THE last Apostolic letter of Pope Pius XII, published on Friday in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis, was addressed to the Cardinal Patriarch of Venice, Cardinal Roncalli, now Pope John XXIII.
The letter granted an application which had been made by the Cardinal proclaiming Our Lady Help of Christians as patron of the Isle of San Giorgio in Venice.
The same custom, which recalls the days when Greek was the language of the common people of Rome, was followed for the chanting of the Gospel.
After the Gospel, unexpectedly it would seem, as the TV commentator announced the singing of the Credo, Pope John XXIII read in Latin to Cardinals, bishops and people a homily in which he confessed his own unworthiness compared with his predecessor and praised the virtues of St. Charles Borromeo. Cardinal-Archbishop of Milan, whose feast it was and whose life he had written in six volumes.
According to the ancient custom, the Cardinal Sacristan of St. Peter's tasted at the High Altar one of the altar-breads before the Offertory, lest they be poisoned.
The Mass proceeded as usual until the solemn moment of consecration. A moment before, the silence of the immense church was broken as the Noble Guards fell to one knee, presenting arms and the Holy Father slowly raised the consecrated Host. as the silver trumpets played.
Slowly. the Pope presented the Host as he turned, first to one side and then to the other.
Similarly with the Precious Blood in the rich chalice.
Outside the Basilica, all the church-bells of Rome rang out in salute. It was an unforgettable moment of muted solemnity within the Basilica itself.
The kiss of peace, after the Agnus Del, was passed on by the Cardinal Dean, Cardinal Tisserant, to the Cardinals and prelates in their stalls.
The Holy Father received Holy Communion at the throne, carried by the Cardinal-Deacon on a paten down the altar steps and up to the throne. There the Pope received the Blessed Sacrament under both kinds, as the choir sang the Adoro Te devote.
The Papal Blessing, no different in ritual from any episcopal blessing, was given facing the people and therefore without turning. Afterwards token money was distributed, following an ancient custom, to the choir in gratitude for a Mass well sung.
For the last time the procession was formed to leave the Basilica, the tiara of Pius IX being carried for the ceremony of coronation on the balcony of St. Peter.
As the Holy Father, carried in the sedia, came before the people, once again he was loudly acclaimed —an acclaim which he greeted with kindly smiles and blessings. The trumpets rang out once again, continuing to play until the Pope was carried out of the Basilica, and through the great doors leading to the royal steps in the Vatican Palace.
Outside the Basilica the Cardinals and prelates waited for the reappearance of the Pontiff on the Balcony. Behind them Palatine guards and serried ranks of Italian troops, allowed in St. Peter's Square by privilege, were drawn up; and behind them the mass of the people, less in number than usual—a fact attributed to the number who watched the ceremony by television. Normally, even the dullest weather would not have kept them away. Even within the Basilica, a placard with the word "Venezia" was to be seen Many more were among the crowds outside.
Not many minutes later the Pope was to be seen on the balcony, wearing again the precious mitre, seated on his throne between the ostrich fans in front of a draping covered with fleur-de-lys. A choir was chanting an ancient hymn. Cardinal Tisserant then rose to sing a prayer for the Holy Father. Then Cardinal Canal', senior Cardinal Deacon, having removed his own skull cap and taken off the Holy Father's mitre, quietly imposed the triple crown on the Pontiff's head, while the crowds shouted "Viva! Viva!"
The crowned Pope rose, hands joined. and chanted a prayer to the Apostles to intercede with God for him.
Then he sang the words of Absolution and Indulgence.
The final moment was that of the Papal blessing Urhi et Orbi, the Pope's voice remaining as firm and strong as ever, the crowd acclaiming and shouting their approval with tremendous enthusiasm.
It was just after one o'clock Roman time and midday British time. The Pope in granting the Plenary Indulgence included those watching and listening on radio and television.
Then stepping forward, he smiled and waved for a while to the cheering people. The four hours of enormously fatiguing ceremony seemed to leave him fresh, though there were signs of tiredness in his Last brief blessings to the people.
House of studies
Archbishop McQuaid of Dublin last week blessed the new Dublin house of studies of the Mill Hill Fathers and presided at Mass celebrated by the congregation's Superior General. Fr. Thomas McLaughlin. Formerly the congregation's philosophy students used to go to the Netherlands for their studies.