Merry del Val revisited; sundry digressions on Ratzinger and Horace and The Cardinal

Once upon a time the Secretary of State was not at the top of the heap in the Vatican Curia.

Then came Pope Paul VI.

To gain some historical perspective be sure to check the piece about Card. Merry del Val on Sandro Magister’s site.

Quite interesting. 

Did you know that Card. Merry del Val wrote music? It isn’t very good music, but he wrote music.

I spoke about it in a PODCAzT quite a long time ago.

PODCAzT 38: Ratzinger on “active participation”; The Sabine Farm; Merry del Val’s music

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. gloriainexcelsis says:

    Some Secretaries of State are better than others. Some do not serve the Pope well, for whatever reason, intended or not intended. Cardinal Merry del Val was an exceptional man in all ways. I hadn’t known his whole history and influence until I read the Magister article. Here I go with the 1962 Missal again; but Cardinal del Val’s Prayer for Humility is in there. I say that every day so as not to get too full of myself. It’s a great prayer.

  2. LawrenceK says:

    Many liberals consider Merry del Val to be the epitome of badness in the twentieth-century Church. But even prescinding from his theology, his temperament, his sanctity, and his politics, I always find it funny when people try to make him sound scary… because I could never be afraid of someone who shares a name with such a round and beloved Hobbit.

  3. Thomas S says:

    Amusing anecdote from the 1914 conclave concerning Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val copy/pasted from wikipedia (after typing my own version and then stupidly X-ing out the window instead of minimizing):

    Reportedly (Giacomo) Della Chiesa had been elected by one vote. According to the rules in force at the time, the ballot papers had a numbering on the reverse side, so that, if the election was decided by only one vote, it could be checked whether or not the elected person had voted for himself, in which case the election would be void. According to that account, Cardinal Rafael Merry del Val, who had been Pius X’s Secretary of State, insisted that the ballots be checked to ensure that Della Chiesa had not voted for himself – he had not. When the cardinals offered their homage to the new pope, Benedict XV allegedly said to Merry del Val, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.” To which the unabashed Merry del Val replied with the next verse of Psalm 118: “This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.” [1]

    Cardinal Merry del Val wasn’t reappointed as Secretary of State by the new Pope, but was named Secretary of the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office (then the head of that Dicastery, because the Popes themselves retained the office of Prefect of the Holy Office, leaving its daily administration to the secretary).

  4. Agnes of Prague says:

    I love Cardinal Merry del Val. Sort of like LawrenceK, the first thing I loved about him was his name, which I read next to the “Litany of Humility” in the Scepter Press Handbook of Prayers. (You know, I found an Italian version that has a lot more petitions than their English one. I don’t know what is the authoritative version, though.) But it was more just because it sounds like a good person. Then I read a biography of him and loved him more. Then I saw his tomb that says just “DA MIHI ANIMAS CETERA TOLLE” and loved him more… I read somewhere about an Italian word that means a joke that is true. As an example they said that it is widely known (among Vaticanistas or something I guess) that Cardinal Merry del Val can never be made a saint because if he were, there would be no one to blame for all of Pius X’s mistakes. Hmm. Well, I for one think he should be a saint.

    I finally figured out how to download a Podcast… I think… so I will listen to this tomorrow.

  5. Supertradmom says:

    Cardinal del Val’s Litany of Humility is one of my favorite prayers.

  6. ljc says:

    I’m curious, who was at the top of the Curia before Paul VI made it the Secretary of State? Was it the head of the Holy Office? Sando Magister doesn’t mention it.

  7. amsjj1002 says:

    Thank you, Father. Especially interesting to me was the portions of the liturgy, and the memory of the Pope’s funeral. I remember that last view of the coffin, as if he were giving us his final blessing. I was crying so hard, but I still remember the loud shout of the crowd. I didn’t want to let him go.

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