(Account of Sister Margaret O’Keefe taken from the Provincial Annals. Used with permission of Daughters of Charity Provincial Archives)
On May 9, 1920, Louise de Marillac, co-founder of the Daughters of Charity, was declared Blessed by Pope Benedict XV . Today’s is the first of three posts with accounts of Sister Margaret O’Keefe, then Visitatrix of the Emmitsburg Province, who traveled to Rome for the beatification ceremony.
May 6. Thursday. Went to St. Paul’s without the Walls. It is quite a long ride and we saw some of the old walls of Rome and other interesting things. The Church is magnificent and beautiful beyond expression. The Chapel of the Crucifix where St. Ignatius and his first companions made their first Vows, and where our Lord from His Cross spoke to St. Bridget of Sweden as she prayed before the crucifix. The magnificent Confessio where the relics of St. Paul and his disciples, Timothy are kept. The porphyry pillars in the Church were the gift of Mehemet Ali Viceroy of Egypt.
May 7. Friday. St. Mary Major. Our Lady of the Snow. Majestic and most beautiful 36 white marble pillars taken from a temple of Juno the beautiful paneled ceiling is richly decorated with the first gold brought from South America. The relics of Saint Matthew. The Borghese Chapel has precious marbles and is one of the richest in Rome. Above the beautiful altar is the Madonna painted by St. Luke. Sistine Chapel – in the center beneath the altar is the Chapel of the Manger in which are preserved some boards taken from the Manger in which our Lord was laid.
San Pietro in Vincoli. The chains which bound St. Peter in Jerusalem were brought from the Holy Land by the Empress Eudoxia and presented to Leo I. they are kept in a beautiful shrine under the high altar. It is enclosed by railings and marble steps lead down. A priest happened to come out of the confessional, and seeing us came and explained the different parts. Before opening the Shrine he put on a surplice and lighted two candles on the altar – turned a crank, and the doors of bronze and gold opened in the centre and slid back, revealing a beautiful gold shrine in which were the heavy iron chains so arranged that you could see them plainly, we knelt before them deeply impressed. We procured from the sacristy small chains blessed, that had touched this most precious relic. It was well worth climbing the three long flights of stone steps leading up to this hill.