Friday, March 16, 2012


St. Patrick
Feast: March 17

Feast Day:March 17
between 387 and 390 at Scotland
Died:between 461 and 464 at Saul, County Down, Ireland
Patron of:Ireland, Nigeria, Montserrat, New York, Boston, Engineers, against snakes
The field of St. Patrick's labors was the most remote part of the then known world. The seed he planted in faraway Ireland, which before his time was largely pagan, bore a rich harvest: whole colonies of saints and missionaries were to rise up after him to serve the Irish Church and to carry Christianity to other lands. Whether his birthplace, a village called Bannavem Taberniae, was near Dunbarton-on-the-Clyde, or in Cumberland, or at the mouth of the Severn, or even in Gaul near Boulogne, has never been determined, and indeed the matter is of no great moment. We know of a certainty that Patrick was of Romano-British origin, and born about the year 389. His father, Calpurnius, was a deacon, his grandfather a priest, for at this time no strict law of celibacy had been imposed on the Christian clergy. Patrick's own full name was probably Patricius Magonus Sucatus.
His brief <Confession> gives us a few details of his early years. At the age of fifteen he committed some fault—what it was we are not told—which caused him much suffering for the rest of his life. At sixteen, he tells us, he still "knew not the true God." Since he was born into a Christian family, we may take this to mean that he gave little heed to religion or to the priests. That same year Patrick and some others were seized and carried off by sea raiders to become slaves among the inhabitants of Ireland. Formerly it was believed that his six years of captivity were spent near Ballymena in County Antrim, on the slopes of the mountain now called Slemish, but later opinion names Fochlad, or Focluth, on the coast of Mayo. If the latter view is correct, then Croachan Aigli or Croag Patrick, the scene of his prolonged fast, was also the mountain on which in his youth he lived alone with God, tending his master's herds of swine or cattle. Wherever it was, he tells us him self that "constantly I used to pray in the daytime. Love of God and His fear increased more and more, and my faith grew and my spirit was stirred up, so that in a single day I said as many as a hundred prayers and at night nearly as many, and I used to stay out in the woods and on the mountain. Before the dawn I used to wake up to prayer, in snow and frost and rain, nor was there any such lukewarmness in me as now I feel, because then my spirit was fervent within."
At length he heard a voice in his sleep bidding him to get back to freedom and the land of his birth. Thus prompted, he ran away from his master and traveled to a harbor where a ship was about to depart. The captain at first refused his request for passage, but after Patrick had silently prayed to God, the pagan sailors called him back, and with them he made an adventurous journey. They were three days at sea, and when they reached land they traveled for a month through an uninhabited tract of country, where food was scarce. Patrick writes:
"And one day the shipmaster said to me: 'How is this, O Christian? Thou sayest that thy God is great and almighty; wherefore then canst thou not pray for us, for we are in danger of starvation? Likely we shall never see a human being again.' Then I said plainly to them: 'Turn in good faith and with all your heart to the Lord my God, to whom nothing is impossible, that this day He may send you food for your journey, until ye be satisfied, for He has abundance everywhere.' And, by the help of God, so it came to pass. Lo, a herd of swine appeared in the way before our eyes, and they killed many of them. And in that place they remained two nights; and they were well refreshed and their dogs were sated, for many of them had fainted and been left half- dead by the way. After this they rendered hearty thanks to God, and I became honorable in their eyes; and from that day they had food in abundance."
At length they arrived at human habitations, whether in Britain or Gaul we do not know. When Patrick was again restored to his kinfolk, they gave him a warm welcome and urged him to stay. But he felt he must leave them. Although there is no certainty as to the order of events which followed, it seems likely that Patrick now spent many years in Gaul. Professor Bury, author of the well-known <Life of St. Patrick>, thinks that the saint stayed for three years at the monastery of Lerins, on a small islet off the coast of modern Cannes, France, and that about fifteen years were passed at the monastery of Auxerre, where he was ordained. Patrick's later prestige and authority indicate that he was prepared for his task with great thoroughness.
We now come to Patrick's apostolate. At this time Pelagianism[1] was spreading among the weak and scattered Christian communities of Britain and Ireland, and Pope Celestine I had sent Bishop Palladius there to combat it. This missionary was killed among the Scots in North Britain, and Bishop Germanus of Auxerre recommended the appointment of Patrick to replace him. Patrick was consecrated in 432, and departed forthwith for Ireland. When we try to trace the course of his labors in the land of his former captivity, we are confused by the contradictory accounts of his biographers; all are marked by a great deal of vagueness as to geography and chronology. According to tradition, he landed at Inverdea, at the mouth of the river Vautry, and immediately proceeded northwards. One chronicler relates that when he was again in the vicinity of the place where he had been a herdboy, the master who had held him captive, on hearing of Patrick's return, set fire to his house and perished in the flames. There is historical basis for the tradition of Patrick's preliminary stay in Ulster, and his founding of a monastic center there. It was at this time that he set out to gain the support and favor of the powerful pagan King Laeghaire, who was holding court at Tara. The stories of Patrick's encounter with the king's Druid priests are probably an accretion of later years; we are told of trials of skill and strength in which the saint gained a great victory over his pagan opponents. The outcome was royal toleration for his preaching. The text of the Senchus More, the old Irish code of laws, though in its existing form it is of later date, mentions an understanding reached at Tara. Patrick was allowed to preach to the gathering, "and when they saw Laeghaire with his Druids overcome by the great signs and miracles wrought in the presence of the men of Erin, they bowed down in obedience to God and Patrick."
King Laeghaire seems not to have become a Christian, but his chief bard and his two daughters were converted, as was a brother, who, we are told, gave his estate to Patrick for the founding of a church. From this time on, Patrick's apostolate, though carried on amid hardships and often at great risk, was favored by many powerful chieftains. The Druids, by and large, opposed him, for they felt their own power and position threatened. They combined many functions; they were prophets, philosophers, and priests; they served as councilors of kings, as judges, and teachers; they knew the courses of the stars and the properties of plants. Now they began to realize that the religion they represented was doomed. Even before the Christian missionaries came in strength, a curious prophecy was current among them. It was written in one of their ancient texts: "Adze-head (a name that the shape of the monk's tonsure might suggest) will come, with his crook-headed staff and his house (the word chasuble means also a little house) holed for his head. He will chant impiety from the table in the east of his house. All his household shall answer: Amen, Amen. When, therefore, all these things come to pass, our kingdom, which is a heathen one, will not stand." As a matter of fact, the Druids continued to exist in Christian Ireland, though with a change of name and a limited scope of activity. They subjected Patrick to imprisonment many times, but he always managed to escape.
In 439 three bishops, Secundinus, Auxilius, and Iserninus, were sent from Gaul to assist Patrick. Benignus, an Irish chieftain who was converted by Patrick, became his favorite disciple, his coadjutor in the see of Armagh, and, finally, his successor. One of Patrick's legendary victories was his overthrow of the idol of Crom Cruach in Leitrim, where he forthwith built a church. He traveled again in Ulster, to preach and found monasteries, then in Leinster and Munster. These missionary caravans must have impressed the people, for they gave the appearance of an entire village in motion. The long line of chariots and carts drawn by oxen conveyed the appurtenances of Christian worship, as well as foodstuffs, equipment, tools, and weapons required by the band of helpers who accompanied the leader. There would be the priestly assistants, singers and musicians, the drivers, hunters, wood-cutters, carpenters, masons, cooks, horsemen, weavers and embroiderers, and many more. When the caravan stopped at a chosen site, the people gathered, converts were won, and before many months a chapel or church and its outlying structures would be built and furnished. Thus were created new outposts in the struggle against paganism. The journeys were often dangerous. Once, Odrhan, Patrick's charioteer, as if forewarned, asked leave to take the chief seat in the chariot himself, while Patrick held the reins; they had proceeded but a short way in this fashion when the loyal Odrhan was killed by a spear thrust meant for his master.
About the year 442, tradition tells us, Patrick went to Rome and met Pope Leo the Great, who, it seemed, took special interest in the Irish Church. The time had now come for a definite organization According to the annals of Ulster, the cathedral church of Armagh was founded as the primatial see of Ireland on Patrick's return. He brought back with him valuable relics. Latin was established as the language of the Irish Church. There is mention of a synod held by Patrick, probably at Armagh. The rules then adopted are still preserved, with, possibly, some later interpolations. It is believed that this synod was called near the close of Patrick's labors on earth. He was now undoubtedly in more or less broken health; such austerities and constant journeyings as his must have weakened the hardiest constitution. The story of his forty-day fast on Croagh Patrick and the privileges he won from God by his prayers is also associated with the end of his life. Tirechan tells it thus: "Patrick went forth to the summit of Mount Agli, and remained there for forty days and forty nights, and the birds were a trouble to him, and he could not see the face of the heavens, the earth, or the sea, on account of them; for God told all the saints of Erin, past, present, and future, to come to the mountain summit-that mountain which overlooks all others, and is higher than all the mountains of the West-to bless the tribes of Erin, so that Patrick might see the fruit of his labors, for all the choir of the saints came to visit him there, who was the father of them all."
In all the ancient biographies of this saint the marvelous is continuously present. Fortunately, we have three of Patrick's own writings, which help us to see the man himself. His <Confession> is a brief autobiographical sketch; the <Lorica>, also known as <The Song of the Deer>, is a strange chant which we have reproduced in the following pages. < The Letter to Coroticus> is a denunciation of the British king of that name who had raided the Irish coast and killed a number of Christian converts as they were being baptized; Patrick urged the Christian subjects of this king to have no more dealings with him until he had made reparation for the outrage. In his writings Patrick shows his ardent human feelings and his intense love of God. What was most human in the saint, and at the same time most divine, comes out in this passage from his <Confession>:
"It was not any grace in me, but God who conquereth in me, and He resisted them all, so that I came to the heathen of Ireland to preach the Gospel and to bear insults from unbelievers, to hear the reproach of my going abroad and to endure many persecutions even unto bonds, the while that I was surrendering my liberty as a man of free condition for the profit of others. And if I should be found worthy, I am ready to give even my life for His name's sake unfalteringly and gladly, and there (in Ireland) I desire to spend it until I die, if our Lord should grant it to me."
Patrick's marvelous harvest filled him with gratitude. During an apostolate of thirty years he is reported to have consecrated some 350 bishops, and was instrumental in bringing the faith to many thousands. He writes, "Wherefore those in Ireland who never had the knowledge of God, but until now only worshiped idols and abominations, from them has been lately prepared a people of the Lord, and they are called children of God. Sons and daughters of Scottish chieftains are seen becoming monks and virgins of Christ." Yet hostility and violence still existed, for he writes later, "Daily I expect either a violent death, or robbery and a return to slavery, or some other calamity." He adds, like the good Christian he was, "I have cast myself into the hands of Almighty God, for He rules everything."
Patrick died about 461, and was buried near the fortress of Saul, in the vicinity of the future cathedral town of Down. He was intensely spiritual, a magnetic personality with great gifts for action and organization. He brought Ireland into much closer contact with Europe, especially with the Holy See. The building up of the weak Christian communities which he found on arrival and planting the faith in new regions give him his place as the patron of Ireland. His feast day is one of festivity, and widely observed. Patrick's emblems are a serpent, demons, cross, shamrock, harp, and baptismal font. The story of his driving snakes from Ireland has no factual foundation, and the tale of the shamrock, as a symbol used to explain the Trinity, is an accretion of much later date.



Vatican City, 16 March 2012 (VIS) - Given below is the text of a communique relating to the Society of St. Pius X, released this morning by the Holy See Press Office.
"During the meeting of 14 September 2011 between Cardinal William Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and president of the Pontifical Commission 'Ecclesia Dei', and Bishop Bernard Fellay, superior general of the Society of St. Pius X, the latter was presented with a Doctrinal Preamble, accompanied by a Preliminary Note, as a fundamental basis for achieving full reconciliation with the Apostolic See. This defined certain doctrinal principles and criteria for the interpretation Catholic doctrine, which are necessary to ensure faithfulness to the Church Magisterium and 'sentire cum Ecclesia'.
"The response of the Society of St. Pius X to the aforesaid Doctrinal Preamble, which arrived in January 2012, was examined by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith before being submitted to the Holy Father for his judgement. Pursuant to the decision made by Pope Benedict XVI, Bishop Fellay was, in a letter delivered today, informed of the evaluation of his response. The letter states that the position he expressed is not sufficient to overcome the doctrinal problems which lie at the foundation of the rift between the Holy See and the Society of St. Pius X.
"At the end of today's meeting, moved by concern to avoid an ecclesial rupture of painful and incalculable consequences, the superior general of the Society of St. Pius X was invited to clarify his position in order to be able to heal the existing rift, as is the desire of Pope Benedict XVI".

Vatican City, 16 March 2012 (VIS) - The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has opened a new domain ( within the official website of the Holy See. In this way, the congregation hopes to facilitate the consultation of its documents which, having the express approbation of the Holy Father, participate in his ordinary Magisterium as the Peter's Successor. Attentive reception of these texts is important for all members of the faithful and in particular for those who are engaged in theological and pastoral work.
The major documents are available in eight languages: Latin, French, English, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, German and Polish. Certain documents are also available in Hungarian, Slovak, Czech, and Dutch. There is a general list of all the texts organised chronologically, and three subgroups of these texts, divided into doctrinal, disciplinary and sacramental documents.
The new domain also presents information on the Congregation's series "Documenti e Studi", which are individual printed volumes presenting a major document of the Congregation together with commentaries by noted theologians. There is also a description of the volumes containing the proceedings of various symposia organised by the Congregation in recent years, as well as speeches and other contributions by cardinal prefects.
A communique by the congregation published this morning explains how "wider distribution of the teaching of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is necessary in today's world. The documents of the congregation which have been published since the time of Vatican Council II ... deal with significant questions for the life and mission of the Church and give important doctrinal responses to the challenges of our times. ... The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is convinced that the enhanced availability of these documents will be of significant value in communicating the teaching of the Church to people throughout the world".
The old domain address of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith remains active within the official website of the Holy See.

Vatican City, 16 March 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience:
- Cardinal Ennio Antonelli, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family.
- His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk, major archbishop of Kyiv-Halyc, Ukraine.
- Thirteen prelates of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, on their "ad limina" visit:
- Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller M.Sp.S. of San Antonio, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Oscar Cantu.
- Bishop Patrick James Zurek of Amarillo.
- Bishop Kevin Joseph Farrell of Dallas, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishops John Douglas Deshotel and Mark Joseph Seitz.
- Bishop Kevin William Vann of Fort Worth.
- Bishop James Anthony Tamayo of Laredo.
- Bishop Placido Rodriguez C.M.F. of Lubbock.
- Bishop Michael David Pfeifer O.M.I. of San Angelo.
- Archbishop Paul Stagg Coakley of Oklahoma City.
- Bishop Anthony Basil Taylor of Little Rock.
- Bishop Edward James Slattery of Tulsa.
- Manuel Tomas Fernandes Pereira, ambassador of Portugal, on his farewell visit.
This evening he is scheduled to receive in audience Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.


Actor George Clooney was arrested for his participation in a protest outside the Sudanese Embassey in Washington, DC. He was leading this protest which asks the President Al-Bashir to end the violence. The group did not obey police oders to remain behind police lines. The group arrested included Nick Clooney (George's father), Martin Luther King III, NAACP President Ben Jealous, some congressmen and others. (Image source: Google/blogs) The news site CNN has quoted Clooney as saying: "The first question is something immediate -- and immediately, we need humanitarian aid to be allowed into the Sudan before it becomes the worst humanitarian crisis in the world."
The second thing, he said, "is for the government in Khartoum to stop randomly killing its own innocent men, women and children. Stop raping them and stop starving them. That's all we ask."
He was charged a $100 fine and released. Clooney recently returned from a trip to Sudan where he witnessed the horrors of the violence going on in that country. He has been trying to get those in Capitol Hill to safe-guard the lives of those enduring violence in the North.


IEC RELEASE: photograph of Pope Benedict XVI is copyright Servizio Fotografico L'Osservatore Romano, 2012
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 Ring for Renewal
On 2nd March, IEC2012 began the last 100 days of preparation for the 50th International Eucharistic Congress 2012, that takes place in Dublin from 10th to 17th June. To mark this moment on the journey, we announced a special event to take place on St Patrick's Day this year.
We are asking people all around Ireland and the world to "Ring for Renewal" on St Patrick's Day. It is an invitation to pause on the journey of life and reflect on how we can renew as people and as members of the Church as we prepare for the 50th International Eucharistic Congress.
The idea is to engage in the path of personal and Church renewal which is the agenda of the Eucharistic Congress and to join the journey in a personal way.
On 14th March, Pope Benedict XVI received the Eucharistic Congress Bell from an IEC2012 delegation in Rome. Pope Benedict XVI blessed the bell, rang it vigorously, and paused to admire the icons as Archbishop Martin explained their significance. He was presented with shamrock by Sheena Darcy and with the first copy of the Congress Commemorative Medal, by Colette Furlong . Read more about the Pope blessing the Eucharistic Congress Bell in advance of St Patrick's Day.

Where will bells ring on St Patrick's Day?

  • We invite the faithful at home to pause and reflect as they ring a bell at any time of the day.
  • We invite cathedrals, churches and schools, to ring their bells for two minutes at 12 noon and 6pm inviting people to renewal - both personal and communal.
  • We invite parishes, churches and chapels to leave a bell at a suitable place in their churches/chapels/cathedrals for people to ring as they go out from Mass or if they are going in to pray during the day.
  • Public figures in Ireland and elsewhere in the world will be invited to ring a bell.
  • We invite people taking part in parades or watching parades around Ireland to ring a bell.
photograph of Pope Benedict XVI is copyright Servizio Fotografico L'Osservatore Romano, 2012Why ring a Bell?
The symbol of the 50th International Eucharistic Congress is a Bell. Like the Olympic torch prepares for the Olympics, the Eucharistic Congress Bell has been going all around Ireland calling people to prepare for the Congress since St Patrick's day in 2011. Having visited all 26 dioceses in Ireland, the Bell travels to Rome for this year's St Patrick's Day, bringing an international aspect to the call to spiritual renewal in the heart of the Catholic Church.
Like St Patrick's Bell, the Congress Bell rings across the land calling God's people together, to hear the good news that God is present among us and calls us to communion. For Christians the bell is associated with the invitation to gather, the sound perceived as God's voice, God's call, which draws people to assemble. In early Christian Ireland, St Patrick's bell heralded the dawn of a new and eternal day for the Irish people - called to hear the good news - Jesus Christ, the Word made Flesh - and in turn become bearers of this news to others, far and near. The image of the bell is still used to convey joy, celebration and the announcement of good news. Combined, the image and sound of the bell symbolise for us God's call to all people to gather to hear good news.
How will the 50th International Eucharistic Congress bring renewal to the Church in Ireland?
  • The 50th International Eucharistic Congress is being seen as a unique opportunity for renewal of the Christian life, it is taking shape as a genuine moment of renewal in the Church. Read the address from Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin on "Reform of the Church in Ireland: Facing the Future with Hope".Read address
  • "Like the new growth in springtime, renewal in the Church will be made up of many elements." Read how Fr. Kevin Doran, Secretary General for the IEC2012, envisages renewal will surface among the daily themes for the 50th International Eucharistic Congress. Read address.
What can you do?
  • If you are a lay person, pause and reflect on personal and Church renewal as you ring a bell at any time of the day.
  • If you are a priest, religious or school teacher, would you be able to ring the bell of the cathedral/church/school/community chapel, etc for two minutes on St Patrick's Day at 12 noon and 6pm? We would like all churches in the country to join in this call to personal and Church renewal.
  • If you would like to organise professional bell ringers in your own church or other ways of ringing bells, please feel free to do so. If you can, let us know so that we can promote this as well.
  • Download a poster. Please print and display in your school or church. Thank you very much for your attention and we hope that you can join us on this event as we prepare for the Congress.
  • Ring the Bell on our Audioboo channel! Audio file

Pope Benedict XVI receives a bowl of Irish shamrock from Sheena Darcy, copyright L'Osservatore Romano, 2012 One hundred days to the Congress
In recognition of the last 100 days to the Congress, we received a message from Archbishop Piero Marini, President of the Pontifical Committee for the International Eucharistic Congresses.

Read Archbishop Marini's message in English and Italian.

Book for the Congress
You can book to attend the Congress for one, three or seven days. There are three ways to book:
1) Book online on the Congress web siteBook Now
2) Book by telephone through IEC2012 booking officesTelephone (01) 298 1122
3) Download a booking form Post form to CSSL
3rd Floor
Paradigm House
Dundrum Office Park
Dublin 14
Advance bookings are open until 9th May 2012. Bookings after 9th May will be onsite at the RDS during the week of the Congress.


ASIANEWS REPORT: by Nirmala Carvalho
All the incidents took place in West Bengal, Delhi and Madhya Pradesh in the last week. In all cases, police arrested the victims, not the attackers. For the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) president, Lent, Advent and Christmas are when minority Christians suffer the most.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - Three anti-Christian attacks were recorded in West Bengal, Delhi and Madhya Pradesh just in the past week, the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) reported. Like Advent and Christmas, Lent is a time when Hindu ultranationalists tend to intensify their harassment and terrorising of minority Christians. For GCIC president Sajan George, the situation shows the "total lack of justice towards Christians who are increasingly vulnerable."

On Wednesday, police in Burnpur (West Bengal) arrested five members of the Brethren Gospel Pentecostal Church after some residents of the village complained about their prayers.

Although police released them, they were forced to re-arrest them when Hindu ultranationalists complained. This time the five Christians were charged with violating various sections of the Indian Penal Code, including those against "causing communal disharmony" and "unlawful assembly".

On Monday, some 30 activists from the Bajrang Dal, a Hindu nationalist group, broke into a private home in a slum in Govindpuri (South Delhi). After dragging out Rev Jagdish, a Pentecostal clergyman, they called police and had him arrested. He was released, but only after he signed a pledge not to visit that home again or conduct prayer meetings.

On Sunday, other Bajrang Dal activists stormed a house church in Multai, Betul District (Madhya Pradesh), accusing Rev Motilal Gujare of engaging in forced conversions.

When the local police arrived, they arrested the clergyman and a member of his congregation, Prakash Masih, citing Section 298 of the Penal Code, which bans "Uttering words, etc., with deliberate intent" [. . .] of wounding the religious feelings of any person".

"Hindu radicals enjoy political protection," Dajan George said. "They feel so strong that they fabricate charges to harass the Christian community. In order to satisfy nationalist feelings, police arrest innocent Christians without a fair trial."


Agenzia Fides REPORT - "I do not know what the government is doing, but I know that Boko Haram is a ruthless group that sends people to kill themselves to kill others. I do not know how you deal with them " says to Fides His Exc Mgr. Ignatius Ayau Kaigama, Archbishop of Jos, in northern Nigeria, commenting on the rumors of indirect negotiations between the Nigerian government and the Boko Haram sect. It is thought that the sect is behind the 11 March suicide bombing against the church of St. Finbarr, in Jos (see Fides 12/03/2012).
"What the government should do is identify the sponsors of Boko Haram" said Mgr. Kaigama. "There are powerful elements that provide members of the sect, bombs, cars, money and logistical support. We must know who these people are that have a bad program for Nigeria".
On the possibility that there are foreign sponsors behind Boko Haram, the Archbishop says: "If one looks at the sophistication of the bombs used by Boko Haram, it seems to me that this means that these people have had an excellent training outside Nigeria. But, I repeat, it is the responsibility of our security agencies to find out who are the terrorists, their supporters, where and who trains them, and so on. Until recently there were no suicide bombings and attacks in Nigeria with sophisticated bombs. All of this comes from somewhere. I hope that our government, with the help of the international community, can discover the roots of all this".
Mgr. Kaigama has not lost hope: "At the moment we are in the Governor's house. We intend to express our concern and our solidarity with the victims, as well as reaffirming the Catholic Church's commitment to peace. He can rely on the work of our priests, men and women religious and lay people who work to pacify the souls. Despite the latest violence in Jos, the situation is calm. Nobody wants to be involved in unnecessary violence. Although there is anger at the deaths caused by the attacks and the fighting in recent days, the population has returned to its normal activities", says the Archbishop. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 16/3/2012)


Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese REPORT
16 Mar 2012

Internationally-acclaimed Melbourne-based sculptor, Louis Laumen has created a powerful and moving Crucifix in bronze for the chapel at the Seminary of the Good Shepherd, Homebush.
The Crucifix has now been installed in a niche to the right of the altar and stained glass window of St Peter and St Paul. Slightly smaller than life size, the beauty and power of the Crucifix is immediately apparent and strikes what Laumen describes as "the balance between reality of a terrible event of great suffering and the wonderful aftermath that inspires us all."
"I wanted the crucifix to be terrible but beautiful at the same time," he explains.
This latest work by Laumen was commissioned by the Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell last year as a replacement for the Seminary's slightly larger crucifix, also created by the sculptor, which is now in Rome where it dominates the main altar of the Chapel of St Peter Chanel at Domus Australia.
"The original crucifix was life-size. But when it was finally installed at the Homebush seminary in 2007, the Cardinal and I decided it was a little too large to be harmonious with the space in the small chapel," he says and admits he was delighted when His Eminence decided his sculpture should instead be sent to Rome where it now hangs above the main altar in the beautiful and much larger chapel at Domus Australia, the home away from home for Australian pilgrims in Rome.
The commission to create a second sculpture of Christ on the Cross for the Seminary at Homebush, was as challenging as creating the first.

Louis Laumen's scupture of St Mary of
the Cross and children
outside St Mary's Cathedral
"One of the chief challenges was taking what is a very traditional subject and presenting it in a fresh way," he says. "Another challenge was to depict Christ in the midst of his suffering and somehow show Him both as human and divine."
Turning to the great artworks of the past for inspiration, he studied those from the Gothic and pre Gothic era through to the Renaissance and as far back as the Byzantine and the earliest Christian eras as well as studying the works created several centuries before Christ when crucifixions were a pagan form of punishment.
"Many crucifixes depict Christ as emaciated. I didn't want show Him this way. But equally I didn't want Him to look overly muscled and robust.
Finding an artist friend in his 40s whom Laumen said "had the sort of physique I was looking for," the sculptor then began creating a series of sketches of what the finished sculpture of Christ on the Cross might look like.
Using Byzantine art as one of his main inspirations, he consulted extensively with Cardinal Pell, sending him sketches from Melbourne and later a maquette, the name for small scale model of a sculpture.
"His Eminence very much liked the maquette and from that time on, gave me a free hand," Laumen says and explains the Cardinal, who has a deep knowledge of art in all its forms, is not someone who dictates but gives the artist his complete trust and respect.

Louis Laumen at work on one of his statues
of Mary MacKillop
"Cardinal Pell enables you to give of your very best and gives you the freedom to come up with something from deep inside," Laumen says adding he regards His Eminence as carrying on the long tradition of the Church as a patron of the arts.
With the maquette approved, work in the sculptor's Melbourne studio began in earnest.
With his artist friend agreeing to pose for the sculpture, Laumen constructed a mock-up cross attached to a steel frame. "I asked him to hang from supports on the cross for long as he could stand it. Ten minutes was about the maximum he could take at any one time. But having a human model helped enormously and with his skinny but not emaciated frame along with his straggling beard and longish hair he had all what was needed."
The crucifix was completed and installed in the Seminary chapel late last month.

Golden Girl Betty Cuthbert captured
by Louis Laumen in bronze
"It is very powerful and very beautiful, and I know will inspire our priests and seminarians and everyone else who comes into the chapel to pray," says Fr Anthony Percy, Rector of the Seminary of the Good Shepherd.
Cardinal Pell presided over the Mass at which the crucifix was blessed on Sunday, 4 March.
Now the Seminary is eagerly awaiting another work from Laumen, this time a sculpting of Our Lady Help of Christians which will be installed in the Seminary gardens at Homebush.
But before the acclaimed sculptor can begin work on this, he has several other commissions to complete. These include life size sculptures of a well known footballer and a track and field star, as well as two of St Mary of the Cross MacKillop.
Laumen's wonderfully vibrant statue of Australia's first saint, accompanied by two young children, has become an admired and beloved feature on College Street beside the Western transept of St Mary's Cathedral. Another of Laumen's sculptures of St Mary of the Cross stands outside St Xavier Francis Cathedral in Adelaide.
In addition he has created busts and other sculptures of the founder of the Sisters of St Joseph and is currently working on one for the Melbourne Campus of the Australian Catholic University, and another for St Patrick's Cathedral, Melbourne.

Fr Tony Percy
"When St Patrick's contacted me, the first question was: 'have you got any more Mary MacKillop's in you?'I told them I had at least half a dozen or so left,'" he says laughing. But each one, he insists, must be different from the others.
"It's important to stay fresh as an artist and what excites me is a wide variety of subjects, especially those I've never tackled before."


Mark 12: 28 - 34
28 And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, "Which commandment is the first of all?"
29 Jesus answered, "The first is, `Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one;
30 and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.'
31 The second is this, `You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."
32 And the scribe said to him, "You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that he is one, and there is no other but he;
33 and to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength, and to love one's neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices."
34 And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God." And after that no one dared to ask him any question.


St. Heribert of Cologne
Feast: March 16

Feast Day:March 16
970 at Worms, Germany
Died:16 March 1021 at Cologne, Germany
1075 by Pope Saint Gregory VII
Major Shrine:Deutz
Patron of:rain
Archbishop of Cologne; born at Worms, c. 970; died at Cologne, 16 March, 1021. His father was Duke Hugo of Worms. After receiving his education at the cathedral school of Worms, he spent some time as guest at the monastery of Gorze, after which he became provost at the cathedral of Worms. In 994 he was ordained priest; in the same year King Otto III appointed him chancellor for Italy and four years later also for Germany, a position which he held until the death of Otto III on 23 January, 1002. As chancellor he was the most influential adviser of Otto III, whom he accompanied to Rome in 906 and again in 997. He was still in Italy when, in 999, he was elected Archbishop of Cologne. At Benevento he received ecclesiastical investiture and the pallium from Pope Sylvester II on 9 July, 999, and on the following Christmas Day he was consecrated at Cologne. In 1002 he was present at the death-bed of the youthful emperor at Paterno. While returning to Germany with the emperor's remains and the imperial insignia, he was held captive for some time by the future King Henry II, whose candidacy he first opposed. As soon as Henry II was elected king, on 7 June, 1002, Heribert acknowledged him as such, accompanied him to Rome in 1004, mediated between him and the House of Luxemburg, and served him faithfully in many other ways; but he never won his entire confidence until the year 1021, when the king saw his mistake and humbly begged pardon on the archbishop. Heribert founded and richly endowed the Benedictine monastery and church of Deutz, where he lies buried. He was already honoured as a saint during his lifetime. Between 1073 and 1075 he was canonized by Pope Gregory VII. His feast is celebrated on 16 March.