July 20 – CANONISATION OF MONTFORT
CANONISATION OF MONTFORT
“We desire”, wrote Br. Anastase in his circular dated 19 March 1947, “the Roman celebrations to bring together a number of participants from our side: our pupils, both former and present, our families and their families, those who appreciate our works”. The number of Brothers exceeded by far the small delegation that had come to Rome for the beatification of Montfort in 1888: besides those of Italy, there were about thirty from France as well as representatives of all the Provinces. Sunday 20 July, from the various rows of seats they occupied in St Peter’s basilica, except that of the pos tulator, they could follow the lavish and complicated rites of a canonisation of the time.
Cardinal Salotti moved towards the papal throne followed by the consistorial advocate, who in his name pronounced the supplication to the Holy Father, a first time, instanter (with authority), and the Pope knelt down with the audience to recite the litany of saints; a second time, instantius (with greater authority), and the Pope prayed once more and started the . Veni Creator Spiritus; finally instantissime (with greatest authority) and this time the prelate secretary responded in the name of the Pope: “May France, so fertile in saints both men and women, exult with happiness! May the whole Catholic Church also rejoice at the precise moment when the August Pontiff will be conferring the crown of saints to the Blessed Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort”. The assembly stood up, while the Pope, seated on the high throne and wearing his tiara, pronounced the infallible sentence. The whole audience applauded. Standing up, the Pope started the Te Deum. The great bells of the basilica broke out in music and all the churches of Rome responded to them. The Pope pronounced a brief homily in Latin and gave his blessing. The Mass could then begin. At the offertory were brought, following an ancient ceremony, five painted candles, two big loaves of bread, one covered in gold and the other in silver, a golden barrel and a silver barrel of wine, a cage with two turtledoves and another with two doves and a third with various small birds. The praises of the new saint were pronounced the next day by Pius XII in the course of a public audience of 6000 persons. “All that he told us, we know it all”, wrote Br. Gabriel-Marie, “but on the lips of the Sovereign Pontiff, we see it all taking a sacred sense, and the face he described as ‘shining’ has truly and without danger of illusion . become ‘shining’ for our hearts”.
In September 1947, at Saint-Laurent, the celebrations lasted for thiee days. On the vastest square of the little city, 3000 children were gathered on Friday 13, as many young girls the next day, and, on Sunday 14 about 40,000 people, under a warmly bright sun that did not prevent bishop Chiron, of Langres, to extol the “Knight of the Virgin” for 90 mii:mtes! In the afternoon a procession of two hours wound through the city streets and St Gabriel campus.
To commemorate the souvenir of the canonisation, a statue of Montfort sculpted by Parisini was placed in the gallery of founders, which adorns the interior of St Peter’s basilica in Rome. Weighing 14 tons and 18 m in height, three hours were needed on 31 July 1948 to place it in its niche on top of the second large pillar on the left of the central nave.