The thousands of pilgrims who visit the tomb of the Venerable Father Dorniuic, at St. Anne's, Sutton, in Lancashire, and the many more thousands who are his clients, will find in a ceremony which took place on November 4 a Source of interest and a cause for joy.
Though in itself not a definite step forward, that ceremony is a reminder of the progress being made, and an encouragement to all who love the Servant of God to continue their prayers that God may he pleased to hasten Father Dominic's elevation to the honours of the Altar.
" Recognition " Ordered
On October 26 last year the Sacred Congregation of Rites, with the approval of the Pope, entrusted to the Archbishop of Liverpool the duty of seeing to the identification and examination of the remains of the holy Pa.ssiunist. Since that time many intricate and delicate negotiations and preparations for the occasion had been made. The preliminary Conferences for the " Recognition" — the ecclesiastical term for the ceremony were held in secret, as has been the Recognition itself, to avoid a concourse of people.
When it was agreed that all preparations were made, the date for actual Recognition was fixed for November 4. On that morniug the doors of the church—wherein are the crypt and tomb of Ven. Dominic—and to the sacristy, were locked and sealed. The Archbishop intoned the Vetzi Creator. In the sacristy various documents were read by MgrelameseRedmosici, D.,1?„ the Apostolic Notary for the Recognition. Mgr. T. Adamson assisted the Archbishop and the Rev. L. Curry was Master of Ceremonies.
The Witnesses At the instance of the Sub-Promoter of Faith, the Very Rev. A. McCurdy, D.D., the oaths were taken by the official witnesses, the doctors and workmen, that they would .faithfully discharge their respective functions. The witnesses were Fr. Brendan, C.P., Provincial, and Fr. Urban, C.P., well known as the Vice-Postulator of the Cause and the author of two books on Fr. Dominic and one on Fr. Ignatius Spencer, C.P.
Other Passionists present were Fr. Leo, Provincial Consultor, who directed the legal formalities; Fr. Joseph, Rector of St. Gabriel's Retreat, Ormskirk; Fr. Arthur, Rector of St. Anne's Retreat, to whom the Sacred Congregation has entrusted the care of the relics of Ven. Dominic; and Fr. Martin, who for several months has been the Vice-Postulator's Secretary for the various preliminary negotiations and conferences, and on this occasion was officially known as sacristan and responsible for the practical preparations.
The doctors, specialists in medical and surgical science, were Dr. Basil N. Murphy, president of the Liverpool Guild of SS. Cosmas and Damian; Mr. J. Begot Oldham, F.R.C.S.; and Dr. T. R. O'Keeffe. Dr. O'Brien represented the local Medical Officer of Health and the Home Office.
In the crypt, Mr. Ed. Hamilton and Mr. Ed. Borrows began the work of taking down the sarcophagus, in the presence of the above, until finally the black outer coffin was visible. Although, through time, the binding cords had Partly decayed, their seals were still tolerably clear.
The lid of the coffin was reverently removed. it was then discovered that the inner coffin had greatly decayed and fallen in, but beneath its remaining boards the retnains of the holy Passionist lay undisturbed. The ligaments had perished and the flesh had crumbled into dust. but the skeleton was perfect and its parts in position.
Owing to the danger to the remains which might result from attempting to transfer them, in the broken coffin, to the sacristy, as had been intended, His Grace instructed that their examination be made in the crypt.
The doctors enumerated, identified and transferred each bone to a white silkcovered " coffin-board," afterward e to be lowered into a new coffin. This new coffin of oak, with its brass crucifix and breastplate, was the work of Messrs. Fyans and Gordon, Manchester The lining, of white ecclesiastical silk, had been prepared by Miss A. Travers, Mrs. W. Fyans and Miss P. Fyans (Manchester), and finished by the Sisters of the Passionist Convent, Cutten. A zinc shell, made by Mr. A. Kerrigan, Manchester, lined the oak coffin, Mr. W. Fyans and Mr. A. Kerrigan took part in the Recognition.
The remains were lowered into the new coffin and covered with a white linen cloth and the Passionist habit (made by Mr. Jos. Kennan, St. Helens). The zinc calm was soldered, the oak lid screwed down and sealed, and Ven. Dominic's remains re-laid in the tomb.
Previous Steps Fr. Dominic died on August 27, 1849. In less than ten years he merited to be called " Servant of God." Witnesses were examined in Italy, Belgium and England, and after the usual investigation his reputation for sanctity and miracles was estabaished. His writings were collected and rigorously examined, and were found to contain increased evidence of extraordinary holiness and deep learning.
The Sacred Congregation of Riles having passed so favourable a judgment on • these things, Pius X, in 1911 permitted the introduction of the .A postolic Process. and conferred on Fr. Dominic the title of " Venerable."
The remaining stages towards Beatification include three sessions of the Sacred Congregation enquiring into the heroicity of the Ven. Servant of God's virtues in detail, and likewise three sessions to examine the individual miracles attributed`to his intercession. At the last of each of these three sessions, the Pope presides. On February 19 of this year, Pius XI ratified the favourable verdict of the Second (sometimes called the Preparatory) Session of the S.C.R. on the heroicity of Ven. Dominic's virtues.
Fr. Dominic's clients will increase their prayers that God may continue to bless and enlighten those who work for their Patron's Beatification, and that the Passionist Apostle, who was " broken by labours undertaken for the Conversion of England," may from Heaven rejoice to see the speedy fulfilment of his life's work and his soul's desire, and the people he loved yet call him " Blessed."