With great joy and in a spirit of thanksgiving I wish to inform
the Priests and Brothers of the Institute of Charity,
the Rosminian Sisters of Providence,
the Ascribed, our friends, parishioners and pupils
of the upcoming Ceremony of Beatification of the Venerable Servant of God
After the publication of the decree on the miracle, granted by the Holy Father, Benedict XVI, the Postulator, as his normal right, sought an agreement with the Secretary of State of His Holiness in order to fix the date for the Ceremony.
In complete agreement with Father General, James Flynn, and Mother General, Carla Cattoretti, and after having informed His Excellency, the Reverend Monsignor Renato Corti, Bishop of Novara, (the Diocese in which the informative process was held) and therefore competent with regard to the new procedures enacted on the 29 September 2005 regarding the rite of beatification that “…it will come about in the cathedral of the diocese which has promoted the Cause of the new Beatus or another locality deemed suitable”, I can here announce:
THE CELEBRATION OF THE RITE OF THE BEATIFICATION
OF THE VENERABLE SERVANT OF GOD ANTONIO ROSMINI
WILL TAKE PLACE AT
SUNDAY 18 NOVEMBER 2007
THE REPRESENTATIVE OF THE HOLY FATHER WILL BE HIS EMINENCE
CARDINAL JOSČ SARAIVA MARTINS.
What actually is a Beatification?
Beatification is an administrative act of the Roman Pontiff with which a Servant of God is permitted to be publicly venerated, with the title of Blessed, in a region, city, diocese or religious family. This only occurs once the individual’s heroic virtues have been verified and a miracle attributed to his or her intercession.
Perhaps it would be useful to explain how the need for Beatification arose and developed in the Church; this might help us understand exactly what it is we are soon to celebrate.
The time taken from the introduction of a Cause to an eventual canonization is often greatly drawn out. Yet all the while many wish to honour publicly these Servants of God (those for whom a Canonization Cause, or process, has officially commenced) and to seek their intercession. Noting this desire of the faithful, the Roman Pontiffs from the XV century began to grant a kind of provisional permission to pay honour to some Servants of God, with the expectation that these would later be canonized. This category of Servants of God bear the title Blessed.
Pope Sixtus IV (1471-1484) is credited with having officially distinguished between the title of Blessed and that of Saint, and with having given the former a permanent juridical value. In 1483, in regard to the Augustinian hermit Giovanni Bono († 1249), he conceded: ut possit pro beato venerari donec aliud per nos, vel per sedem praedictam fuerit sollemniter ordinatum”[that he might be venerated as blessed until we or the aforesaid See solemnly order otherwise].
With Pope Paul V (1605–1621), beatifications became more common. In 1606 he permitted ad interim and in view of the canonization, the veneration of Salvatore da Orta; in 1609 of Margherita of Cittą del Castello; in 1618 of Thomas of Villanova and of Paschal Baylon; and in 1619 of Francis Xavier. His successors followed the same practice.
Over time, what began as a privilege became a necessity; a step prior to canonization.
1. Beatification: a journey towards Canonization
Beatification is a first step towards canonization. It is considered as such juridically in the new legislation, which directs the whole process towards Canonization. Consequently, while we give thanks to God for this momentous occasion we recognize that it is a beginning point not an end, a call to intensify our spiritual journey not just a one-off event. The beatification of the founder means that the Pope endorses his spirituality, and his charism, and declares solemnly that the witness to truth and love found in Antonio Rosmini is that of the Gospel and leads to Christ.
The variety of charisms and the multiplicity of journeys which lead to Christ enrich the Church greatly. We must be prepared to share, to explain, to live ours with renewed passion.
In all humility, allow me to suggest that our Father Founder can be proposed as an outstanding witness of extraordinary relevance for today: we think of his citation in John Paul II’s encyclical Fides et Ratio, and of Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclical Deus Caritas Est. On 12 March 2007 Pope Benedict pondered: “….perhaps I should write a new chapter of the Encyclical devoted to intellectual charity”. This would fit with the whole Rosminian vision which sees the unity of charity in a threefold form: material, intellectual, and spiritual.
2. The difference between Beatification and Canonization
Let us consider a few of the main differences between beatification and canonization.
a) Public honour can be paid to a Blessed (beatus/a) only in the places indicated in the Brief of beatification: “in locis et modis iure statutis” [in the places and ways established by law]. Normally permission is given to honour them in the Order or in the diocese to which the Blessed belongs.
b) A Blessed cannot be titular of a church or chapel, nor can an altar be consecrated to one, without the permission of the Holy See. While Can. 1218, § 3 does not expressly prohibit it in the way that canon 1168 § 3 of the CJC 1917 did, the liturgy prohibits it.
c) They cannot be chosen as Patrons without an indult from the Holy See.
d) Permission of the Holy See is required to include the feast of the Blessed in the calendar of the diocese or nation.
e) They can be portrayed with a halo but not a crown which is proper to the saints.
Canonization constitutes a “ factum dogmaticum [dogmatic act] and entails as a consequence:
a) The duty of all the faithful to consider as and call saints all those who have been canonized.
b) The saints are invoked publicly by the whole Church; it is not lawful to pray for them.
c) Churches and altars can be dedicated to them and they can be chosen as Patrons.
d) Mass can be celebrated and the divine office can be recited in honour of all the canonized saints.
e) Their images can be portrayed with rays and a crown.
f) Their relics can be exposed and venerated in all churches.
Let us give thanks to God, for having granted us the Venerable Servant of God Antonio Rosmini, who, exercising in a heroic way the Christian virtues, witnesses to us the great love of God the Father.
Father Claudio Massimilliano Papa, IC
(For the General Secretariat for the Beatification of Antonio Rosmini:
Msgr Charles Drennan