20 May 2022

Dom Gueranger ... exultant!! (2) Three Cheers for that Flaminian Gate!!!

 Pope Pius VII began his Pontificate in 1800 at Venice, where the Conclave met after the death in captivity of Pope Pius VI (they crowned their new pope with a papier mache tiara ... it would, surely, show both style and wit if that piece of gear were yanked out of the Papal Treasury and used at the next "Inauguration of the Petrine Ministry"). Pius VII tried to coexist with the Enlightened Corsican; but in 1809 he was arrested and imprisoned. As Gueranger puts it with Gallic melodrama, he was "dragged [away], during the night, by the soldiers of an ambitious tyrant". 

Regular and sympathetic readers of this blog will be intrigued by the word I have marked in red in my next quotation from Gueranger: "He had been a captive for five years, during which the spiritual government of the Christian world had suffered a total suspension." Ahaa! (arcta custodia ... viis omnibus penitus interclusis, ne Dei Ecclesiam regere posset ...)

Towards the end of 1813, Napoleon had agreed to the return of the Pope to Rome. Pius VII took his time; indeed, he turned the event into a triumphant progress, moving in short stages to receive the plaudits of armies and potentates. 

Did I write "triumphant"?

Indeed: "As the triumphal chariot, on which he had been placed, came near the Flaminian Gate, the horses were unyoked, and the Pontiff was conveyed by the people to the Vatican Basilica, where a solemn thanksgiving was made, over the Tomb of the Prince of the Apostles." How the Grilli of that time must have enjoyed fixing all the tiniest liturgical details! I wonder if they made this triumphator paint his face red!

So Papa Chiaramonti goes down in History ... I like to think ... as the last person to enter the Eternal City as a Triumphator. "Io Io Triumphe!!!" This happened on 24 May 1814.

To celebrate it, and to mark such a happy day, the Feast of our Lady Help of Christians was instituted. Gueranger is a little irritated to have to admit that the Feast is not of universal observance; it is in aliquibus locis. But I guarantee you that his pages covering May 24 are among the most gloriously triumphant and triumphalist in all the sheets that ever the learned Benedictine penned.

(In the old Calendar for England [granted when?], the Feast appears as a duplex maius. In the differentiated Calendars for each individual diocese which came later [when?], only Shrewsbury and Menevia retained it.

The Office Hymns, in the Sapphic metre, reveal that the SRE Hymnographi [who?] did not resist the temptation afforded by the adonius Urbis et Orbis; and, like the Augustan poets of ancient Rome, were not averse to making pius square up against scelestus. 

I wonder exactly what French term Gueranger used for Suspension.)


Deimater said...

« Il sort d'une captivité de cinq années, durant lesquelles le gouvernement spirituel de la chrétienté a été totalement suspendu. »

armyarty said...

Napoleon Bonaparte is an outstanding example of the hidden power of intercessory prayer, and the tremendous value of suffering. The world esteemed L'Empereur as the greatest of men- Yet that greatness consisted of vast human suffering and death caused by him, garnished with a thin veneer of cheap tinsel.

Hell would have swallowed him for sure, except for one thing: His mother would not stop praying for him, and many others prayed for him as well.

Had Napoleon I died peacefully in his palace, or perished in a vainglorious burst of martial splendor upon the field of battle, his soul may well have been lost. Yet, he died in utter humiliation, in perhaps the most inaccessible place on the face of the earth, the constant victim of petty humiliations. This same man who, in a supreme act of hubris, placed the crown upon his own head, was the same man who came to esteem the irreligious as fools, and who said that the happiest day of his life was the day of his First Holy Communion.

He is, perhaps, numbered among the elect. We cannot know. But, I suspect that he is.

Pray for yourself, but, more importantly, pray for others, and accept your suffering as a gift from God.

Aegidius said...

But did he have an acolyte in the chariot whispering in his ear "Remember that you are but mortal"

Grant Milburn said...

It was pleasant to learn from Wikipedia that the release and triumphant return to Rome of Papa Chiaramonti coincided with the premieres of Beethoven's cheerful 7th and 8th symphonies.

The 7th had its premiere on 8th December 1813 at a charity concert for soldiers wounded in the Battle of Hanau. By this time Beethoven had left his youthful admiration of Napoleon far behind, and the concert included a patriotic piece exalting the victory of the Duke of Wellington over the Corsican.

Grant Milburn said...

In a traditional papal coronation, the magnificent procession would be stopped three times, and a barefoot monk would burn a bundle of flax to ashes before the eyes of the Pontiff, while exclaiming "Holy Father, sic transit gloria mundi." This keeps the Pontiff 'umble, a quality once valued in a Pope. I don't know if that ceremony was included in the coronation with the mashed paper tiara.

Moritz Gruber said...

Speaking of Napoleon Bonaparte,

he was banished to St. Helena by the orders of the Congress of Vienna. His family wasn't, though.

They went straight to Rome, the Pope was sort of like "hey, I've seen you before", and with only very little simplification, lived happily ever after until the end of their days. Cardinal Fesch, his uncle, had probably not too hard clerical life, collected art and, when he said Mass (I don't know how often he did) did so as the Archbishop of Lyons and Primate of the Gauls; he was never deposed from either that post or the Cardinalate. Paolina Borghese née Buonaparte, Napoleon's sister, was a celebrated beauty in Rome's fashionable society, and sat as model for a sculpture of Venus celebrated to this day.

What a glory of the Papacy. I do not mean it in irony.