Thursday, June 18, 2015

All Kinds of Saints

Author and essayist Joseph Bottum (formerly of First Things) writes about sanctity for Aleteia, particularly the sanctity of today's saint, Gregory Barbarigo, whose feast was removed from the Roman Calendar in 1969:

Work is not exactly made holy when done with awareness of Christ. It’s the worker, rather, who aims toward sanctification by working with God. The dignity of work is actually the dignity of the worker, who is both laboring and being with God.

All this was prompted in my mind by St. Gregory Barbarigo, whose feast day is June 18—today: a day perhaps for thinking about work. A powerful seventeenth-century cardinal from Venice, St. Gregory might be, in a sense, the most likely kind of saint: From the Renaissance to the early twentieth century, the Vatican’s official canonizations ran to a large number of Italian churchmen.

Of course, in another sense, he was an unlikely saint—a nobleman in the days of unchecked nobility. An advisor to Pope Alexander VII in the days of unapologetic Vatican nepotism. A political mover and shaker in the days when too many senior positions in the Church were considered the permanent fiefdoms of the noble Italian families, as they played the local form of Game of Thrones in their Italian principalities. Even today, it’s hard for a senior churchman to find the time, the energy, and the grace for personal sanctity in the endless press of the business at hand. But in the days of St. Gregory Barbarigo, the temptations—the lures of temporal power offered by the Church—were far greater and harder to resist.

To think about St. Gregory is to realize that you know this man—or, at least, you’ve read a profile of people of his kind in a business magazine or a Sunday newspaper supplement. He’s that senior bureaucrat the government needs regardless of the party of the president. He’s that CFO making a major corporation succeed. He’s your college president, your governor’s friend, your church’s major donor. Polished, important, organized, multi-talented, standing behind the scenes, he gives off an air that’s hard to describe, except perhaps with the word competent. A proficient man, an efficient man. A fixer.

Read the rest there. St. Gregory may have been removed from the Roman Calendar, but he is being celebrated today in Maryville, Missouri at the parish dedicated to him and there are Catholic schools and parishes dedicated to him in Houma, Louisiana and Garnerville, New York. St. Gregory's story reminds me of St. Francis Borgia, an unlikely saint from most unlikely circumstances--a Borgia saint.

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