The veneration of relics is an age-old tradition in the Church, and no, we do not worship them as some people might think. It is a tradition going back to the early days of the Church to venerate them as reminders of the holiness of these great Christians. As the originator of World Youth Day, John Paul II obviously had a great connection to this event. A vial of his blood was sent to World Youth Day in Madrid in 2011 and has again been sent to World Youth Day in Rio to be venerated by the faithful.
This vial arrived in Rio in early July and will remain in Rio for several weeks after World Youth Day officially ends on July 28th so that visitors and locals alike will have the opportunity venerate his relic.
Among other relics at WYD in Rio are the body of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, St. Thérèse of Lisieux, Blessed Chiara Luce Badano, Blessed Frédéric Ozanam and St. Antônio Galvão de Santana, the first Brazilian-born Saint.
According to Vatican sources, Pope Francis will celebrate Mass at the Church of the Gesu (home Church of the Jesuits) in Rome on July 31. This is the feast day of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuit Order. Pope Francis will celebrate the closing Mass of World Youth day in Brazil on Sunday July 28th and is due back from World Youth Day on Monday, July 29. We do not have the details of the Mass yet (the time or whether it is open to the public) but will try to find out in the next few days.
If you are in Rome, whether this July 30th or any other time, we encourage you to visit the Gesu Church. In addition to its architectural beauty (the “domed” ceiling is not actually a dome, but is painted to look like one) you can also visit the rooms next door where Saint Ignatius lived out the last 17 years of his life.
In a time when young people are under attack from so many secular sources, Blessed Pier Giorgio is truly a man for our times. He showed that a Christian can be fun-loving and devout at the same time. Born to a wealthy family, he loved to ski, smoked cigars and clown around just as most young people. His sense of humor was well-known and he loved to pray practical jokes. At the same time he let all his actions be guided by his Catholic faith.
But he was best known for his efforts at social justice and service to the poor that he exhibited throughout his short life—he died July 4, 1925 at the age of 24 from Polio. In 1981 his body was exhumed and found to be incorrupt. In 1989 Pope John Paul II traveled to visit his tomb at the family plot in Pollone, Italy before it was moved to the Cathedral in Turin. And it was Pope John Paul II who Beatified him in 1990.
Pope John Paul II is the one who organized the first World Youth Day back in 1985. The first one was a relatively small event held in Rome, but it has now grown to be an international sensation for young Catholics from countries all over the globe. So it is very fitting that the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano reported that the relics of John Paul II reached the Brazilian capital on Sunday July 7th. They will be on display at various locations throughout World Youth Day Pope John Paul II made four visits to Rio during his Pontificate, the last being in 1997 for the World Meeting of Families.
In addition to the World Youth Day there is an art display from July 9th through October 13th entitled “In the Footsteps of Christ”, with masterpieces from Italy and the Vatican at the National Museum of Fine Arts in Rio. It primarily contains works by the most famous artists, painters and sculptors, ranging from the year 1400 to 1800, most of which have never been seen in Latin America.
For many, the only Pope they knew for many years was Pope John Paul II. Having served as our Holy Father from 1978 until 2005, he was one of the longest reigning Popes in history. Remembering his frail state of health at the end of his earthly life it is easy to forget how young and dynamic he was back when he first became Pope. A man who like to hike, ski and even clown around a bit, he was a bit of a change from Popes of the past.
Certainly his role on the world stage was unique: helping to bring down the fall of Communism in his native Poland and traveling to over 124 countries set him apart from is predecessors.
With such a popular Pope it became obvious that there would be pressure to elevate him to Sainthood as early as possible. One obstacle was removed by Pope Benedict XVI, that of the five year waiting period before the process could begin.
Certainly he elevated many to Sainthood himself. Here is a photo we took in 2005 when he Canonized Saint Juan Diego in Mexico City. Although his health had obviously begun to fail he still traveled half-way across the world for this event.
The pathway to Sainthood is obviously well under way, and that means lots of speculation as to when it will take place. Many people are hoping for October, while others say it just can’t be before December since that takes too much time to prepare for such an event and still others say it won’t be until next year. We know Pope Francis is a man of unexpected surprises, so I would not bet on any of these dates. He does what he wants, when he wants, and that will be the case here as well.
During the months of July and August the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. will be offering their Summer Organ Recital Series. Performances are Sundays, July through August, at 6:00 p.m. in the Crypt Church. Admission is free although there is a goodwill offering taken. Here are the details of each performance at the Basilica and those who are performing.
July 7 Michael Lodico St. John’s Church, Lafayette Square
July 14 Peter Latona Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
July 21 Timothy Duhr Holy Trinity Parish, Georgetown
July 28 Benjamin Straley Washington National Cathedral
August 4 Russell Weismann Basilica of the Nat’l Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
August 11 Josh Stattford Saint Paul Parish, K Street & Saint John the Beloved, McLean
August 18 Adam Detzner Stanford University
August 25 Benjamin LaPrairie Basilica of the Nat’l Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
Obviously we don’t encourage anyone to travel there right now, but it will be interesting to look back some day and ponder the significance of her appearance in this predominantly Muslim nation, with an ancient Coptic Christian minority..
We announced previously that there would be no Wednesday Public Public audiences in July but that is now extended through the month of August. Nevertheless, Pope Francis will be busy.
On Monday July 8th he will travel to the island of Lampedusa off the coast of Sicily. It is to this island that many refugees from north Africa (only about 90 miles away) flee and often die in the attempt. Those who do survive the trip then are held in temporary quarters which are filled beyond capacity and this naturally places a strain on local facilities. Recently some 10 immigrants drowned trying to reach the island. On this trip Pope Francis will be dropping a ceremonial wreath in the waters off the coast in memory of all who lost their lives on this perilous journey through the years.
Plans were previously announced for him to travel to Castel Gandolfo on Sunday, July 14th to lead the Angelus. Normally the public attends the Angelus when the Pope says it, either in Rome or Castel Gandolfo. However, we are trying to confirm that this is still on his schedule. Also, we’ve heard that Pope Francis will be in Castel Gondolfo, as previous popes have, for the Feast of the Assumption (August 15), but are still trying to verify that. If you have any information please let us know.
He will travel to World Youth Day in Rio from July 21st through July 30th.
So if you had planned to see Pope Francis in Rome this summer we think you will probably be disappointed. We don’t expect the weekly Papal audiences to begin before September.
This is one of the Church’s most popular feast days, especially in Rome. The feast is on June 29th and will be celebrated with fireworks at Castel Sant Angelo beginning at 9:30 p.m. The feast is also celebrated with the ancient tradition of floral designs laid out in the Piazza Pio XII in front of Saint Peter’s Basilica made of salt crystals and colored sawdust. The two displays will depict the Sistine Chapel and the other one will show Saints Peter and Paul. A third picture, made up entirely of flowers, will be to honor the Pope and Saint Francis of Assisi.
Be part of this exciting event! A new film is set to be released this fall outlining the life of Brother Joseph Zoetti, a humble servant of the Lord and his creation of over 125 life-like models of various shrines and holy sites throughout the world. This is nothing short of miraculous considering that some of the materials used came from a train derailment that “just happened” to be nearby and provided him with a source of crushed marble. And he did all this in his spare time during a tumultuous era in the deep South of the U.S. which had a tiny Catholic population.
The documentary entitled “Brother Joseph and the Grotto” tells his story from the time his mother died, he emigrated to the U.S., served in many humble ways and created on the country’s most unique attractions. It includes voluminous archival materials, key interviews, stylized re-enactments and storybook illustrations.
A truly uplifting movie for our times, it is a powerful testament to this humble little hunchback who did so much with so little up until the time of his death in 1961.
The film makers are looking for supporters to help make its release an even greater success by contributing in small or large amounts. Funds will help pay for rare archival footage (like the only known motion-picture footage of Brother Joseph, captured in a Paramount Pictures newsreel and unseen for 70 years) and post-production services (like color grading) to deliver as polished a final product as possible. Their goals are modest, only $10,000, of which almost one third has already been raised. By contributing you can become a part of the New Evangelization and possibly even get your name mentioned in the film credits!
We encourage you to visit the following link to find out about their efforts and to help in any way possible.