On 4 June 1944, Rome was liberated (I'm not quite sure which regiment of the British Army achieved this ... probably the Honourable Artillery Company). Immediately, some enterprising cleric at the Church of S Maria in Porticu clearly got to work and produced, in English ("To the Catholics of England"), a tiny booklet about the prayers for the Conversion of England customary in that Church. It bears the Imprimi potest of Joseph Forcellati, Rector Generalis, Romae, 17 iulii 1944.
It explains that our late Sovereign liege Lord King Henry IX, King (by the Grace of God) of England, Scotland, France, and Ireland, when he was merely His Royal Highness the Duke of York, was created a Cardinal by Pope Benedict XIV, 5 July 1747 (less than a year after the return of HRH the Prince Regent from 'the '45'), and was assigned the Diaconal Title of this Church (raised the following year to a Presbyteral Title). The booklet goes on to inform us that he had a great devotion to our Lady under this title; and enacted that her feast be celebrated with the sumptousness of Sacred Music, the richness of Sacred Vestments and Altar Ornaments, and with the splendour of Church liturgy. Then, with the use of inverted commas but without any indication who or what is being quoted, it goes on
"' he endowed the Shrine with a perpetual legacy for the celebration of a Mass on every Saturday, at 11.00 a.m., followed by Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, and the offering of prayers for the return of the separatist brethren of England to the Catholic Church, the true Flock'".
Incidentally, the Feast of our Lady in Porticu is in the old Supplementum for England and Wales as to be observed in Wales on July 17 with the Mass Quae est ista. What is the Welsh connexion?
It seems to me endearing that His Majesty, embarking upon an ecclesiastical career after the failure of arms, lacking now any power to assist their bodies, was yet mindful of the souls of the people of this Kingdom.
After recording that Pope Leo XIII presided over a triduum in this Church in 1868, the panphlet gives the texts of two prayers, without indicating whether either or both was composed by His Most Eminent Majesty, Defender of the Faith, or by His Holiness.
It would be jolly to get some light on this.
The first prayer begins "O Holy Virgin Mary, thou who hast for so many centuries revealed to our souls the sweet attraction of Divine Maternity ..."
The second begins "Give thy servants, o Lord, your [sic] celestial help ..."
It offers this invocation:
Romanae Portus Securitatis, Ora pro nobis.
Did you know that His Majesty participated in the Consecration of the eventual Clement XIV, the pope who suppressed the Jesuits? Small world!