Monday, January 05, 2009

St. John Neumann and the Doctrine of the Immaculate Conception

(The following is excerpted from the book "A Bishop, A Saint: The Life of Saint John Neumann," by Father James J, Galvin, CSsR, published by The Neumann Press.)

"...St. Peter's [Basilica] was intensely quiet....Now, except for the sputter of candle-flames high in the arches, the only sound was one human voice reading in the singsong Latin. While Pio Nono [Blessed Pius IX] read, the basilica listened with a rapt excitement, waiting to hear expressed what all Christendom in its heart believed: that the Mother of the Redeemer has, by unique exception, entered time unbesmirched by Original Fault."

"Not since Trent has so many mitres assembled under one roof. Under the great cupola, two hundred members of the hierarchy clustered about Pio Nono. And still they came!...There were more bishops present than had assembled as Ephesus for the Council in the year 431."

"The voice had now trailed off to almost a whisper. Even the little prelate, holding the open book before the Pontiff's gaze, could hardly catch the words. Was Pio Nono so overcome with joy, the book-bearer wondered, that he could read on to the end? But gathering new strength, the feeble voice now rang clear again, reaching the far ends of the great church, soaring up into the very dome."
'We declare, we pronounce, we define that the doctrine that blessed Mary was, in the first instant of her Conception preserved...from all stain of original guilt has been revealed by God and therefore, must be firmly and constantly believed by all the faithful....'
"There. It had been infallibly spoken!"

"...Through one of the round windows high in Michelangelo's dome, a long shaft of sunlight had found the precious mitre, the tear-wet face of the Pope, flooding the ornately lettered document held open by one whose task that morning any cardinal present would gladly have performed. For this, Pio Nono had chosen not the oldest of his bishops, nor even the youngest but --- and who could say why -- the smallest. The five-foot-two Bishop of America's largest see [at that time], [Saint] John Neumann of Philadelphia.


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