Thursday, March 7, 2013

TODAY'S SAINT : MARCH 7 : SAINT PERPETUA AND SAINT FELICITY


Sts. Perpetua & Felicity
MARTYRS
Feast: March 7


Information:
Feast Day:March 7
Died:7 March 202 or 203, Carthage, Roman Province of Africa
Patron of:Mothers, Expectant Mothers
From their most valuable genuine acts, quoted by Tertullian, l. de anima, c. 55, and by St. Austin, serm. 280, 283, 294. The first part of these acts, which reaches to the eve of her martyrdom, was written by St. Perpetua. The vision of St. Saturus was added by him. The rest was subjoined by an eye-witness of their death. See Tillemont, t. 3, p. 139. Ceillier, t. 2, p. 213. These acts have been often republished; but are extant, most ample and correct, in Ruinart. They were publicly read in the churches of Africa, as appears from St. Austin, Serm. 180. See them vindicated from the suspicion of Montanism, by Orsi, Vindicae Act. SS. Perpetuae et Felicitatis.
A violent persecution being set on foot by the emperor Severus, in 202, it reached Africa the following year; when, by order of Minutius Timinianus, (or Firminianus,) five catechumens were apprehended at Carthage for the faith: namely, Revocatus, and his fellow-slave Felicitas, Saturninus, and Secundulus, and Vibia Perpetua. Felicitas was seven months gone with child; and Perpetua had an infant at her breast, was of a good family, twenty-two years of age, and married to a person of quality in the city. She had a father, a mother, and two brothers; the third, Dinocrates, died about seven years old. These five martyrs were joined by Saturus, probably brother to Saturninus, and who seems to have been their instructor: he underwent a voluntary imprisonment, because he would not abandon them. The father of St. Perpetua, who was a pagan, and advanced in years, loved her more than all his other children. Her mother was probably a Christian, as was one of her brothers, the other a catechumen. The martyrs were for some days before their commitment kept under a strong guard in a private house: and the account Perpetua gives of their sufferings to the eve of their death, is as follows: "We were in the hands of our persecutors, when my father, out of the affection he bore me, made new efforts to shake my resolution. I said to him: 'Can that vessel, which you see, change its name?' He said: 'No.' I replied: 'Nor can I call myself any other than I am, that is to say, a Christian.' At that word my father in a rage fell upon me, as if he would have pulled my eyes out, and beat me: but went away in confusion, seeing me invincible: after this we enjoyed a little repose, and in that interval received baptism. The Holy Ghost, on our coming out of the water, inspired me to pray for nothing but patience under corporal pains. A few days after this we were put into prison: I was shocked at the horror and darkness of the place, for till then I knew not what such sort of places were. We suffered much that day, chiefly on account of the great heat caused by the crowd, and the ill-treatment we met with from the soldiers. I was moreover tortured with concern, for that I had not my infant. But the deacons, Tertius and Pomponius, who assisted us, obtained, by money, that we might pass some hours in a more commodious part of the prison to refresh ourselves. My infant being brought to me almost famished, I gave it the breast. I recommended him afterwards carefully to my mother, and encouraged my brother, but was much afflicted to see their concern for me. After a few days my sorrow was changed into comfort, and my prison itself seemed agreeable. One day my brother said to me: 'Sister, I am persuaded that you are a peculiar favorite of Heaven: pray to God to reveal to you whether this imprisonment will end in martyrdom or not, and acquaint me of it.' I, knowing God gave me daily tokens of his goodness, answered, full of confidence, 'I will inform you tomorrow.' I therefore asked that favor of God, and had this vision. I saw a golden ladder which reached from earth to the heavens; but so narrow, that only one could mount it at a time. To the two sides were fastened all sorts of iron instruments, as swords, lances, hooks, and knives; so that if any one went up carelessly he was in great danger of having his flesh torn by those weapons. At the foot of the ladder lay a dragon of an enormous size, who kept guard to turn back and terrify those that endeavored to mount it. The first that went up was Saturus, who was not apprehended with us, but voluntarily surrendered himself afterwards on our account: when he was got to the top of the ladder, he turned towards me and said: 'Perpetua, I wait for you; but take care lest the dragon bite you.' I answered: 'In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, he shall not hurt me.' Then the dragon, as if afraid of me, gently lifted his head from under the ladder, and I, having got upon the first step, set my foot upon his head. Thus I mounted to the top, and there I saw a garden of an immense space, and in the middle of it a tall man sitting down dressed like a shepherd, having white hair. He was milking his sheep, surrounded with many thousands of persons clad in white. He called me by my name, bid me welcome, and gave me some curds made of the milk which he had drawn: I put my hands together and took and ate them; and all that were present said aloud, Amen. The noise awaked me, chewing something very sweet. As soon as I had related to my brother this vision, we both concluded that we should suffer death.
"After some days, a rumor being spread that we were to be examined, my father came from the city to the prison overwhelmed with grief: 'Daughter,' said he, 'have pity on my gray hairs, have compassion on your father, if I yet deserve to be called your father; if I myself have brought you up to this age: if you consider that my extreme love of you, made me always prefer you to all your brothers, make me not a reproach to mankind. Have respect for your mother and your aunt; have compassion on your child that cannot survive you; lay aside this resolution, this obstinacy, lest you ruin us all: for not one of us will dare open his lips any more if any misfortune be fall you.' He  took me by the hands at the same time and kissed them; he threw himself at my feet in tears, and called me no longer daughter, but, my lady. I confess, I was pierced with sharp sorrow when I considered that my father was the only person of our family that would not rejoice at my martyrdom. I endeavored to comfort him, saying: 'Father, grieve not; nothing will happen but what pleases God; for we are not at our own disposal.' He then departed very much concerned. The next day, while we were at dinner, a person came all on a sudden to summon us to examination. The report of this was soon spread, and brought together a vast crowd of people into the audience-chamber. We were placed on a sort of scaffold before the judge, who was Hilarian, procurator of the province, the proconsul being lately dead. All who were interrogated before me confessed boldly Jesus Christ. When it came to my turn, my father instantly appeared with my infant. He drew me a little aside, conjuring me in the most tender manner not to be insensible to the misery I should bring on that innocent creature to which I had given life. The president Hilarian joined with my father, and said: 'What! will neither the gray hairs of a father you are going to make miserable, nor the tender innocence of a child, which your death will leave an orphan, move you? Sacrifice for the prosperity of the emperor.' I replied, 'I will not do it.' 'Are you then a Christian?' said Hilarian. I answered: 'Yes, I am.' As my father attempted to draw me from the scaffold, Hilarian commanded him to be beaten off, and he had a blow given him with a stick, which I felt as much as if I had been struck myself; so much was I grieved to see my father thus treated in his old age. Then the judge pronounced our sentence, by which we were all condemned to be exposed to wild beasts. We then joyfully returned to our prison; and as my infant had been used to the breast, I immediately sent Pomponius, the deacon, to demand him of my father, who refused to send him. And God so ordered it that the child no longer required to suck, nor did my milk incommode me." Secundulus, being no more mentioned, seems to have died in prison before this interrogatory. Before Hilarian pronounced sentence, he had caused Saturus, Saturninus, and Revocatus, to be scourged; and Perpetua and Felicitas to be beaten on the face. They were reserved for the shows which were to be exhibited for the soldiers in the camp, on the festival of Geta, who had been made Caesar four years before by his father Severus, when his brother Caracalla was created Augustus. St. Perpetua relates another vision with which she was favored, as follows: "A few days after receiving sentence, when we were all together in prayer, I happened to name Dinocrates, at which I was astonished, because I had not before had him in my thoughts; and I that moment knew that I ought to pray for him. This I began to do with great fervor and sighing before God; and the same night I had the following vision: I saw Dinocrates coming out of a dark place, where there were many others, exceeding hot and thirsty; his face was dirty, his complexion pale, with the ulcer in his face of which he died at seven years of age, and it was for him that I had prayed. There seemed a great distance between him and me, so that it was impossible for us to come to each other. Near him stood a vessel full of water, whose brim was higher than the statue of an infant: he attempted to drink, but though he had water he could not reach it. This mightily grieved me, and I awoke. By this I knew my brother was in pain, but I trusted I could by prayer relieve him: so I began to pray for him, beseeching God with tears, day and night, that he would grant me my request; as I continued to do till we were removed to the damp prison: being destined for a public show on the festival of Caesar Geta. The day we were in the stocks I had this vision: I saw the place, which I had beheld dark before, now luminous; and Dinocrates, with his body very clean and well clad, refreshing himself, and instead of his wound a scar only. I awoke, and I knew he was relieved from his pain.
"Some days after, Pudens, the officer who commanded the guards of the prison, seeing that God favored us with many gifts, had a great esteem of us, and admitted many people to visit us for our mutual comfort. On the day of the public shows my father came to find me out, overwhelmed with sorrow. He tore his beard, he threw himself prostrate on the ground, cursed his years, and said enough to move any creature; and I was ready to die with sorrow to see my father in so deplorable a condition. On the eve of the shows I was favored with the following vision. The deacon Pomponius, methought, knocked very hard at the prison-door, which I opened to him. He was clothed with a white robe, embroidered with innumerable pomegranates of gold. He said to me: 'Perpetua, we wait for you, come along.' He then took me by the hand and led me through very rough places into the middle of the amphitheatre, and said: 'Fear not.' And, leaving me, said again: 'I will be with you in a moment, and bear a part with you in your pains.' I was wondering the beasts were not let out against us, when there appeared a very ill-favored Egyptian, who came to encounter me with others. But another beautiful troop of young men declared for me, and anointed me with oil for the combat. Then appeared a man of prodigious stature, in rich apparel, having a wand in his hand like the masters of the gladiators, and a green bough on which hung golden apples. Having ordered silence, he said that the bough should be my prize, if I vanquished the Egyptian: but that if he conquered me, he should kill me with a sword. After a long and obstinate engagement, I threw him on his face, and trod upon his head. The people applauded my victory with loud acclamations. I then approached the master of the amphitheatre, who gave me the bough with a kiss, and said: 'Peace be with you, my daughter.' After this I awoke, and found that I was not so much to combat with wild beasts as with the devils." Here ends the relation of St. Perpetua.
St. Saturus had also a vision which he wrote himself. He and his companions were conducted by a bright angel into a most delightful garden, in which they met some holy martyrs lately dead, namely, Jocundus, Saturninus, and Artaxius, who had been burned alive for the faith, and Quintus, who died in prison. They inquired after other martyrs of their acquaintance, say the acts, and were conducted into a most stately place, shining like the sun: and in it saw the king of this most glorious place surrounded by his happy subjects, and heard a voice composed of many, which continually cried: "Holy, holy, holy." Saturus, turning to Perpetua, said: "You have here what you desired." She replied: "God be praised, I have more joy here than ever I had in the flesh." He adds, Going out of the garden they found before the gate, on the right hand, their bishop of Carthage, Optatus, and on the left, Aspasius, priest of the same church, both of them alone and sorrowful. They fell at the martyr's feet, and begged they would reconcile them together, for a dissension had happened between them. The martyrs embraced them, saving: "Are not you our bishop, and you a priest of our Lord? It is our duly to prostrate ourselves before you." Perpetua was discoursing with them; but certain angels came and drove hence Optatus and Aspasius; and bade them not to disturb the martyrs, but be reconciled to each other. The bishop Optatus was also charged to heal the divisions that reigned among several of his church. The angels, after these reprimands, seemed ready to shut the gates of the garden. "Here," says he, "we saw many of our brethren and martyrs likewise. We were fed with an ineffable odor, which delighted and satisfied us." Such was the vision of Saturus. The rest of the acts were added by an eye-witness. God had called to himself Secondulus in prison. Felicitas was eight months gone with child, and as the day of the shows approached, she was inconsolable lest she should not be brought to bed before it came; fearing that her martyrdom would be deferred on that account, because women with child were not allowed to be executed before they were delivered: the rest also were sensibly afflicted on their part to leave her alone in the road to their common hope. Wherefore they unanimously joined in prayer to obtain of God that she might be delivered against the shows. Scarce had they finished their prayer, when Felicitas found herself in labor. She cried out under the violence of her pain: one of the guards asked her, if she could not bear the throes of childbirth without crying out, what she would do when exposed to the wild beasts. She answered: "It is I that suffer what I now suffer; but then there will be another in me that will suffer for me, because I shall suffer for him." She was then delivered of a daughter, which a certain Christian woman took care of, and brought up as her own child. The tribune, who had the holy martyrs in custody, being informed by some persons of little credit, that the Christians would free themselves out of prison by some magic enchantments, used them the more cruelly on that account, and forbade any to see them. Thereupon Perpetua said to him: "Why do you not afford us some relief, since we are condemned by Caesar, and destined to combat at his festival? Will it not be to your honor that we appear well fed?" At this the tribune trembled and blushed, and ordered them to be used with more humanity, and their friends to be admitted to see them. Pudens, the keeper of the prison, being already converted, secretly did them all the good offices in his power. The day before they suffered they gave them, according to custom, their last meal, which was called a free supper' and they ate in public. But the martyrs did their utmost to change it into an Agape, or Love-feast. Their chamber was full of people, whom they talked to with their usual resolution, threatening them with the judgments of God, and extolling the happiness of their own sufferings. Saturus smiling at the curiosity of those that came to see them, said to them, "Will not tomorrow suffice to satisfy your inhuman curiosity in our regard? However you may seem now to pity us, tomorrow you will clap your hands at our death, and applaud our murderers. But observe well our faces, that you may know them again at that terrible day when all men shall be judged." They spoke with such courage and intrepidity, as astonished the infidels, and occasioned the conversion of several among them.
The day of their triumph being come, they went out of the prison to go to the amphitheatre. Joy sparkled in their eyes, and appeared in all their gestures and words. Perpetua walked with a composed countenance and easy pace, as a woman cherished by Jesus Christ, with her eyes modestly cast down: Felicitas went with her, following the men, not able to contain her joy. When they came to the gate of the amphitheatre the guards would have given them, according to custom, the superstitious habits with which they adorned such as appeared at these sights. For the men, a red mantle, which was the habit of the priests of Saturn: for the women, a little fillet round the head, by which the priestesses of Ceres were known. The martyrs rejected those idolatrous ceremonies; and, by the mouth of Perpetua, said, they came thither of their own accord on the promise made them that they should not be forced to any thing contrary to their religion. The tribune then consented that they might appear in the amphitheatre habited as they were. Perpetua sung, as being already victorious; Revocatus, Saturninus, and Saturus threatened the people that beheld them with the judgments of God: and as they passed over against the balcony of Hilarian, they said to him; "You judge us in this world, but God will judge you In the next." The people, enraged at their boldness, begged they might be scourged, which was granted. They accordingly passed before the Venatores, or hunters, each of whom gave them a lash. They rejoiced exceedingly in being thought worthy to resemble our Saviour in his sufferings. God granted to each of  them the death they desired; for when they were discoursing together about what kind of martyrdom would be agreeable to each, Saturninus declared that he would choose to be exposed to beasts of several sorts in order to the aggravation of his sufferings. Accordingly he and Revocatus, after having been attacked by a leopard, were also assaulted by a bear. Saturus dreaded nothing so much as a bear, and therefore hoped a leopard would dispatch him at once with his teeth. He was then exposed to a wild boar, hut the beast turned upon his keeper, who received such a wound from him that he died in a few days after, and Saturus was only dragged along by him. Then they tied the martyr to the bridge near a bear, but that beast came not out of his lodge, so that Saturus, being sound and not hurt, was called upon for a second encounter. This gave him an opportunity of speaking to Pudens, the jailer that had been converted. The martyr encouraged him to constancy in the faith, and said to him: "You see I have not yet been hurt by any beast, as I desired and foretold; believe then steadfastly in Christ; I am going where you will see a leopard with one bite take away my life." It happened so, for a leopard being let out upon him, covered him all over with blood, whereupon the people jeering, cried out, "He is well baptized." The martyr said to Pudens, "Go, remember my faith, and let our sufferings rather strengthen than trouble you. Give me the ring you have on your finger." Saturus, having dipped it in his wound, gave it him back to keep as a pledge to animate him to a constancy in his faith, and fell down dead soon after. Thus he went first to glory to wait for Perpetua, according to her vision. Some with Mabillon,1 think this Prudens is the martyr honored in Africa, on the 29th of April.
In the meantime, Perpetua and Felicitas had been exposed to a wild cow; Perpetua was first attacked, and the cow having tossed her up, she fell on her back. Then putting herself in a sitting posture, and perceiving her clothes were torn, she gathered them about her in the best manner she could, to cover herself, thinking more of decency than her sufferings. Getting up, not to seem disconsolate, she tied up her hair, which was fallen loose, and perceiving Felicitas on the ground much hurt by a toss of the cow, she helped her to rise. They stood together, expecting another assault from the beasts, but the people crying out that it was enough, they were led to the gate Sanevivaria, where those that were not killed by the beasts were dispatched at the end of the shows by the confectores. Perpetua was here received by Rusticus, a catechumen, who attended her. This admirable woman seemed just returning to herself out of a long ecstasy, and asked when she was to fight the wild cow. Being told what had passed, she could not believe it till she saw on her body and clothes the marks of what she had suffered, and knew the catechumen. With regard to this circumstance of her acts, St. Austin cries out, "Where was she when assaulted and torn by so furious a wild beast, without feeling her wounds, and when, after that furious combat, she asked when it would begin? What did she, not to see what all the world saw? What did she enjoy who did not feel such pain. By what love, by what vision, by what potion was she so transported out of herself, and as it were divinely inebriated, to seem without feeling in a mortal body?" She called for her brother, and said to him and Rusticus, "Continue firm in the faith, love one another, and be not scandalized at our sufferings." All the martyrs were now brought to the place of their butchery. But the people, not yet satisfied with beholding blood, cried out to have them brought into the middle of the amphitheatre, that they might have the pleasure of seeing them receive the last blow. Upon this, some of the martyrs rose up, and having given one another the kiss of peace, went of their own accord into the middle of the arena; others were dispatched without speaking, or stirring out of the place they were in. St. Perpetua fell into the hands of a very timorous and unskillful apprentice of the gladiators, who, with a trembling hand, gave her many slight wounds, which made her languish a long time. Thus, says St. Austin, did two women, amidst fierce beasts and the swords of gladiators, vanquish the devil and all his fury. 'the day of their martyrdom was the 7th of March, as it is marked in the most ancient martyrologies, and in the Roman calendar as old as the year 354, published by Bucherius St. Prosper says they suffered at Carthage, which agrees with all the circumstances. Their bodies were in the great church of Carthage, in the fifth age, as St. Victor2 informs us. Saint Austin says, their festival drew yearly more to honor their memory in their church, than curiosity had done to their martyrdom, They are mentioned in the canon of the Mass


source: http://www.ewtn.com/saintsHoly/saints/P/stperpetua_felicity.asp#ixzz1oUcsqZ3N

VATICAN : CARDINALS HOLD PRAYER SERVICE FOR CHURCH

CONGREGATIONS ARE PATH OF REFLECTION
Vatican City, 6 March 2013 (VIS) - “At the fourth General Congregation, which began this morning at 9:00am with the prayer of the Liturgy of Hours, 153 cardinals were present. This number includes four additional cardinals who arrived and were sworn in today, three Cardinal electors: Cardinal Antonios Naguib, patriarch emeritus of Alexandria, Egypt; Cardinal Karl Lehmann, bishop of Mainz, Germany; Cardinal John Tong Hon, bishop of Hong Kong, China; as well as Cardinal Friedrich Wetter, archbishop emeritus of Munich, Germany who is not an elector,” said Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., director of the Holy See Press Office during his daily news conference with journalists.
To date, there are 113 Cardinal electors present. Tomorrow the two remaining Cardinal electors are expected—Cardinal Kazimierz Nycz, archbishop of Warsaw, Poland, will arrive this afternoon and Cardinal Jean-Baptiste Pham Minh Man, archbishop of Thanh-Pho Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam tomorrow morning.
“In the fraternal spirit that characterizes the Congregations,” Fr. Lombardi reported, “Cardinal Dean Angelo Sodano wished a happy birthday to Cardinal Walter Kasper (who turned 80 yesterday), Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio (who turns 75 today), and Cardinal Julio Terrazas Sandoval, C.SS.R., (who turns 77 tomorrow). Cardinal Kasper continues to be a Cardinal elector—he will be the oldest to cast his vote in this Conclave—because the Apostolic Constitution regulating the procedure for electing the pontiff establishes the age limit for cardinals entering the Conclave to be determined from the beginning of the period of the Sede Vacante.
This morning 18 cardinals addressed the gathering. Without going into details, the director of the Holy See Press office gave a general overview of their nature. “The major theme,” Fr. Lombardi said, “was the Church in the world, the New Evangelization. Other topics included the Holy See, its Dicasteries and relations with bishops. A third theme was a profile of expectations for the next pope in view of the good government of the Church.”
“There have been 51 speeches since the beginning of the Congregations,” he added. Given the large number of cardinals wishing to address the gathering, a five minute time limit was established but is not strictly enforced. It was decided that tomorrow they will meet in a morning as well as an afternoon session.
Regarding the cancelling of the press conferences that some of the American cardinals were giving in these days, Fr. Lombardi observed that “the Congregations are not a synod or a congress in which we try to report the most information possible, but a path toward arriving at the decision of electing the Roman Pontiff. In this sense, the tradition of this path is one of reservation in order to safeguard the freedom of reflection on the part of each of the members of the College of Cardinals who has to make such an important decision. It does not surprise me, therefore, that along this path there were, at the beginning, moments of openness and communication and that afterwards, in harmony with the rest of the College, it has been established whether and how to communicate.”
Also brought up in the press conference was the date of the opening of the Conclave. “The College has a great spirit of preparation that is serious, profound, and unhurried,” Fr. Lombardi clarified. “Perhaps that is why it still did not seem opportune to take a vote on the date of the Conclave, which a large part of the College could sense as something forced in the dynamic of reflection. It also needs to be kept in mind that some cardinals are still arriving and it would be a sign of respect for them to wait until the College is complete.”
In conclusion, the director of the Holy See Press Office confirmed that “the Fisherman's Ring has been scratched over,” that is, rendered unusable.
 
CARDINALS PRAY FOR CHURCH AT ST. PETER'S
Vatican City, 6 March 2013 (VIS) – This afternoon in St. Peter's Basilica, on the occasion of the General Congregations proceeding the Conclave, the College of Cardinals will pray for the Church.
The celebration, which will be held at 5:00pm at the Altar of the Cathedra, will begin with the recitation of the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary in Italian and Latin. Following the Rosary will be the Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and a brief time for Adoration. Then simple recitation of Vespers (the Church's evening prayer) will be presided over by Cardinal Angelo Comastri, archpriest of St. Peter's Basilica. The rite will conclude with Eucharistic Benediction offered by Cardinal Comastri.
The prayer booklet for the celebration can be found online at the website of the Office for Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff:
http://www.vatican.va/news_services/liturgy/index.it.htm.
The regularly scheduled mass at the Altar of the Cathedra will be moved to another altar in St. Peter's Basilica.

EUROPE : ARCHBISHOP RELEASES LETTER ON CONCLAVE

IND. CATH. NEWS REPORT
 
A Conclave for all: Letter from Archbishop Nichols  | Archbishop Vincent Nichols, Conclave

Archbishop Vincent Nichols
The Most Rev Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster has written a letter to all parishes and schools in the Diocese about the forthcoming conclave. It reads:
My brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ
Shortly the Cardinals of the Catholic Church will assemble in the Conclave to choose the next Bishop of Rome, who will replace Benedict XVI as Pope and Successor of St Peter.
Much is made of who will and who won't be present in that Conclave. Some voices are raised to complain that 'Britain does not have a voice.'
But if we understand correctly the nature of the Church and of the Conclave then we know that is not the true or full story.
The full story, or account, of the Church is that it is, most profoundly, a spiritual reality. It is not simply an institution or an organisation for religious or humanitarian purposes. It is more than a human community. Its true life and identity is Christ, the sole redeemer and only one who has broken the barrier of death. In the Church we are bound together in Christ. I do more than 'belong to the Church.' The Church is a living reality that enters my soul. It is in the deepest part of my being.
This is why whenever failures and wounds are inflicted on the Church or laid bare, the pain and distress we feel is so intense and deeply personal. In the Church we are immersed together in a reality that not only gives us a new identity, beyond every other, but that also fashions us for eternity.
Prayer is one of the deepest expressions of this reality. Prayer confirms in us our unity in Christ. Prayer strengthens us together in the face of every difficulty and deepens in us together the strength of every joy. Prayer is the heartbeat of the Church, which I feel and to which I contribute. Prayer fashions us together in our common enterprise of being the Body of Christ today.
This reality is expressed in the forthcoming Conclave. This reality is the deeper truth of the Conclave. Through prayer it is truly a Conclave for all. No-one is excluded. Everyone can contribute.
The moment the key turns to begin the Conclave, then we take up a very special time of prayer. Whether the Conclave lasts for two days or two weeks, we sustain that prayer. We pray for each and every Cardinal in his decision taking. They are striving to be, first of all, instruments of God, in some ways like pens in the hand of the Lord. We pray for them that they will respond freely and sensitively to the hand that moves them, the mind that directs them. Christ is that hand whose will is one with that of his heavenly Father.
During the Conclave we pray as the Church and for the Church, knowing that this prayer unites us in a common action, a common endeavour: that the new Pope, elected by the Cardinals, is the one chosen by the will of God.
This prayer is our part, our participation, in the Conclave, our contribution to its decision. This is our way of seeking what is best for the Church at this crucial moment in our history.
Do not neglect this task that is given to each one of us. Please make the time of the Conclave a time of very special prayer, in our homes, our schools, our parishes and in the silence of our hearts.
Yours devotedly

Vincent Nichols
Archbishop of Westminster

SHARED FROM IND. CATH. NEWS

AFRICA : NIGERIA : BISHOPS CALL FOR DEFENCE OF HUMAN DIGNITY

CISA NEWS REPORT


Bishops-Call-for-the-Defence-of-Human-Dignity
ABUJA, March 6, 2013 (CISA) -Bishops in Nigeria have called for the defence of human dignity in Nigeria.
“The defence of human dignity is an obligation of faith and every action committed against it is an act against God,” said the Bishops of Nigeria in a statement issued at the end of their Plenary Assembly under the theme ‘Faith and Dignity of the Human Being’.
The Bishops also denounced violence committed against innocent people by Boko Haram and other armed groups: “We denounce the fact that Nigeria is a place where people arbitrarily kill in the name of religion, a land where freedom of religion is limited only to certain people.”
The statement signed by Most Rev Ignatius Kaigama, Archbishop of Jos, and by Most Rev Alfred Martins, Archbishop of Lagos, the President and Secretary of the Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria, stated that the offenses against human dignity are: murder, genocide, abortion, euthanasia, suicide, mutilation, physical and mental torture, undue psychological pressures, subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution, trafficking and selling of women and children, and degrading work conditions.
These crimes, say the Bishops, “poison civilization and debase its authors more than their victims.”
According to Fides the Bishops say that Nigeria is facing serious threats to human dignity including poor governance, insecurity, corruption, moral collapse, violations of citizens’ rights on the basis of ethnic affiliation, religious belief, gender, and geographical origin.
SHARED FROM CISA NEWS 

AUSTRALIA : CATHOLIC SCHOOLS WEEK


Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
5 Mar 2013
St Brendan's Primary students excitedly prepare for Catholic Schools Week
From Sunday, 10 March more than 68,000 students from Sydney's 149 Catholic primary and systemic secondary schools will showcase their talents, academic achievements and sporting ability as part of Catholic Schools Week.
Now in its eighth year, Catholic Schools Week is held across NSW and the ACT and is a chance for parents and local communities to see Catholic education in action and to help celebrate 180 years of continuous Catholic education in Australia.
"The theme this year is 'Every Child Counts' and I cannot think of a better statement that reflects what our schools are all about," says Dr Dan White, Director of Schools for the Archdiocese in Sydney.
At the helm of the Sydney Catholic Education Office (CEO), Dr White has responsibility for schools across the city. He is also in charge of more than 6000 staff and with his team at CEO, liases with around 100,000 parents to ensure that each young girl or boy is monitored, mentored and receives the very best in terms of an academic as well as a faith-based education.
Youngsters Prepare for Catholic Schools Week
"As a parent who has had six children, there was nothing more important to myself or my wife than knowing that when they headed off to school each day, they were going to a safe place where they would be well looked after, be taught by great teachers and feel valued for who they were," he says.
Dr White is determined that every child who attends a Catholic school in Sydney is able to reach their full potential.
"Our schools create many opportunities for students to grow and thrive in what is an increasingly complex world," he says. "Our fantastic teachers and support staff place the learning and well being of every student at the centre of everything they do."
Students at Catholic schools, which are responsible for educating one in five Australian children, also receive overwhelming support from parent communities, Dr White says and believes all these factors are what make a Catholic education so special.
Choir at Our lady of the Roseary, Fairfield showcased their talents
By any measure Catholic schools are very successful. Dr White cites the 2012 NAPLAN (National Australian Program of Literacy and Numeracy) test results as an example. "For the fifth successive year, students at our schools performed above the state and national average," he says.
The HSC achievements by students at Sydney's systemic Catholic schools are equally impressive. In last year's HSC, Catholic students scored well above the state average in  72% of the courses undertaken.
"But good schools are about much more than just strong test results. Good schools build young people into strong confident learners who want to make a difference and who believe great things are possible for them. The Gospel  values of love, faith and compassion sit at the heart of what Catholic schools are all about and it is these values that call to us to reach out to all sections of society, especially to the disadvantaged and the marginalised," he says and adds that "Sydney Catholic Schools respond to this call every day."
Dr Dan White with Sam, a young student from St Brendan's Kindergarden
Although schools and their students will strut their stuff this week, showcasing their talents as film makers, musicians or in some cases, turning the tables and becoming teacher to a classroom full of parents, Dr White warns that despite the strong achievements realised by Catholic educators, this is a critical time for education in Australia.
"Late last year the NSW Government made drastic cuts to the education budget that will hit our schools hard in the years ahead," he warns.
Catholic education along with private, independent and public schools are now awaiting details based on the Gonski Review of the Federal Government's new funding model.  Worryingly, this may also trigger cuts in funds forcing schools and particularly Catholic schools to do even more with far less.
"Every child is entitled to the best education our country can provide, regardless of what school he or she attends, or where that school is," Dr White says. "My strong hope is that our schools, like all other schools across Australia, are provided with sufficient funding that will allow them to deliver the high quality education our kids deserve."
For parents with children at Catholic schools or thinking about enrolling their child in a Catholic school, Catholic Schools Week which runs from 10-16 March is a chance for the public to see Catholic education in action.
To find out more go to http://www.ceosyd.catholic.edu.au
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AMERICA : VENEZUELA : PRESIDENT CHAVEZ DIES FROM CANCER

Agenzia Fides REPORT - Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino, Archbishop of Caracas, will celebrate a "Mass" in honor of the late President of Venezuela Hugo Rafael Chavez Frias in Rome, where he is to attend the conclave that will elect a new pope.
In a statement sent to Fides, "Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino, Archbishop of Caracas, will celebrate a Mass for the funeral in Rome, in a place and date to be announced, and calls on all Venezuelans who want to participate in a religious ceremony to pray for President Chavez," who died yesterday, March 5 at the military hospital in Caracas.
The Archbishop expressed his "condolences" to the family of the late President, and urged the authorities "to apply the mechanisms provided for by the Constitution" and all sectors of society to promote "calm and harmony of the people." "In particular, it is necessary to exclude all forms of violence," he added.
In another note sent to Fides on the situation in Caracas, it states that the Cardinal’s request, unfortunately, has not yet been heard by the "Chavistas": in fact, around the military hospital some journalists of a multimedia Colombian group were attacked, beaten and threatened between screams and shots. (CE) 

ASIA : IRAQ : NEW PATRIARCH ENTHRONED

ASIA NEWS REPORT
Saint Joseph's Cathedral hosted the ceremony of enthronement of His Beatitude Mar Louis Raphael I. The latter thanked his predecessor and renewed the offer to work with Muslims. Prime Minister al-Maliki stressed the importance of Iraq's Christian community, urging them "not to emigrate".


Baghdad (AsiaNews) - "Do not be afraid" to face and surmount "a difficult period" because suffering, tribulations and the blood shed by martyrs can "incorporate us into the mystery of Christ" and "help us recognise the presence of God among us," said Mar Louis Raphael I Sako during the Mass that enthroned him today in Baghdad's St Joseph Cathedral. The event marks the start of the new patriarchate of the Iraqi Chaldean Church.
High-ranking Christian and Muslim religious leaders as well as political and civic leaders, not to mention thousands of the faithful, took part in the ceremony. In addition to the patriarchs of the Eastern Churches and the Apostolic Nuncio to Jordan and Iraq, Mgr Giorgio Lingua, Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki and National Assembly Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi were also present.
The prime minister noted again that Christians are an important part of the country. He urged them "not to emigrate", saying that "we are sad to see them leave because of threats from depraved people."
Mar Louis Raphael I Sako was appointed patriarch of the Chaldean Church of Iraq on 31 January in replacement of Card Emmanuel Delly III who resigned because of age. This followed a mini-conclave held in Rome 28 January that brought together 15 Chaldean bishops, seven from Iraq, two from Iran, two from the United States, and one from Lebanon, Syria, Australia and Canada.
Born on 4 July 1948 in Zahko, northern Iraq, Mar Louis Raphael I Sako was ordained priest on 1 June 1974. He held the post of archbishop of Kirkuk for many years.
On several occasions, he bemoaned the exodus of Christians from the country, calling for steps to guarantee them a peaceful future. For his work, he received theDefensor Fidei Award in 2008 and the Pax Christi International Award in 2010.
In his maiden speech, Patriarch Sako looked back on his beginnings, talking about his years in Kirkuk, 'the city of the eternal fire', and his return to Baghdad, 'the city of peace'.
In thanking his predecessor Patriarch Delly, "who served the Chaldean Church in difficult times and chose to remain in Iraq," he spoke about the "last few years full of dangers, and the fear of death that still lives in our people."
"Enough blood and destruction," His Beatitude said. "True greatness is achieved not by domination but by service and sacrifice to consolidate what is good, righteous and honest."
Difficulties, violence and persecution should not push a community to leave. Yet, half have done so since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003. For this reason, during the homily the patriarch warned the faithful "not be afraid" as Jesus said "before and after his resurrection".
"Suffering, tribulations and the blood shed by martyrs can incorporate us into the mystery of Christ" and "help us recognise the presence of God among us," he added. For this, we need "authenticity connected to renewal" that will touch "our liturgy and teaching methods" in accordance with "the spirit of the Second Vatican Council and the apostolic exhortation 'Ecclesia in Medio Oriente'. This way, the faithful will be able to understand, share and be closer to Christ and the Church."
Speaking about the exodus of Christians from Iraq and relations with the Muslim majority, His Beatitude spoke about the problems associated with "security and freedom". In spite of the situation, "I do not encourage anyone to leave the country." On the contrary, people "should stay and continue on their path because it is a duty towards one's faith and homeland."
Thus, it is necessary "to work with everyone in the Chaldean Church," especially "with my fellow bishops, priests, men and women religious, believers, men and women, for the good of the Church and the people."
 "With our Muslim brothers that God loves as he loves us, we shall stress what brings us closer whilst respecting what makes us different," said the Chaldean patriarch.
Although "It is God's will that we be different, we must work on finding grounds on which we can meet and share because, as Benedict XVI said in his first meeting with the new patriarch, the Iraqi Church must continue to be a bridge between Christians and Muslims. (DS)

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TODAY'S MASS ONLINE : WED. MARCH 6, 2013


Matthew 5:
 17 - 19

17"Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them.
18For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished.
19Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

TODAY'S SAINT : MARCH 6: ST. COLETTE OF CORBIE


St. Colette of Corbie
FOUNDRESS OF THE COLETTINE POOR CLARES
Feast: February 7


Information:
Feast Day:February 7 or March 6
Born:
13 January 1381, at Corbie in Picardy, France
Died:6 March 1447, Ghent
Canonized:24 May 1807
Founder of Colettine Poor Clares (Clarisses), born 13 January 1381, at Corbie in Picardy, France; died at Ghent, 6 March, 1447. Her father, Robert Boellet, was the carpenter of the famous Benedictine Abbey of Corbie; her mother's name was Marguerite Moyon. Colette joined successively the Bequines, the Benedictines, and the Urbanist Poor Clares. Later she lived for a while as a recluse. Having resolved to reform the Poor Clares, she turned to the antipope, Benedict XIII (Pedro de Luna), then recognized by France as the rightful pope. Benedict allowed her to enter to the order of Poor Clares and empowered her by several Bulls, dated 1406, 1407, 1408, and 1412 to found new convents and complete the reform of the order. With the approval of the Countess of Geneva and the Franciscan Henri de la Beaume, her confessor and spiritual guide, Colette began her work at Beaume, in the Diocese of Geneva. She remained there but a short time and soon opened at Besancon her first convent in an almost abandoned house of Urbanist Poor Clares. Thence her reform spread to Auxonne (1410), to Poligny, to Ghent (1412), to Heidelberg (1444), to Amiens, etc. To the seventeen convents founded during her lifetime must be added another begun by her at Pont-a-Mousson in Lorraine. She also inaugurated a reform among the Franciscan friars (the Coletani), not to be confounded with the Observants. These Coletani remained obedient to the authority of the provincial of the Franciscan convents, and never attained much importance even in France. In 1448 they had only thirteen convents, and together with other small branches of the Franciscan Order were suppressed in 1417 by Leo X. In addition to the strict rules of the Poor Clares, the Colettines follow their special constitutions sanctioned in 1434 by the General of the Franciscans, William of Casale, approved in 1448 by Nicholas V, in 1458 by Pius II, and in 1482 by Sixtus IV.

St. Colette was beatified 23 January, 1740, and canonized 24 May, 1807. She was not only a woman of sincere piety, but also intelligent and energetic, and exercised a remarkable moral power over all her associates. She was very austere and mortified in her life, for which God rewarded her by supernatural favours and the gift of miracles. For the convents reformed by her she prescribed extreme poverty, to go barefooted, and the observance of perpetual fast and abstinence. The Colettine Sisters are found today, outside of France, in Belgium, Germany, Spain, England, and the United States.


source: http://www.ewtn.com/saintsHoly/saints/C/stcoletteofcorbie.asp#ixzz1oKKaVjSv

VATICAN : CARDINALS SEND NOTE OF THANKS TO BENEDICT XVI

CARDINALS SEND TELEGRAM OF GRATITUDE TO BENEDICT XVI
Vatican City, 5 March 2013 (VIS) – Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., director of the Holy See Press Office, in this afternoon's press conference, gave updated information on the development of the General Congregations. (IMAGE SOURCE: RADIO VATICANA)
“On Monday afternoon from 5:00pm until 7:00pm,” he said, “the second General Congregation of the College of Cardinals took place, during which Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM Cap., preacher of the Pontifical Household, gave the first of the meditations provided for by the Apostolic Constitution.”
“Additionally, a further five Cardinal electors who had arrived in Rome swore the oath: Cardinal Bechara Boutros Rai, O.M.M., patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites, Lebanon; Cardinal Joachim Meisner, archbishop of Cologne, Germany; Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, archbishop of Berlin, Germany; Cardinal Théodore-Adrien Sarr, archbishop of Dakar, Senegal; and Cardinal Dominik Jaroslav Duka, O.P., archbishop of Prague, Czech Republic.”
The cardinals are free to address the gathering, having only to sign up and then presenting in the order that they have signed in. Nine cardinals spoke and it was also decided that, on Tuesday and Wednesday, the Congregations will only be held in the morning.
Referring to the third Congregation that took place this morning from 9:30am until 12:40pm, Fr. Lombardi reported that two Cardinal electors—Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela, archbishop of Madrid and Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for Catholic Education—and five cardinals who are over the age of 80 arrived and swore the oath. In total there were 148 cardinals present.
There were 11 speeches given by cardinals representing each of the continents and the topics discussed were: activities of the Holy See and its relations with bishops throughout the world; Church renewal in light of Vatican Council II; the Church's position and the need for the New Evangelization in today's world with its diverse cultural environments. Number 37 of Benedict XVI's Motu Proprio concerning the beginning of the Conclave was presented to the prelates but no decision regarding its date was made.
There was also a proposal, endorsed by the Particular Congregation, to dedicate tomorrow afternoon to prayer in St. Peter's Basilica. The Cardinal Dean, Angelo Sodano, will lead the prayers. This initiative will also serve as an invitation to the entire Church to pray at this important moment. The ceremony is open to the public so any faithful who so desire may attend.
In conclusion, the text of a telegram for Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, which was signed by Cardinal Dean Sodano, was approved. It reads: “To His Holiness, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Castel Gandolfo.”
“The Cardinal Fathers, gathered at the Vatican for the General Congregations in view of the next conclave, send you their devoted greetings and express their renewed gratitude for all your illustrious Petrine ministry and for your example of generous pastoral care for the good of the Church and of the world. With their gratitude they hope to represent the recognition of the entire Church for your tireless work in the vineyard of the Lord. In conclusion, the members of the College of Cardinals trust in your prayers for them, as well as for the whole Church.”
Fr. Lombardi reported that the preparations for the Conclave have begun in the Sistine Chapel so it is now closed to visitors. He also presented data on the media coverage of the events of the Holy See in these days: 4,432 temporarily accredited journalists have joined the 600 permanently accredited journalists. The more than 5,000 journalists represent 1,004 news outlets, 65 nations, and 24 languages.
 
NEW CHALICE-URNS FOR ELECTION OF POPE
Vatican City, 5 March 2013 (VIS) – On a tapestry hanging in the eponymous gallery of the Vatican Museums, we find one of the oldest witnesses of the chalice-urns that served to gather the ballots of the cardinals voting in the election of a new pontiff.
The tapestry relates an episode narrated in the chronicles of the election of Pope Urban VIII (1623-1644). In the final scrutiny, during the counting of the ballots, one ballot was missing. On the right-hand side of the tapestry, one can see a scrutineer who is looking inside a large chalice with attention and interest, as if to verify the presence of the lost ballot.
A chalice that is very similar to the one seen in the tapestry and a pyx (ciborium) are preserved in the pontifical sacristy of the Sistine Chapel. This chalice and pyx have been used to gather the voting ballots in the conclaves of the last century, up to the election of John Paul II.
With the promulgation of the Apostolic Constitution "Universi Dominici Gregis" concerning the period of Sede Vacante of the Apostolic See and the election of the Roman Pontiff (John Paul II, 22 February 1996), the need arose to adapt the urns to the new norms. It was necessary to add a new urn to the chalice and pyx called for in previous regulations, in order to receive the votes of any cardinals having the right to vote but who were impeded through illness from leaving their room to be present for the voting process in the Sistine Chapel. Rather than creating another urn, three new ones were designed during John Paul II's pontificate, principally to make them more functional for the intended use, but also to make them uniform.
The function of the urns is described in Chapter V of the Constitution, which also speaks of a plate to be placed on top of the first urn. Every cardinal, in fact, must "place his ballot on the plate, with which he drops it into the receptacle beneath." The second urn will be used only in the case of the presence in the Conclave of cardinals impeded by illness from leaving their rooms and the third urn will be used to gather the ballots after the scrutiny, before they are burned to produce the traditional smoke announcing to the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square either the non-election (black smoke) or the election (white smoke) of the new Pontiff.
The urns are the work of the Italian sculptor Cecco Bonanotte, already known for the new entrance doors of the Vatican Museums that were inaugurated on the occasion of the Jubilee Year 2000. They are made of silver and gilded bronze and their iconography is linked to two fundamental symbols: the first is that of the Good Shepherd and the second of charity. The symbols chosen by the artist for the three urns—a shepherd and his sheep along with more subtle birds, grapes, and ears of grain—are united in a simple and direct way to the meaning that the person of the Pope has in the Church: the shepherd, indeed the Good Shepherd who, in the name of Christ, has the duty of "confirming his brothers" (Luke 22:31) in the faith.
The symbolism of the Good Shepherd, however, also underlines the style of exercising this primacy, which is indissolubly linked to charity. This idea is clearly expressed in the Gospel of John (21:15-25) where "feeding" the flock is joined inseparably to loving care: "Simon of John, do you love me?..." Peter tells him: "Lord, you know everything, you know that I love you: "Feed my lambs." The relationship of love between Jesus and Peter, and as a consequence between the Pope and the Church, is emphasized in the other symbols used to decorate the urns: the birds, grapes, and the ears of grain. Eucharistic bread and wine, which are Christ, accentuate the idea of charity underlined by the sharing of this very bread and the chalice.

AFRICA : LIBYA : GUNMAN TRY TO KILL TWO PRIESTS

ASIA NEWS REPORT
Islamists try to lynch Fr Paul Isaac, an Egyptian Coptic Orthodox priest, and his assistant. Although the incident occurred on 3 February, it was only reported last night. This is the third attack against the country's Christian community. The Libyan government condemns the attack, calling it an attack against Islam.

Benghazi (AsiaNews) - Islamic militiamen attacked Benghazi's Coptic Orthodox Church on 3 February. During the incident in the capital of Cyrenaica, the gunmen assaulted two clergymen, Fr Paul Isaac and his assistant, whose name was not released, state-ownedLibyan News Agency (LANA) reported last night.
The foreign ministry said it "strongly condemned Thursday's attack on the Egyptian church" and expressed "deep concern" over the attack, saying it was "contrary to the rules" of Islam.
Benghazi's Coptic community has not yet made any public statement on the matter. Speaking to AsiaNews, local Copts said that the community chose silence fearing more attacks.
In December, an explosion at a building belonging to a Coptic church in Dafniya, close to the western city of Misratah, killed two Egyptian men and wounded two others.
In another case of anti-Christian persecution, 48 Egyptian peddlers were arrested in Benghazi last Thursday on suspicion of proselytising. Eventually, 20 were sent home after Egyptian authorities intervened.
Also last month, four foreigners, an Egyptian, a South African, a Korean and a Swede who was travelling on a US passport, were arrested in Benghazi on suspicion of being Christian missionaries and printing books about Christianity. They are now in prison in Tripoli waiting for trial.
With the fall of Muammar Gaddafi, killed in October 2011, Libya has turned into a hub for radical Muslim groups and militias from across the Middle East and North Africa.
Catholic religious orders have also been targeted by Muslim extremists despite operating in the country for decades in hospitals and nursing homes.
For example, in January Islamists forced the Ursuline Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus out of the city of Bayda.
In October, the same thing happened to the Sisters of the Convent of the Sacred Family of Spoleto in Derna who felt they had to leave the city even though local residents wanted them to stay. (S.C.)
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AMERICA : PANAMA : CALL FOR PEACEFUL ELECTIONS

Agenzia Fides REPORT - The Catholic Church has re-launched its appeal to all political parties to sign the Panamanian electoral ethical pact to prevent violence and ensure peaceful and transparent elections in May 2014 (see Fides 31/01/2013). The last date of signature expires on March 6.
His Exc. Mgr. José Domingo Ulloa, Archbishop of Panama, one of the main supporters of the pact, insisted that the signing of this document, prepared by the Panamanian Episcopal Conference, and submitted through the Commission for Justice and Peace, is a means to create a climate of trust, security and electoral transparency.
The Archbishop was very direct and determined by inviting the citizens to refrain from providing support to candidates who are more interested in destroying or smearing the opponent and to support series proposals for the common good. He also urged the media and the civil authorities to commit themselves to creating an electoral environment where the respect of human dignity prevails. The ruling party has not yet signed the pact. (CE) 

AUSTRALIA : 16 NEW STATUES IN CATHEDRAL


Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese REPORT
5 Mar 2013
Statues of St Thomas, St Andrew, St Philip and St Peter and the Apostles
A team of heritage stone masons have spent the past six days installing 16 specially-commissioned hand-carved painted statues in the reredos, the ornate stone screen, behind the high altar at St Mary's Cathedral.
The 17 niches in the elaborately carved stone reredos were always meant to be filled with depictions of the Apostles, St Paul, John the Baptist and the two Biblical prophets, Elijah and Moses, and were  part of architect, William Wardell's original vision for the Cathedral.
But for 133 years the niches in the reredos remained empty except for the central niche where Wardell and Bishop John Bede Polding had installed an exquisite statue of Our Lady Help of Christians, patron saint of Australia.
No one is sure why the niches in the reredos were never filled and one of the legends has it that they were ordered from European ecclesiastical sculptors but went down in the ship carrying them to Australia.
One of the stone masons prepares a statue for installation in the reredos
Now after almost a century and a half, Wardell's dream for the Cathedral is about to be realised with the final statue, one of Elijah set to be installed later today.
Commissioned by the Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell and made possible by donations from the Friends of the Cathedral, the Australian Catholic University (ACU) and Damian Fogarty, the statues were created by sculptors, carvers, painters and leading ecclesiastical artisans at Spain's famous Talleres de Arte Grandas workshop.
Each one is a work of art in its own right. Arriving from Spain in late December the statues were carefully unpacked and six weeks ago went on display in the Lady Chapel  to enable Sydneysiders to have a close up view of these latest treasures prior to their installation in the ornate reredos behind the high altar.
Since  his arrival in Sydney in 2001, the Cardinal has done much to complete Wardell and Bishop Polding's original vision for the Cathedral as well as instigating the conservation, repair, cleaning and restoration of the Cathedral's paintings, artefacts and sculptures. His Eminence also began an ongoing conservation, cleaning and restoration program for St Mary's magnificent sandstone interior and exterior walls.
Installation of the statues in the Cathedral reredos needed special care
In addition, Cardinal Pell has commissioned and overseen several important new works at the Cathedral including the altar triptych by British master sculptor Nigel Boonham and the superb statue of Australia's first saint, St Mary of the Cross MacKillop by Melbourne-based sculptor Louis Laumen which stands on the steps of the Cathedral's Western Transept in College Street.
Of the new wooden handpainted statues, two of the Biblical prophets are larger than the others and are designed to stand in the taller niches which flank each side of the reredos.
The team of stone masons have been hard at work on the installation of the 16 statues since Thursday last week.
"Moses, the Apostles, John the Baptist and St Paul are now in place and being secured. Then later today the final statue among the 16, one of the prophet Elijah will be installed," says Dieter Koch, Property Officer for the Archdiocese of Sydney.
The Cathedral's main altar and reredos with its empty niches
Tomorrow will be spent on clean up and final touches and by Thursday, William Wardell's dream will be realised at last.












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TODAY'S GOSPEL ONLINE : TUES. MARCH 5, 2013



Matthew 18:
 21 - 35


21Then Peter came up and said to him, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?"
22Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.
23"Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants.
24When he began the reckoning, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents;
25and as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made.
26So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, `Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.'
27And out of pity for him the lord of that servant released him and forgave him the debt.
28But that same servant, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat he said, `Pay what you owe.'
29So his fellow servant fell down and besought him, `Have patience with me, and I will pay you.'
30He refused and went and put him in prison till he should pay the debt.
31When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place.
32Then his lord summoned him and said to him, `You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you besought me;
33and should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?'
34And in anger his lord delivered him to the jailers, till he should pay all his debt.
35So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart."