Apr 25, 2013

A little personal Papal trivia:

It isn't often that we think of Popes from the distant past.  On a pilgrimage to Oberammergau for the famed Passion Play in 2010, our group stopped for one of the daily Masses at a Church in Austria. When I entered the sacristy I found a very friendly, moderately English speaking sacristan, who knew we were coming and had placed out vestments that were very similar to what I normally where here at the parish. 

I was a bit disappointed since I was hoping that he might be able to provide something more in keeping with the style of the Church itself.  I asked if he might have something "older."  He paused, smiled and walked over to a large closet which he opened to reveal vestments from an earlier time.  He raised his finger and said, "I have just the thing."  Then he handed me a white, fiddle back style stole and chasuble and said, "This was worn by Pope Pius VI when he traveled through this area, was on retreat and stopped at this Church to celebrate Mass." I noticed at the bottom of the chasuble was the papal coat of arms embroidered into the material, which convinced me he was telling the truth. 

I was stunned to say the least at not only the "out of the blue" honor to wear a papal vestment but then jokingly said, "I hope he was one of the good Popes."  Well, when returning home I discovered he was Pope during the American revolution for Independence.  He was on the Papal throne in 1776.  Could there have been a more proper vestment for an American priest to wear? 

So, I vested for Mass, went out to begin and joined our group.  In spirit at least, upon my shoulders, was Pope Pius VI - and George Washington?

I ran across an interesting story comparing our present Holy Father Pope Francis to Pope Pius V, the Pope of the Council of Trent and a great reformer, humble and holy.  This article brought to mind my "meeting" with Pope Pius VI which I described above. 

So goes our Catholic world indeed. 

Pope Francis I
(2013 - )
Pope Pius V
(1566 - 1572)
Two Pope's of reform: