Canonization of St. Louise de Marillac: Account of March 11, 1934

(From “Chronicle of the American Sisters of the Eastern Province of the Canonization of St. Louise” [1934], used with permission of the Daughters of Charity Provincial Archives)

March 11 [1934]: Mass at St. Vincent’s at 5:30; Holy Communion before Mass; a light, exceedingly light breakfast, and then we were off to share in the greatest honor the Community has received since the Canonization of St. Vincent de Paul himself. We arrived at the sacristy of St. Peter’s at about 6:45 but, at least, two thousand persons, including numerous Sisters of Charity had gotten in ahead of us. All the American Sisters were well placed in tribunes that allowed excellent views of the ceremonies … Though we waited two hours before His Holiness was heralded, the time seemed short with such a feast before our American eyes.

The two hours of waiting were due to the ceremony that takes place in the Apostolic Palace. The Holy Father goes through various room, ceremonially significant, and finally, vested in his long whit mantle, is borne to the Sistine Chapel where on his knees he intones the Ave Maris Stella. He then receives the Mitre and being seated in the Sedia Gestatoria follows the long procession which had been in process of formation … Through the Scala Regia and the Portico the procession advanced at about 8:30 … The banner bearing a painting of St. Louise with a group of Sisters came next and was greeted by a wild burst of applause from all sides … a thrill of joyous emotion filled the heart of every child of St. Vincent and Blessed Louise, for the Representative of Christ had deigned to come to honor their mother.

On his arrival at the Confession or central altar, our Holy Father descended from the Sedia, said a short prayer, then walked down to the great central Throne, the Chair of Peter … Kneeling, the [Consistatorial] Advocate addressed the Holy Father in Latin thus: Holy Father, the very Reverend Cardinal, here present, earnestly, petitions your Holiness to insert in the list of Saints of Our Lord Jesus Christ and order, that by all the faithful, be venerated as a Saint, the Blessed Louise de Marillac … The Cardinal Procurator and the Advocate again approached the Throne making the same petition … The Cardinal Procurator and the Advocate approached the Throne for the third time and repeated the petition. The Secretary replied that His Holiness was convinced that the Canonization of St. Louise was pleasing to God and that he would pronounce the final sentence.

The tens of thousands of faithful filling the Basilica rose to their feet … Pius XI, seated on the Cathedra, the Chair of Peter, in quality of Doctor and Infallible Head of the Church, solemnly uttered the formula of the Canonization and Louise de Marillac in that moment became Saint Louise. A few formalities were exchanged and then the Holy Father rose and intoned the Te Deum. The choir took it up and hundreds of priestly voices joined in, alternately, making the effect most impressive. At the end the Holy Father recited the prayer of Saint Louise and immediately after this the Cardinal Deacon sang the Confiteor, naming Saint Louise after the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul. A final Pontifical blessing and the great ceremony of the Canonization of St. Louise de Marillac was accomplished …

After His Holiness pronounced the words of Consecration and adored the Sacred Host he elevated it and turned from left to right giving the faithful in the cross sections an opportunity to see it. … When the sacred vessels had been purified and carried to the credence the Holy Father returned to the altar and continued the Mass. The solemn blessing having been given … the Holy Father mounted the Sedia and the recessional began … The silver trumpets that at the moment of Consecration solemnly and majestically pealed forth the exquisite strains of Silveri, rang out again in the same stately march that ushered in His Holiness, and the great bells of St. Peters, wild with joy, loudly proclaimed to Rome and to the world the entrance of a new Saint into the galaxy of the Church’s chosen ones …

… As we came out of the Basilica it was teeming rain but nothing could dampen our joy, not even a Roman rain. Perhaps heaven was weeping tears of happiness over the recognition given to one of its celestial inhabitants … Word came today that the anticipated audience with the Holy Father will be at 1:00 on Tuesday.

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Filed under Church History, Louise de Marillac, Pius XI

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