Each week I write an eclectic column of precisely 400 words called “Omnium Gatherum“ for the UK’s best Catholic weekly The Catholic Herald. This column, which follow my four year series on translations, is now in its second year.
For this last week’s (22 Jan) number I wrote:
In the classical, traditional Roman liturgical calendar, this week brings us on 22 January to the Feast of Sts Vincent of Saragosa and Anastasius the Persian. Vincent was a Deacon and the Proto-Martyr of Spain, killed around 304 when Diocletian was Emperor. St Augustine (d 430) preached about Vincent that he suffered torments beyond what any human could endure without the help of God. The more he suffered, the greater seemed his joy. Anastasius, a convert from Zoroastrianism, was tortured to abandon his faith in Christ by strangulation and decapitation in 628. These were gutsy men, who bore witness to the Faith in times of persecution.
Speaking of guts, when in Rome visit their church, Santi Vincenzo ed Anastasio, which faces the famous Trevi Fountain. This was once the parish church for the Quirinal Palace, which was the summer residence of Popes from 1583 until 1870. It has a beautiful baroque façade which sports the coat-of-arms of its builder and patron, the successor of Cardinal Richelieu as the French King’s chief minister, Jules Card. Mazarin (d 1661), a major character in Twenty Years After, the sequel to Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers. In this church are deposited the praecordia, the viscera, of 22 popes. Beginning with Pope Sixtus V (d 1590), when the pontiffs died their guts were extracted, jarred, preserved. Leo XIII (d 1903) is the last Pope whose innards grace the place. His body is now venerated at the Basilica of St John Lateran.
Leo XIII, famous for his 1891 encyclical on social issues Rerum novarum, was the first pope born in the 19th century and the first pope to die in the 20th. He advanced Thomistic theology, Mariology, and consecrated the world to the Sacred Heart. Leo gave us the tradition of the commonly called “Leonine Prayers” or “Prayers after Mass”. We should have the guts to revive these prayers after Masses, and say often:
O God, our refuge and our strength, look down with favor upon Thy people who cry to Thee; and by the intercession of the glorious and immaculate Virgin Mary, Mother of God, of Saint Joseph her spouse, of the blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and of all the saints, in mercy and kindness hear our prayers which we pour forth for the conversion of sinners, and for the liberty and exaltation of Holy Mother Church. Through the same Christ Our Lord. Amen.