often absent but of Whom we have such great need.
"You may ask me: 'But, does God exist? And if He exists does He really concern Himself with us? Can we reach Him?' It is, indeed, true that we cannot place God on the table, we cannot touch Him or pick Him up like an ordinary object. We must rediscover our capacity to perceive God, a capacity that exists within us. We can get some idea of the greatness of God in the greatness of the Cosmos. We can use the world through technology because the world is built in a rational way; and in the great rationality of the world we can get some idea of the Creator Spirit from which it comes; in the beauty of creation we can get some idea of the beauty, the greatness and the goodness of God. In Holy Scripture we hear the words of eternal life; they do not simply come from men, they come from Him and in them we hear His voice. Finally, we may also catch some glimpse of God through meeting people who have been touched by Him. I am not just thinking of the great (of Paul, Francis of Assisi or Mother Teresa), I am thinking of the many simple people about whom nobody speaks. Yet when we meet them they emanate some quality of goodness, sincerity and joy, and we know that God is there and that He also touches us. Thus, over these days, let us commit ourselves to seeing God again, to becoming people who bring the light of hope into the world, a light that comes from God and that helps us to live".
SPECIAL ENVOY FOR THE CENTENARY OF MOSCOW CATHEDRAL
VATICAN CITY, 17 SEP 2011 (VIS) - Made public today was a Letter, written in Latin and dated 2 August, in which the Pope appoints Cardinal Jozef Tomko, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, as his special envoy to celebrations marking the centenary of the dedication of the cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Moscow, Russian Federation. The event is due to take place on 25 September.
Cardinal Tomko will be accompanied on his mission by Fr. Viktor Jakubov, national director of the Pontifical Missionary Works for Slovakia and former spiritual director and prefect of the Queen of the Apostles inter-diocesan seminary in St. Petersburg, and by Fr. Josif Zanevsky S.D.B., pastor of the cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.
VATICAN CITY, 18 SEP 2011 (VIS) - At midday today the Holy Father prayed the Angelus with faithful gathered in the internal courtyard of the Apostolic Palace at Castelgandolfo. Before the Marian prayer he dedicated some remarks to the second reading from this morning's liturgy, taken from St. Paul's Letter to the Philippians.
Benedict XVI recalled how Paul had travelled to the Greek city of Philippi some twenty years after the death and resurrection of Christ, being the first time that the Gospel reached Europe. Starting from Jerusalem, the Good News "was destined to reach all men and all peoples, to transform all cultures from within, opening them to the fundamental truth that God is love, that He became man in Jesus and that His sacrifice saved humankind from the slavery of evil, giving it an unfailing hope", the Pope said,
In his own person, St. Paul was an embodiment of the three main worlds of that time: Jewish, Greek and Roman, said the Pope. It was for this reason that "God entrusted him with the mission of carrying the Gospel from Asia Minor to Greece, and then Rome, building a bridge that would carry Christianity to the ends of the earth".
"Today we live in an age of new evangelisation. Vast horizons are opening to the announcement of the Gospel, while regions of ancient Christian tradition are called to rediscover the beauty of the faith".
The protagonists of the evangelising mission are "individuals, families and communities who agree to work in the vineyard of the Lord. ... Humble and generous workers who ask no other reward than to be able to share the mission of Jesus and of the Church. ... The Gospel has transformed the world and continues to transform it".
Benedict XVI concluded by praying to the Virgin Mary "for priestly, religious and lay vocations to arise throughout the Church, in order to serve the new evangelisation".
Pray that all children may receive an education
Following the Angelus the Holy Father addressed greetings in different languages to several pilgrim groups. He mentioned yesterday's beatification in the Italian city of Turin of Msgr. Francesco Paleari of the Society of St. Joseph Cottolengo. "Born to a humble peasant family at Pogliano Milanese in 1863, he entered the seminary when very young and, having been ordained, dedicated himself to the poor and sick in the Little House of Divine Providence. He also worked as a teacher, distinguishing himself for his cordiality and patience. Let us give thanks to God for this shining witness of His love".
Addressing French-speaking pilgrims, the Pope recalled the fact that schools are now reopening after the summer break, and he invited parents "to take the time to listen and speak to their children about their experiences. In this way", he said, "you will help them make the right decisions. Family and school are the good earth in which to sow the humankind of tomorrow". And he concluded by asking people to pray that children everywhere may receive the education to which they are entitled".
VATICAN CITY, 19 SEP 2011 (VIS) - "As part of its ancient and rich heritage, India has a long and distinguished Christian presence which has contributed to Indian society and benefited your culture in innumerable ways, enriching the lives of countless fellow citizens, not just those who are Catholic", said the Pope this morning receiving a sixth group of prelates from the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India who are currently completing their "ad limina" visit. The group included bishops from the provinces of Agra, New Delhi and Bhopal, as well as from the apostolic vicariate of Nepal.
"The Church in India proclaims its faith and love to society at large, and puts these into action through a concern for all people, in every aspect of their spiritual and material lives. ... In particular, the Catholic Church is the friend of the poor. Like Christ, she welcomes without exception all who approach her to hear the divine message of peace, hope and salvation. Moreover, in obedience to the Lord, she continues to do so without regard for 'tribe and tongue and people and nation', for in Christ, we 'are one body'. It is thus imperative that the clergy, religious and catechists in your dioceses be attentive to the diverse linguistic, cultural and economic circumstances of those whom they serve.
Continuing his English-language remarks the Pope told the prelates: "You, dear brothers, must take into account the challenges that the missionary nature of the Church entails, you must always be prepared to spread the Kingdom of God and to walk in the footsteps of Christ, Who was Himself misunderstood, despised, falsely accused and Who suffered for the sake of truth. Do not be deterred when such trials arise in your own ministry, and in that of your priests and religious. Our belief in the certainty of Christ's Resurrection gives us confidence and courage to face all that may come and to press forward, building the Kingdom of God".
The Holy Father then went on to recall how local Churches in India have recently commemorated the twenty-fifth anniversary of John Paul II's first apostolic visit to the country. "During those memorable days, he had several notable encounters with leaders of other religious traditions. Manifesting his personal respect for his interlocutors, this blessed Pope gave an authentic witness to the value of inter-religious dialogue".
"I encourage you, dear brothers, to carry forward the Church's efforts to promote the well-being of Indian society through continued attention to the promotion of basic rights - rights shared by all humanity - and by inviting your fellow Christians and the followers of other religious traditions to take up the challenge of affirming the dignity of each and every human person. ... I pray that the followers of Christ inIndia will continue to be promoters of justice, bearers of peace, people of respectful dialogue, and lovers of the truth about God and about man".
VATICAN CITY, 19 SEP 2011 (VIS) - The Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff today announced that at 6 p.m. on Wednesday 28 September Cardinal Domenico Bartolucci, former director of the Pontifical Choir, will take possession of the diaconate of the Most Holy Names of Jesus and Mary in Via Lata, Via del Corso 45, Rome.
VATICAN CITY, 19 SEP 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences two prelates from the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India, on their "ad limina" visit:
- Archbishop Leo Cornelio S.V.D. of Bhopal, India.
- Bishop Anthony Francis Sharma S.J., apostolic vicar of Nepal.
On Saturday 17 September, he received in separate audiences:
- Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco archbishop of Genoa, Italy and president of the Italian Episcopal Conference.
- Seven prelates from the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India, on their "ad limina" visit:
- Bishop Anil Joseph Thomas Couto of Jullundur.
- Bishop Ignatius Lojola Mascarenhas of Simla and Chandigarh.
- Bishop Joseph Kaithathara of Gwalior.
- Bishop Chacko Thottumarickal S.V.D. of Indore.
- Bishop Gerald Almeida of Jabalpur.
- Bishop Devprasad John Ganawa S.V.D. of Jhabua.
- Bishop Arockia Sebastian Durairaj S.V.D. of Khandwa.
VATICAN CITY, 19 SEP 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Bishop Peter A.Libasci, auxiliary of the diocese of Rockville Centre, U.S.A., as bishop of Manchester (area 24,097, population 1,315,809, Catholics 309,987, priests 269, permanent deacons 52, religious 528), U.S.A. The bishop-elect was born inJackson Heights, U.S.A. in 1951. He studied at St. John's University inQueensand the St. Meinrad School of Theology, and was ordained a priest in 1978. Incardinated in the diocese of Rockville Centre he worked as parochial vicar then pastor in a number of parishes before receiving episcopal ordination in 2007. He succeeds Bishop John B. McCormack, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.
The Sisters of Jesus, Mary and Joseph congregation in East Nusa Tenggara province’s North Central Timor district have recently begun a day care center for children aged 3-6.
Seven children are being cared for by four nuns and two medical workers at the center, called the St. Mary’s Nirmala Clinic for Mothers and Children in the town of Kefamenanu.
The center began operating on September 14 and most of the children have working parents.
The center, which is open from 7am to 5pm, doesn’t charge the parents but welcomes donations.
As well as taking care of children, the day care center also gives advice to mothers on how they and their children can live healthy lives such as proper nutrition for mothers and their offspring.
“This day care center aims to offer help to local people. We not only take care of the children but also provide their all sorts of tips on how mothers and children can stay healthy,” Sister Dorothea Poliwa, the center’s coordinator said.
One of the mothers, Vincentia Bani, says the center will be a great help to parents
“It’s a good thing. We know our children are in safe hands while we are at work, and the advice they give is really helpful,” she said.
This Sunday, we hear another parable from Jesus, using the popular image of a vineyard. It is helpful to remember that He, as God’s Son, entered the “vineyard of creation” through the Incarnation. He came for the work of redemption, salvation, and sanctification of the whole human race. He came as the Just One to restore what had been lost through our disobedience, namely, our adoption as sons and daughters of God. He came to reunite us, to graft us again to the tree of Life, that our joy might be complete, and that we might have Life to the full.
He tells us “I am the Vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5) Jesus leads the way for us, modelling how to work in the Vineyard of God’s Kingdom. In His humanity, He demonstrates for us how to live each moment in intimate union with the Father, so as to bear much fruit, fruit that remains. “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vine grower.” (John 15:1)
In each of Jesus’ encounters and every Word He spoke, the work of God’s justice was being achieved. In every healing and miracle, He revealed in a fresh and new way, the power and love of God. As He poured out His own blood on the cross, the work of our redemption reaches it climax. The Paschal Mystery of His suffering, death, and resurrection is the culmination of His saving work; the price paid for our redemption that is far more precious than any gold or silver. Surely the vineyard is a place for laboring, laboring in love.
Today, in Matthew’s parable, Jesus invites us into the vineyard, and promises us a just wage. As He labored in this life in communion with the Father, so are we to labor in all moments and in every area of life, in communion with Jesus. Our faith is not to be some compartmentalized part of life, separated from everything else. Our communion with Jesus (I am the vine, you are the branches) is at the heart of who we are, and all that we do. We are to bring this presence of Christ into each and every relationship and activity of our life. In His divinity, Jesus now continues his work through the Church, through the Sacraments, and through us, His members.
Our labor and good works now extend the work of Jesus well beyond the streets and byways of the Holy Land of old to the many cultures or our world today. This is what the Church exists for, the work of mission and ministry, which is extending the work of Jesus. Regardless our state in life, we belong to Christ. Regardless our profession or passion, it finds its fulfillment in Christ.
Jesus’ life was a clear teaching that life is about love, and love is about pouring ones self out for another. This is the greatest human labor, to love God and our neighbor. This labor of love knows its own reward; the “just wage” accompanies the work. If we labor for any wage short of “what is just” in the eyes of God, it will never satisfy. The labor is love, the reward is Love Eternal!
“At the end of the meal, knowing that He was to reconcile all things in Himself by the blood of His cross, He took the cup filled with wine. Again, He gave you thanks, handed the cup to His friends, and said: Take this, all of you, and drink from it: this is the cup of My blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant. It will be shed for you and for all so that sins may be forgiven. Do this in memory of Me.” (Eucharistic Prayer For Masses of Reconciliation I)
The film begins at the mother house near Marble Arch, London, where the order was established in 1903, before moving on to newer houses on the Atlantic shores of Cork Harbour, the Irish Republic, and in Largs, Scotland.
It also offers a window into the lives of the nuns in monasteries situated in such locations as Pacific fishing villages in Latin America, aloft Andean peaks, amid the Blue Mountains of Australia and the rural beauty of New Zealand, as well as the frenetic bustle of cosmopolitan Rome. It shows nuns entering the convents as novices as well as making their final professions and movingly reveals how the monasteries both benefit and are supported by the communities in which they flourish.
This unique and beautifully-made film, the work of a former West End fashion and beauty photographer, also offers the viewer a vivid and authentic insight into the spirituality of the mothers, based on work, prayer and, most importantly, on perpetual adoration of Jesus Christ in the Most Holy Eucharist.
The film shows the infamous 'black map' tracing the route along which scores of Catholic martyrs were drawn to the Tyburn Tree to be executed. It also tells how a French nun, Marie Adele Garnier, fulfilled a prophecy, made amid the frenzy of the persecution, of how a religious house would stand at Tyburn in honour of the ultimate sacrifices made by Catholics during the Reformation;
Scenes in Ireland show the nuns of St Benedict’s Priory at work in their colonial-style former British Admiralty building overlooking scenic Cork Harbour, and visitors absorbing the peace and tranquillity of a garden constructed especially for the bereaved parents of deceased children.
Mother Xavier McMonagle said: “I think this film would interest everyone who is keen to discover more about how cloistered Benedictine nuns actually live and how their charism of prayer, Eucharistic adoration and hospitality influence the wider Catholic and Christian community.
“Also, the joy and beauty of lives dedicated to the contemplative monastic life which flow out from this film make it a powerful educational medium for those who sincerely seek God and godliness in a secular world.
“I would see this film as having its place in restoring the religious faith in religious life itself today, in families and schools as part of promoting the value of monastic life, a tool for leading people to prayer and also for promoting vocations to the religious and monastic life in general.
“Finally I feel strongly that it will serve as an introduction to the holiness of the foundress of the Tyburn Nuns - Mother Marie Adele Garnier and her charism of Eucharistic adoration.”
Director Michael Luke Davies said: “I was moved to tears many times by the beauty of what I was filming. For me, it exceeded my expectations of what I could film … It was an incredible experience I shall never forget for the rest of my life. The things I have seen and the moments I have shared with these beautiful religious people I will keep with me for ever.”
Tyburn Convent Gloria Deo will be available for purchase following the launch of the DVD at Tyburn Convent, priced £15. To request copies of the Tyburn Convent Gloria Deo please contact Mother Hildegarde at Tyburn Convent on 020 7723 7262, by sending an email to the nuns at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by writing to them at Tyburn Convent, 8 Hyde Park Place, London W2 2LJ. Copies of the DVD will soon also be available for purchase through Catholic bookshops.
Sydney Archdiocese REPORT
15 Sep 2011
A defender of the weak and vulnerable refugees and migrants to Australia, Bishop Joe Grech radiated the joy of his faith, the Bishop of Sale, the Most Rev Christopher Prowse said in tribute to the beloved prelate who died in December last year aged 62.
Delivering the keynote address at the inaugural Bishop Joseph Grech Memorial Colloquium in Melbourne last week, Bishop Prowse said there was something very special about Bishop Joe, as he was universally known.
"His Mediterranean expansiveness and character enabled him to relax people and bring a smile to their faces. Big hearted and totally open to the dwelling of the Holy Spirit, he was a man rich in humanity," Bishop Prowse said adding; "Nobody could say 'Alleluia' quite like Bishop Joe."
At the Colloquium, Bishop Prowse recalled how Bishop Joe had come to Australia as a migrant from Malta. As a migrant and with his genuine and profound Christianity, Bishop Joe could see Jesus in the fragility of Australia's newest arrivals in their search for a home away from their country of origin, he said.
"Bishop Joe came here as a migrant, he served us as a priest and bishop, and he died as a defender of Australia's refugees and migrants."
As the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC) Delegate for Migrants and Refugees, Bishop Joe frequently raised his voice in regard to the treatment of asylum seekers and in July 2008, praised the then Federal Government's announcement that it would restrict the use of mandatory detention.
He was also a vigorous campaigner for the rights of those with disabilities and lobbied the Government to review immigration procedures in relation to people with disabilities.
"I accept any immigration scheme must be subject to rules and criteria, but to make a disability a reason for refusing a family permanent residency is not acceptable," Bishop Joe said in October 2008 adding that although sadly it was the norm in our world for international laws and customs not permit people with disability free movement across borders, they should be given the right to settle in a country of their choice on equal terms with others.
Bishop Prowse praised the late prelate for his ability to see refugees and migrants with the eyes of faith and pointed out: "We are the descendants of the Exodus people of the Old Testament. We worship Jesus who, with his mother and foster father, became unexpected refugees when they fled from certain death and went into exile for a time in Egypt during King Herod's slaughter of the Holy Innocents."
However, he acknowledged that today there was an unprecedented movement of peoples throughout the world. In this regard the Catholic Church held the principle both of a nation's basic right to protect its borders AND the principle of affording every migrant and refugee to its shores respect and human dignity and protection of their human rights, he said.
However polls and statistics of Australians' views on refugees seemed to suggest the principle of border control had become the overwhelmingly paramount issue while the other principle of human rights of refugees was running a sad second, Bishop Prowse charged and said this needed to be remedied so there was a proper balance between the two principles.
But he cautioned against going to the other extreme so that the human rights of refugees completely overshadowed the importance of border control, saying this was a scenario that was naive and utopian that could have "dangerous consequences to our national security, and the peace we enjoy and treasure in Australia."
"It is the paramount responsibility for governments to regulate border control on our behalf," he said. "But when it is all about border control and nothing else, Australians become selfish and victimise refugees even before their incredible stories can be told. Migrants and refugees are human persons, most often vulnerable persons, who need our welcome and our help."
Urging Australians to protect the human dignity of newcomers to our country, Bishop Prowse spoke of how Bishop Joe, through his life and his teaching, made a real contribution in "softening our hardness of hearts" towards refugees and migrants.
"We are so grateful for knowing him," he said.
BISHOP AND MARTYR
Feast: September 19
275, Benevento or Naples, Campania, Roman Empire
305, Pozzuoli, Campania
Cathedral of San Gennaro, Naples, Italy
blood banks; Naples; volcanic eruptions
St. Januarius is believed to have suffered in the persecution of Diocletian, c. 305. With regard to the history of his life and martyrdom, we know next to nothing. The various collections of "Acts", though numerous (cf. Bibliotheca Hagiographica Latina, n. 4115-4140), are all extremely late and untrustworthy. Bede (c. 733) in his "Martyrologium" has epitomized the so-called "Acta Bononiensia" (see Quentin, "Les Martyrologes historiques", 76). To this source we may trace the following entry in the present Roman Martyrology, though the reference to the miracle of the liquefaction is an addition of much later date. "At Pozzuoli in Campania [the memory] of the holy martyrs Januarius, Bishop of Beneventum, Festus his deacon, and Desiderius lector, together with Socius deacon of the church of Misenas, Proculus deacon of Pozzuoli, Eutyches and Acutius, who after chains and imprisonment were beheaded under the Emperor Diocletian. The body of St. Januarius was brought to Naples, and there honourably interred in the church, where his holy blood is kept unto this day in a phial of glass, which being set near his head becomes liquid and bubbles up as though it were fresh."
In the Breviary a longer account is given. There we are told that "Timotheus, President of Campania," was the official who condemned the martyrs, that Januarius was thrown into a fiery furnace, but that the flames would not touch him, and that the saint and his companions were afterwards exposed in the amphitheatre to wild beasts without any effect. Timotheus declaring that this was due to magic, and ordering the martyrs to be beheaded, the persecutor was smitten with blindness, but Januarius cured him, and five thousand persons were converted to Christ before the martyrs were decapitated. Then, as the Breviary lesson continues, "the cities of these coasts strove to obtain their bodies for honourable burial, so as to make sure of having them advocates with God. By God's will, the relics of Januarius were taken to Naples at last, after having been carried from Pozzuoli to Beneventum and from Beneventum to Monte Vergine. When they were brought thence to Naples they were laid in the chief church there and have been there famous on account of many miracles. Among these is remarkable the stopping of eruptions of Mount Vesuvius, whereby both that neighbourhood and places afar off have been like to be destroyed. It is also well known and is the plain fact, seen even unto this day, that when the blood ofSt. Januarius, kept dried up in a small glass phial, is put in sight of the head of the same martyr, it is wont to melt and bubble in a very strange way, as though it had but freshly been shed."
It is especially this miracle of the liquefaction which has given celebrity to the name of Januarius, and to this we turn our attention. Let it at once be said that the supposition of any trick or deliberate imposture is out of the question, as candid opponents are now willing to admit. For more than four hundred years this liquefaction has taken place at frequent intervals. If it were a trick it would be necessary to admit that all the archbishops of Naples, and that countless ecclesiastics eminent for their learning and often for their great sanctity, were accomplices in the fraud, as also a number of secular officials; for the relic is so guarded that its exposition requires the concurrence of both civil and ecclesiastical authority. Further, in all these four hundred years, no one of the many who, upon the supposition of such a trick, must necessarily have been in the secret, has made any revelation or disclosed how the apparent miracle is worked. Strong indirect testimony to this truth is borne by the fact that even at the present time the rationalistic opponents of a supernatural explanation are entirely disagreed as to how the phenomenon is to be accounted for.
What actually takes place may be thus briefly described: in a silver reliquary, which in form and size somewhat suggests a small carriage lamp, two phials are enclosed. The lesser of these contains only traces of blood and need not concern us here. The larger, which is a little flagon-shaped flask four inches in height and about two and a quarter inches in diameter, is normally rather more than half full of a dark and solid mass, absolutely opaque when held up to the light, and showing nodisplacment when the reliquary is turned upside down. Both flasks seem to be so fixed in the lantern cavity of the reliquary by means of some hard gummy substance that they are hermetically sealed. Moreover, owing to the fact that the dark mass in the flask is protected by two thicknesses of glass it is presumably but little affected by the temperature of the surrounding air. Eighteen times in each year, i.e. (1) on theSaturday before the first Sunday in May and the eight following days, (2) on the feast of St. Januarius (19 Sept.) and during the octave, and (3) on 16 December, a silver bust believed to contain the head of St. Januarius is exposed upon the altar, and the reliquary just described is brought out and held by the officiant in view of the assembly. Prayers are said by the people, begging that the miracle may take place, while a group of poor women, known as the "zie di San Gennaro" (aunts of St. Januarius), make themselves specially conspicuous by the fervour, and sometimes, when the miracle is delayed, by the extravagance, of their supplications.
The officiant usually holds the reliquary by its extremities, without touching the glass, and from time to time turns it upside down to note whether any movement is perceptible in the dark mass enclosed in the phial. After an interval of varying duration, usually not less than two minutes or more than an hour, the mass is gradually seen todetach itself from the sides of the phial, to become liquid and of a more or less ruby tint, and in some instances to froth and bubble up, increasing in volume. The officiant then announces, "Ilmiracolo é fatto", a Te Deum is sung, and the reliquary containing the liquefied blood is brought to the altar rail that the faithful may venerate it by kissing the containing vessel. Rarely has the liquefaction failed to take place in the expositions of May or September, but in that of 16 December the mass remains solid more frequently than not.
It is of course natural that those who are reluctant to admit the supernatural character of the phenomenon should regard the liquefaction as simply due to the effects of heat. There are, they urge, certain substances (e.g. a mixture of spermaceti and ether) which have a very low boiling point. The heat produced by the hands of the officiant, the pressing throng of spectators, thelights on the altar, and in particular the candle formerly held close to the reliquary to enable the people to see that the mass is opaque, combine to raise the temperature of the air sufficiently to melt the substance in the phial--a substance which is assumed to be blood, but which no one has ever analysed. Further, ever since the early years of the eighteenth century, sceptical scientists, by using certain chemical preparations, have reconstructed the miracle with more or less of success; that is to say, they have been able to exhibit some red substance which, though at first apparently solid, melted after an interval without any direct application of heat. None the less, it may be said withabsolute confidence that the theory of heat affords no adequate explanation of the phenomena observed.
For more than a century careful observations of the temperature of the air in the neighbourhood of the relic have been made on these occasions and the records have been kept. It is certain from the scientific memoirs of Professors Fergola, Punzo, and Sperindeo that there is no direct relation between the temperature, and the time and manner of the liquefaction. Often when the thermometer has stood at 77° Fahrenheit or even higher, liquefaction has been delayed for as much as twenty or even forty minutes, while on the other hand the contents of the phial have sometimesliquefied in considerably less time than this when the thermometer remained as low as 60 or 65 degrees. Moreover, the heat theory by no means accounts for another more remarkable fact observed for quite two hundred years past. The mass in melting commonly increased in volume, but when itsolidifies again it does not necessarily return to its original bulk. Sometimes the whole phial is seen to be occupied, at other times hardly more than half. This has led a Neapolitan scientist of modern times, Professor Albini, to suggest a new physical theory derived from observing the behaviour of a viscous fluid such as partly congealed honey. He conjectures that the unknown substance in the phial consists of some highly divided solid matter which is partly held in suspension by a disproportionately small quantity of liquid. When at rest, the liquid sinks to the bottom of the phial, while the solid particles form a sort of crust not easily displaced when the vessel is turned upside down. This cohesion is however overcome by repeated movements, such as those that the reliquary experiences when the moment of liquefaction is impatiently waited for. Further, such a viscous fluid easily cakes upon the walls of the containing vessel, and admits large air bubbles which cause the deceptive appearance of a change of volume.
Professor Albini claims to have reproduced all the phenomena with a compound made of powdered chocolate and the serum of milk. On the other hand, those who have studied closely the process of liquefaction of the contents of the phial declare that such an explanation is absolutely impossible. Moreover, there seem to bewell-attested instances of liquefaction taking place both in the case of this and other similar relics of blood, when the reliquary has been standing by itself without any movement whatsoever.
Accordingly, the suggestion has also been made (see Di Pace, "Ipotesi scientifica sulla Liquefazione", etc., Naples, 1905) that the phenomenon is due to some form of psychic force. The concentration of thought and will of the expectant crowd and specially of the "aunts of St. Januarius" are held to be capable of producing a physical effect. Against this, however, must be set the fact that the liquefaction has sometimes taken place quite unexpectedly and in the presence of very few spectators.
Probably the most serious difficulty against the miraculous character of the phenomenon is derived from the circumstance that the same liquefaction takes place in the case of other relics, nearly all preserved in the neighbourhood of Naples, or of Neapolitan origin. These include relics which are affirmed to be the blood of St. John the Baptist, of St. Stephen the first martyr, of St. Pantaleone, of St. Patricia, of St. Nicholas of Tolentino, of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, and others. In the case of the alleged liquefaction of the so-called "Milk of Our Lady" (see Putignani, S.J., "De Redivivi Sanguine S. Januarii", Naples, 1723, I, 90) or of the fat of St. Thomas Aquinas (see Magnoni Valenti, "Discorso istorico" 1772, 47) we have probably a pure fiction, but the phials traditionally associated with the names of St. John the Baptist, St. Stephen, and St. Pantaleone undoubtedly still exhibit on the respective feast days of these saints phenomena exactly analogous to those shown in the case of the more famous relic of St. Januarius. Further, it is asserted by eyewitnesses of scientific credit and high respectability that a block of basalt at Pozzuoli, reputed to bear traces of the blood of St. Januarius, grows vividly red for a short time in May and September at the hour when the miracle of the liquefaction takes place in Naples (se Cavène, "Célèbre Miracle de S. Janvier", 1909, 277-300).
Three other points attested by recent investigators seem worthy of special note.
* It now appears that the first certain record of the liquefaction of the blood of St. Januarius dates from 1389 (see de Blasiis, "Chronicon Siculum incerti auctoris", Naples, 1887, 85), and not from 1456, as formerly supposed.* In 1902 Professor Sperindeo was allowed to pass a ray of light through the upper part of the phial during liquefaction and examine this beam spectroscopically. The experiment yielded the distinctive lines of the spectrum of blood. This, however, only proves that there are at any rate traces of blood in the contents of the phial (see Cavène, "Le Célèbre Miracle", 262-275).* Most remarkable of all, the apparent variation in the volume of the relic led in 1902 and 1904 to a series of experiments in the course of which the whole reliquary was weighed in a very accurate balance. It was found that the weight was not constant any more than the volume, and that the weight of the reliquary when the blood filled the whole cavity of the phial exceeded, by 26 grammes, the weight when the phial seemed but half full. This very large difference renders it impossible tobelieve that such a substantial variation in weight can be merely due to an error of observation.
We are forced to accept the fact that, contrary to all known laws a change goes on in the contents of this hermetically sealed vessel which makes them heavier and lighter in a ratio roughly, but not exactly, proportional to their apparent bulk (Cavène, 333-39). The reality of the miracle of St. Januarius has repeatedly been made the subject of controversy. It has had much to do with many conversions to Catholicism, notably with that of the elder Herder. Unfortunately, however, allegations have often been made as to the favourable verdict expressed by scientific men of note, which are not always verifiable. The supposed testimony of the great chemist, Sir Humphry Davy, who is declared to have expressed his belief in the genuineness of the miracle, seems to be a case in point.
|Luke 8: 16 - 18|
|16||"No one after lighting a lamp covers it with a vessel, or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a stand, that those who enter may see the light.|
|17||For nothing is hid that shall not be made manifest, nor anything secret that shall not be known and come to light.|
|18||Take heed then how you hear; for to him who has will more be given, and from him who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away."|