Daily Rome Shot 422, etc., and an homage to a great priest

I learned that my friend, the amazing Luigi Card. De Magistris died recently, days short of his 96th birthday.  He was a legend.

My office window in the Palazzo del Sant’Uffizio was open to the interior courtyard of the building.  The window was covered with a lattice of massive iron bars, rather like a jail cell or a zoo.  Thus it was that I first became acquainted with De Magistris, who had an apartment in the Palazzo.  He was also a member of the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei”.  He regularly walked past my window.  Eventually he would stop and chat the through bars, relating amazing anecdotes or pieces of advice.  Having gotten to know each other that way, we occasionally had some longish walks… he was a great walker.   He had stories that amazed, from the time of the preparatory period before Vatican II and the Curia.

Eventually he was made Regente and then pro Major Penitentiary and consecrated bishop. He should have been made Cardinal at that time, but I think everyone knew that he knew where all the skeletons were.    He took a few stands that were not popular and was known to be quite traditional, which was not… fashionable.  I think he was treated quite badly by JP2.

In any event, De Magistris could be spotted all over Rome, having a brisk walk, always in cassock and usually with his Roman clerical flat hat.  If stopped for a greeting, he would stand with his hat held in both hands before his chest and, on parting, would cover and then tip it in your direction.  Coming to and from the sacristy in St. Peter’s for morning Masses he was precise in his clerical etiquette and would use the customary greetings in Latin, standing aside for vested priests, etc.

De Magistris was one of the many amazing figures I was privileged to know during my many years in Rome.

Even though the formation and ethos that shaped them has nearly vanished, I hope we shall see their like again.  Lore and the clerical culture needs to be passed along to new generations, ne pereant.

Today’s daily Fervorino.  HERE



I did pretty well today!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Kathleen10 says:

    God, please be merciful to him. What a dear man, and priest, you describe, Fr. Z.
    The world that created great men like him is gone and we suffer for it. We were lucky to have them at all, and we can benefit from it if we learned from them.

  2. CasaSanBruno says:

    Requiescat in pace.

    I remember him well and had that experience of his impeccable clerical manners. One time I mentioned to him something wacky a certain German bishop had told me – in a corrective manner (I had mentioned to him the title of a chapter of youth formation class called “The Value of a Soul” – he went through the roof and was so disgusted that I would use such archaic terminology). Msgr De Magistris began citing all sorts of documents from memory to counter the German. he then said he’d get me something on the subject. I continued with my errands in the city and by the time I got to my residence the marked up document he had referred to was awaiting me, slipped under my door.

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