21 October 2021

Santissimo Redentore and Coronavirus

The Appendix pro aliquibus locis in the Altar Missal I use daily has a Mass for October 23 ... for our Most Holy Redeemer. In a couple of days' time, I think, I shall use it, not least because the particular devotion goes back to the Great Plague of Venice in 1576 ... which makes it ... you know what I mean ... topical for us in these fun days. 

There were terrible numbers of plague victims, and so the Doge and the Senate vowed that ... the rest of the story writes itself, doesn't it?

The main Festival in Venice with this title is, as I suspect many readers will know, celebrated on the Third Sunday of July. I believe that quite a lot still goes on, even though it is, I think, some years since the poor things had a Doge (Doge and Duce may to the etymologist be identical, but historically ...). In 1830, Pope Pius VIII marked his brief pontificate by extending the Feast to Rome itself, where it was to be observed on 23 October. Readers lucky enough to have a copy of the splendiferous Calendar published each year by the Redemptorist Community on Papa Stronsay, up near the North Pole, will have noticed that Santissimo Redentore is observed on the Third Sunday of July with greater solemnity, but also pops up on 23 October.

That Mass, like so many of the liturgical innovations of the Counter-Reformation, is full of exuberant joy in the wonders of our Redemption ... rather in the triumphalist spirit which animated Rubens' Triumph of the Eucharist. The Introit with which it begins, Gaudens gaudebo ... is from Isaias 61, and the psalmus of that Introit is the majestic, architectural, opening of Psalm 88: Misericordias Domini in aeternum cantabo: in generationem et generationem annuntiabo Veritatem tuam in ore meo. This psalmus is also  used in the Votive of the Passion, and in the Sarum (and Ordinariate) Mass of the Five Wounds. And it's there in the Mass of the Most Precious Blood ... and, I think, in a number of other Masses celebrating our Redeemer. (The Mercies of HWHY shall I sing for ever; unto generation and generation I shall proclaim thy MTh in my mouth.)

And the Offertorium, most suitably, is Salus populi ... I am the salvation/health of the people, from whatsoever tribulation they call upon me I will hear them; and I will be their God for ever: Alleluia!

A splendid pun!

The best response to Coronavirus would have been for this Nation to vow a great Neo-Palladian Basilica to our Beloved Saviour, to be built perhaps on the site of that bizarre monument to utter, crass, pointlessness, the "Millennium Dome".  

Tchaikovsky wrote something which could have been played in connection with its solemn Consecration! Just imagine the artillery at the Tower of London echoing down the River!


Joshua said...

I applaud your sentiments and your hopes, Father!

It seems to me that, based on precedents from earlier epidemics of pestilence, just such a plague church should be built as a votive offering to the Trinity, to avert God's wrath and implore his mercy, that the human race be delivered from the coronavirus pandemic.

I propose that a suitable structure would be a circular (or perhaps octagonal) church, consecrated to the Lord's Most Sacred Crown of Thorns.

Besides the High Altar, there would be fifteen side altars ringing the interior of the church, in honour of each of the following, all connected in some manner to the arising, averting, ameliorating, or enduring of plagues and pestilences: (1) Our Lady, Health of the Sick; (2) St Job, Patriarch; (3) St Moses, Prophet, & St Aaron, Priest; (4) St David, King & Prophet; (5) St Cyprian, Bishop & Martyr; (6) St Francis-Regis & St Jean-Gabriel, Martyrs of Wuhan; (7) the Martyrs of the Plague of Alexandria; (8) St Sebastian, Martyr; (9) St Victor & St Corona, Martyrs; (10) St Gregory the Great, Pope, Confessor & Doctor; (11) St Charles Borromeo, Bishop & Confessor; (12) St Bernard Tolomei, Abbot & Confessor; (13) St Roch, Confessor; (14) St Rosalia, Virgin; and (15) St Frances of Rome, Widow.

I envision a domed temple much like the Pantheon, with suitable altar paintings above and statuary surrounding each altar. The dome would be painted in trompe-lœil, depicting the triumph of Christ and his saints in heaven over the scourge of plague and pestilence. Running around the edge of the dome would be the words of the Alleluia verse from the traditional Roman Mass of the Crown of Thorns: “Corona tribulationis effloruit in corona gloriæ, et sertum exsultationis.”

Another possible choice - if the church be given into the care of the local Ordinariate - would be to use the first verse of that famous hymn, "The head that once was crowned with thorns / is crowned with glory now; / a royal diadem adorns / the mighty Victor's brow."

The Blessed Sacrament would be kept in either of two tabernacles - one on the High Altar, the other on the Lady Altar. The floor would be laid out with tiles forming a labyrinth. Beneath would lie the crypt (with confessionals, murals of the Four Last Things, and its own altar of the Holy Sepulchre, for private Requiems), through which access would be made to the sacristy and so forth; this crypt would be accessed by a long curving ramp leading up to the floor level of the church, to allow the clergy to enter and leave in procession.

The liturgical choir, the organ – where would these best be placed?

Any ideas on fundraising?

Grant Milburn said...

"Tchaikovsky wrote something which could have been played in connection with its solemn Consecration!"
Me: Umm, the Hymn of the Cherubim...or his complete setting of the Divine Liturgy?
"Just imagine the artillery at the Tower of London echoing down the River!"
Me: Oh that one...err, yes, that would work too...

Fr Scott Bailey, C.Ss.R. said...

We Redemptorists also had a third festival in honor of the Most Holy Redeemer kept in February, or so I’ve been told.