The Pope, the King and the Lateran Treaty

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The Pope, the King and the Lateran Treaty

It was yesterday in 1929 that the Lateran Treaty was ratified between the Holy See and the Kingdom of Italy which finally ended the stand-off known as the “Roman Question” that existed since the forces of the Kingdom of Italy occupied and annexed the city of Rome in 1870 at which point the Pope withdrew inside the walls of Vatican City, refusing to recognize the united Italy in a self-imposed “exile” of sorts which lasted from that time until the Lateran Accords were signed. During that time the Popes refused to set foot outside the Vatican, banned (or attempted to ban) Catholic participation in Italian politics and refused to recognise the legal existence of the Kingdom of Italy. This split the Roman nobility into two rival camps; the “White Nobility” around the King and the “Black Nobility” around the Pope. Ordinary Italians, the vast majority of whom were solidly Catholic, mostly accepted the new political realities whether they welcomed them or not. Even Catholic clergy had to walk a thin line, remaining loyal to the Pope in keeping with their vow of obedience but also continuing to administer the sacraments even amidst the most difficult of circumstances. For example, since 1870 the Holy See had withdrawn Catholic chaplains from the Royal Italian Army yet in World War I many Catholic clerics volunteered to serve, many quite heroically, even accompanying troops as they charged into enemy machine-gun fire to administer the last rites and attend to soldiers who were wounded. Continue reading

Our Lady of Lourdes

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Our Lady of Lourdes


My bow shall appear in the clouds and I will remember My covenant with you –Gen. 9: 14-15.

The lessons at Matins on February 11, 1854 (Thursday in Sexagesima week) recalled these words, and the world soon learned that on this very day Mary had appeared, more fair than the sign of hope which typified her at the time of the deluge.

Portents, the realization of which we see in these days, were being multiplied. Mankind had grown old, and seemed about to perish in a deluge more dreadful than the former one. “I am the Immaculate Conception,” said the Mother of divine grace to the humble child whom she chose at such a time to bear her message to the captain of the Ark of salvation. She pierced the gathering darkness with the light of that sublime privilege which the supreme pilot, to his eternal glory, had declared three years before to be dogma.

Indeed, if, as the beloved disciple says, it is our faith to which victory on earth is promised (i John v. 4), and if faith is nourished by light–what individual dogma is there which so presupposes and recalls all other dogmatic truths, and at the same time throws such light upon them? It is a royal crown on the brow of the victorious queen, resplendent like the rainbow, which breaks through the clouds with all the glories of heaven.

But perchance it was still necessary to open the eyes of the blind to these splendours, to inspire courage into hearts saddened by hell’s denials, and to infuse strength to make an act of faith into so many understandings weakened by the education of these days. The Immaculate Virgin summoned the multitudes to the scene of her blessed visit, and both sweetly and strongly succoured the weakness of souls by healing bodies. She smiled upon publicity, welcomed investigation, and confirmed by the authority of miracles her own words and the definition of the Vicar of Christ . . . Continue reading