31 October 2023

The Pontiff and the Painter and Parta humano generi

As he composed his teaching document for October in the year 1901, Pope Leo XIII clearly felt that something had been achieved. After a pontificate in which he had each year issued a document encouraging the use of the Holy Rosary, in preparation annually for the Rosary month of October, "grato et iucundo perfundimur consolationis sensu"! His Holiness had a feeling, in September 1901, that the Rosary was, indeed, being used more and more.

And Leo XIII had objective evidence for this feeling. The Bishop of Tarbes, which had Lourdes within its boundaries, was creating a great Rosary Basilica in which each of the Fifteen Mysteries was to have an altar in its honour. 

Pope Leo was a clever and an able man. And a man of charm. The moment at which, in his nineties, he writes Parta humano generi is almost exactly the time when Philip de Laszlo painted the spectacular 'Budapest' portrait of the pontiff, which was such a triumph when it visited London in 2004: the quietly gracious smile; the long fingers in thoughtful repose; the penetrating black eyes. (It was to be awarded the Grand Gold Medal at the Paris International Exhibition in 1900.) De Laszlo records some of the topics about which the Pontiff discoursed during the sittings: " a great variety of subjects: political, religious, social, artistic and scientific questions, and also about Hungary ... I can say I have never met a man whose innermost feelings were revealed so expressively, and who would be more deserving a model to be studied by an artist."

How much more fortunate are some epochs, in their Roman Pontiffs, than others are!

Surely, we must sympathise with the Pope Leo's enthusiastic engagement with the Most Holy Rosary. Anybody, but especially those of us brought up on the magic of Fr Hope Patten's Anglican Shrine at Walsingham, which also possessed its fifeen altars for its fifteen mysteries, must feel our loss of the Rosary orientation in the present Catholic set-up. If that great barn of a 'Chapel of Reconciliation' were to be broken up by, perhaps, the insertion of internal screens, a design providing places for Fifteen Altars for fifteen simultaneous private Masses offered by fifteen priests, would not be beyond the wit of man, or of woman.

Pope Leo rejoiced, in 1901, that there were so many more Rosary sodalities, so much more Marian piety. But there were clouds, he reveals, even on his horizon. In the Pyrenaean passes where S Dominic had set the 'prima incunabula sancti Rosarii', there is a new ... Albigensian heresy! A 'Perniciosa lues [contagious disease]'. It has simply changed its name! "serpitque iterum per eas regiones" Yes; 'serpit' does mean what it sounds like! This new Albigensian heresy 'infects with the foulness of contagion and contaminates Christian peoples, dragging them to wretched disaster'. Surely, he feels, our Lady will smash, cut off, the multiple necks of the wicked hydra [remember that Leo XIII, Papa Pecci, was a classicist; author of Office hymns including O lux; Sacra iam.] which was prowling round all of Europe ...

Whom did Pope Leo, in the year 1901, have in mind? Was there really a revival of Albigensianism? Or did he mean Modernism? Or did he have in mind the laicite of his contemporary France (he mentions the persecution of the religious orders)? 

For us in our own time, it is not difficult to fill in such gaps. In modern European Society, we have so many Hydra's Heads ... of transgenderism and of self-devised identies and of sexual promiscuity and so much else ... actually encouraged. Within the Church herself, there are the sick and sickly disorders of Bergoglianism.

Here be Hydras-a-plenty! Surely, part of the answer should be Rosaries-a-plenty! The incisive blade of the Sharp Lady who "cunctas haereses sola interimit in universo mundo" ... that's what the Rosary truly is!


Arthur Gallagher said...

Back when we had Popes who did not think that they were smarter than Our Lady. I will never get over the insolent boldness of JPII in promulgating the "luminous" mysteries.

Simple Simon said...

Arthur, I suggest that rather than insolent boldness, JP11 acted out of a deep love of Our Lady and the Rosary. I have never felt any unease or disquiet after praying the luminous mysteries.
Fr.H Rosaries aplenty are already in place. Millions of families who love our Lady pray the Rosary daily. At Medugorge (so I believe) our Blessed Mother has laid out for us the way of complete victory over all the agents of a new religon. She tell us that the main message of Medugorge is that she is present, active in the battle, on a daily basis. Her first apparition took place on the feast of St.John the Baptist. She announced herself as the Queen of peace. She alerts us to the reality of Satan's plan to destroy the faith. She invites us to join the battle for the heart and soul of the Church.
She lays out her requests for her children:

Consecrate your heart to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and to her Immaculate heart.
Go to confession at least once a month.
Come to Mass early to prepare properly, and spend
some time making a heartfelt thanksgiving.
Fast on bread and water every Wednesay and Friday.
Pray the whole Rosary daily.
Pray for those who do not believe.
Pray unceasingly for Bishops and priests.
Remain joyful even times of great trial.

Message of May 25 2004:
"Dear children! Also today,I urge you to consecrate yourselves to my Heart and to the Heart of my Son Jesus. Only in this way will you be mine more each day and you will inspire each other all the more to holiness. In this way joy will rule your hearts and you will be carriers of peace and love. Thank you for having responded to my call."

Pulex said...

Oh, Father, the headline was a clickbait indeed. "The Pontiff and the Painter..." I was sure that the post will contain the latest about Francis and Fr. Rupnik.

Patrick said...

Arthur, I think the Luminous Mysteries are organic developments, rather than destructive. In the document in which they are introduced, the pope used language such as this:
- "A proposed addition to the traditional pattern"
- "left to the freedom of individuals and communities"
- "could broaden it to include the mysteries of Christ's public ministry between his Baptism and his Passion" ("could")
They are optional. I think it is important to maintain a distinction between the core, traditional mysteries and the Luminous. With the addition of the Luminous, the triune thesis -> antithesis -> synthesis (this is not something I think Hegel invented, it's older than that) structure may be disrupted, but only if you consider Luminous on the same level as the Traditional Mysteries which I don't believe was the pope's intention. Since there are seven days in the week, the traditional sequence was to pray the Joyful Mysteries on Thursday, which gave an unsymmetrical allocation, thrice instead of twice per week (as with Sorrowful and Glorious). Praying instead the Luminous Mysteries on Thursday gives two traditional mysteries per week, and only one new, therefore keeping the status of the Luminous as lesser, and also introducing a symmetry into the traditional mysteries. Additionally, it is fitting that the Luminous be prayed on Thursday, as the final mystery thereof is the Institution of the Most Holy Eucharist which occurred on Holy Thursday. Of course, as the pope himself stated, this is all completely optional.