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The event of the Canonization

 

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Ten years on from the Canonization (II)

06/04/2009: General House

Very early on the morning of 18 April 1999, Marists from around the world, Fathers and Sisters, Brothers and lay people, co-workers and friends, young people and children, flocked towards Saint Peter’s Square, along with the pilgrims from two other religious families : 80.000, according to Vatican statistics. It was cool and threatening to rain, but in fact a generous sun shone throughout the canonization ceremony.

On the facade of Saint Peter’s, covered with scaffolding, were hanging the portraits of the three new saints: Saint Giovanni Calabria, on the left, Saint Marcellin in the centre, and Saint Agostina Petrantoni, on the right.

For us Marists, to see the portrait of the young Champagnat hanging from the scaffolding was very suggestive. Saint Marcellin had a familiar knowledge of stones, bricks, mortar, wood, he had spent a good part of his life building the Hermitage and the Marist family, in cutting the rock and shaping the brothers, in letting the Gier skirt the house and simplicity flow in the hearts of his sons. He knew how to dirty his hands and his soutane, he knew how to sweat. So many elements which flowed towards the very incarnational spirituality described in Water from the Rock.

How to describe the joy of all? One of the pilgrims describes his feelings: « At the height of the celebrations, I too prayed for vocations: religious, priestly, missionary, Marist, in a great explosion of thoughts and feelings. I felt myself part of a much greater, much purer, much higher reality. It was all too beautiful! While I was listening to the Brief of Canonisation of Marcellin Champagnat being read by the pope, I reviewed the life of the Saint, the life of a tireless man, an unsatisfied hunter of souls.… In the course of the celebration, the Holy Father, with voice trembling, brought together the figures of Mary, our Ordinary Resource, and Marcellin, glorified by the canonization. All present understood the sacred nature of this passage and all began to applaud and wave their handkerchiefs amidst emotion and tears. (Antonio Lunardon, 19 mai 1999, Famiglia du 06-06-1999)

John Paul II, in the canonization homily said: « The desire to give witness to Jesus flows in the hearts of believers from a personal encounter with Him. This what happened with the three new saints.… They opened their eyes to the signs of Christ’ presence, they adored him and loved him in the Eucharist, they loved him in their neediest brothers and sisters, they recognized the signs of his saving plan in the events of everyday life…».

The next day, the pope spoke to the Marist pilgrims:
« I am pleased to welcome you again, you who have come to celebrate the canonization of Marcellin Champagnat. Your presence shows your attention to this saint’s ever timely charism, which has attracted so many vocations… We can give thanks for the numerous disciples of Father Champagnat who faithfully fulfilled their mission even to the witness of martyrdom. We especially remember the eleven brothers, witnesses of truth and charity, who died tragically over the past five years in Algeria, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Hidden witnesses of hope, they join the very long martyrology of the Marist Brothers… »

___________
H. Giovanni Bigotto

Ten years on from the Canonization (I)

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