Fr John Kearns, the Provincial of the Congregation of the Passion of Jesus Christ in England and Wales wrote on the legacy of Blessed Dominic Barberi in The Catholic Herald as the Passionists recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of the beatification of Blessed Dominic by Pope Paul VI:
Blessed Dominic is remembered by many Catholics simply as the priest who received Blessed John Henry Newman into the Church. But he was far more than that: during Dominic’s Mass of beatification on October 27 1963 Pope Paul VI noted that he had “more than one claim to outstanding merit”, that he was a theologian, a philosopher, and had anticipated elements of the First Vatican Council.
Years earlier, in 1926, Cardinal Francis Bourne of Westminster had been even more effusive. “Of all the preachers of the divine Word who have worked for the salvation of souls in England,” the cardinal wrote, “there is no one, in our opinion, to whom we are more indebted than the Servant of God, Dominic of the Mother of God. I should consider myself happy if I had the power and right to dedicate this whole diocese to his care and protection, and be allowed to honour him as our patron and protector of England.”
Dominic’s encounter with Newman at Littlemore in Oxfordshire, in October 1845, may perhaps be only a small part of his story, but it is important nevertheless. This is because Newman himself tells us that he entered the Catholic Church precisely at that moment because of the supernatural qualities he recognised instantly in the Italian missionary. “When his form came into sight, I was moved to the depths in the strangest way,” he wrote years later. “His very look had about it something holy.” Church scholars today acknowledge that the sanctity of Blessed Dominic confirmed for Newman what he had come to believe intellectually about the Catholic faith.
Father Kearns also points out that:
It is surely no accident that Dominic Barberi was beatified during the Second Vatican Council. One of the Council’s themes was to prepare the Church for effective mission in the modern world, as noted by Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham, during a recent Mass at Dominic’s tomb in St Helens. Archbishop Longley said that Blessed Dominic provides us with a great model for such mission. For that reason he was named by the archdiocese as a patron of the Year of Faith, inaugurated to mark the 50th anniversary of the Council.
Blessed Dominic’s example first and foremost represents a call to holiness. It is this witness of life, this experience of goodness, that attracts people to Christ above all else. For us, it means interior conversion, a theme constantly proposed by Pope Francis: to heal, to bring Christ to others, we must ourselves first be holy.
Note that the cause for Blessed Dominic's canonization is active, and in fact has been renewed by the Archdiocese of Birmingham!
Catholics are being asked to pray for the intercession of Blessed Dominic Barberi in the hope that the second miracle needed for his canonisation might soon be found. . . .
Passionist Fr Benedict Lodge, postulator of Blessed Dominic’s Cause for Canonisation, has appealed for prayers for miracles at the intercession of the Italian missionary at a time when his life will be remembered.
He said that several reports of alleged miraculous healings at the intercession of Blessed Dominic have fallen short of the rigorous criteria applied by theologians and medics and none is at present under investigation.
“What better way to both celebrate the 50th anniversary of the beatification of Blessed Dominic and the Year of Faith than to find the miracle that would lead to the canonisation of this great man who did so much to enkindle the Catholic faith in this country?” said Fr Lodge.