Monday, February 20, 2006

My most excellent readers...

... very kindly helped me answer the question posed here:
Random Question: Does anyone know why Bl. Pius IX and Leo XIII chose to be buried in S. Lorenzo and at the Lateran respectively? The Popes immediately beforehand and after are all buried in St Peter's and one would have thought that the political climate of the time would have made St Peter's the obvious choice.
(An attempt was made by a Roman mob to fling the body of Pius IX into the Tiber as it was transported to S. Lorenzo. It is said that an international group of seminarians fought off the mob and the Pope's remians safely made their way to their resting place.)
I received an e-mail from a Professor Adams who says:
In partial answer to your query about the tomb of Pius IX at S. Lorenzo:
In the mid-nineteenth century, there were two partially ruined small basilicas next to one another. Pius had them converted into one (hence the odd articulation between the nave and choir and the two styles). The western basilica became the nave with the narthex on the Piazza, and the eastern one, which lost its apse, no longer needed a narthex. Pius reserved the narthex space for the tomb that is the subject of your posting. He also had the column in the piazza erected.
There are medals commemorating these expensive undertakings. I have one of them in my collection, and it is on my web site:
The whole collection is at
Do check out that website - there are some wonderful images of Papal and Sede Vacante medals. Particularly of interest are these 2005 Sede Vacante issues. I regret to say that in my opinion the site also shows that for all his virtues, Paul VI had a poor sense of the aesthetic.
And in the comments box, Msgr. Edward Ryan notes:
Leo XIII, I believe, chose the Lateran Basilica as his final resting place because he had presided over the re-builing of the apse. Pius may have chosen St. Lawrence-Ottside-the Walls precisely to be out of the Vatican. In death, if not in later life, he would not be imprisoned. It was, I believe, several months after Pius' death that the attempt to transport his body was made in the dead of night. Even then the procession incited a riot. In accord with St. Lawrence, Pius XII left the Vatican to visit it when it was bombed during the War. Some say it was because his parents were buried in the cemetery adjacent to the basilica which was also bombed.
Msgr, I think you're quite right about Pius XII and IIRC his family tomb was destroyed in the San Lorenzo bombing. Pius XII's visit to San Lorenzo in the aftermath of the bombardment was greatly appreciated by the Roman people. The following monument to Pius XII is in the porch of San Lorenzo.
In the news...
This story from the Telegraph highlights the continuing absurdity of the Anglican compromise regarding women priests.
A senior figure in the Church of England yesterday defended a village that has refused to appoint a woman priest.
Barsham, in Suffolk, has vetoed the idea of a woman in the pulpit for the church in their joint parish of Bungay.
The parochial church council decided it did not want a woman and the vacancy is advertised for male priests only.
The Ven Geoffrey Arrand, the Archdeacon of Suffolk, defended the parish's right to take the decision, but said he did not necessarily agree with it.
"I understand why they are doing it, but that is not the same thing as saying I agree with them," he said.
"They are perfectly within their rights to take this decision because when it was decided that women could be ordained to priesthood in 1993 safeguards were put in place for those who could not accept this decision.
"This is either because in particular interpretations of the scripture, in various places, it is indicated that women should know their place.
"Others believe that the Church of England should wait until the whole Church has women priests and have no right to go ahead on their own.
"I would disagree with both these views, but that is where some people come at it from and therefore we have to safeguard their position."
He added: "The Church of England always tries to be a Church that is inclusive and welcomes as many people as possible."
I should make it clear the real absurdity of the situation is not that there are women priests. I think that adopting that position drags them even further away from the tradition and orthdox doctrine. However, as a protestant body it is quite understandable that they should interpret the rights of women as permitting female ordination. What is inexplicable is that they should permit what should seem to their lights (not mine!) little pockets of bigotry who can refuse the ministry of a woman priest. It smacks of a decided lack of conviction and commitment to the truth.
The Corriere has a great picture from the Indian Rural Olympic Games.
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