Friday, October 21, 2011

VATICAN CITY, 21 OCT 2011 (VIS) - This morning in the Holy See Press Office, a press conference was held to present an international congress dedicated to St. Catherine, Doctor of the Church and co-patron of Europe. The congress will be held in Rome and Siena from 27 to 29 October.The congress has as its title "'Virgo digna Coelo'. Catherine and her heritage on the 550th anniversary of her canonisation" and has been organised by the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences in collaboration with the Dominican Order, the archdiocese of Siena and the St. Catherine International Study Centre. Today's press conference was presented by Fr. Bernard Ardura O. Praem., president of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences; Umberto Utro, curator of the Christian antiquities section of the Vatican Museums, and Fr. Bernardino Prella O.P., assistant for Malta and Italy of the Master of the Order of Friars Preachers.Fr. Ardura pointed out that "the figure of St. Catherine extends far beyond her own earthly existence and takes on a powerful symbolic value which, as we approach the Year of Faith, serves to remind us of the unshakeable faith which she possessed and which made her spiritual mother to so many Christians". He went on to explain that the forthcoming congress will be divided into four sessions "to facilitate a more profound examination of the life and influence of the saint" who, he said, "also enjoyed great recognition among theologians, to the point that on 4 October 1970 Paul VI declared her a Doctor of the Church, for her exalted theology and her influence in the renewal of that discipline".The first session of the congress will see a contribution from Cardinal Angelo Amato S.D.B, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. The second session will be dedicated to the cause of canonisation of St. Catherine, including an examination of its documents and a review of models of female sanctity between 1300 and 1400. The third session will focus on the relationship between St. Catherine and the religious orders of her day. "In the fourth session", Fr. Ardura continued, "we will see how it is possible to study and celebrate St. Catherine today, because her memory has remained alive among Christians and her influence has never ceased to enrich the Church, mainly though hagiographies and literary culture, and in particular thanks to her magnificent Letters".On its last day the congress will move to Siena for the inauguration of an exhibition entitled "Catherine of Siena and the process of canonisation". It will also hold its last session there, dedicated to "St. Catherine in art". Professor Utro explained that the session will take place in the chapter house of the convent of St. Dominic in Siena, and will be presided by Paolo Nardi, prior general of the International St. Catherine Association and curator of the exhibition. Other art historians will also participate, including Diega Giunta, the leading specialist on artistic representations of St. Catherine.In his remarks Fr. Prella explained how, "in her writings, ... St. Catherine uses lively and audacious images to communicate the Truth that is Jesus Christ, freely addressing herself to everyone, to the humble and the great of the earth and of the Church. She firmly denounced the sins of the laity - and even more so those of monks, clergy and prelates - yet always offering everyone the hope of infinite divine mercy".COM-SH/ VIS 20111021 (580)

Friday, October 7, 2011

Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary

 This feast was instituted by the great Dominican pope, St. Pius V, on the anniversary of the naval victory by the Christian fleet under command of Don Juan of Austria over the Turks at Lepanto.  The victory was attributed to the help of Our Lady whose aid was invoked through the prayer of the rosary.  The battle itself has been immortalized in the classic poem Lepanto by G.K. Chesterton.   

New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia Entry
Lepanto by G.K. Chesterton (A YouTube Poetry Reading)

Ave Maria, Gratia Plena!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Of Gods and Men

This is an excellent film which examines the clash of Christian and Islamic ideologies from a different angle - within the gates of a Trappist monastery in a small village in Algeria.   The monks, who provide for the medical and spiritual needs of a nearby village, are confronted with the violence of an emerging civil war.  They must choose to flee or stay and face the violence.  The story is based on real world events in Algeria during the early 1990's.  It draws specifically from John Kizer's The Monks of Tibhirine: Faith, Love, and Terror in Algeria (St. Martins Press, 2002).

The pace of the film, which highlights the monastic life, makes for a very introspective diversion from the typical Hollywood feature.  From a Catholic perspective, the film addresses many issues regarding the strength of faith and love in this violent world.

The film is rated PG-13 for some violence and is available in English subtitles.  More complete information is available at the IMDB here.