Friday, February 21, 2020

Preview: 100th Anniversaries for Sts. John of Arc and John Paul II

On Monday, February 24, I'll talk with either Matt Swaim (it might be his turn!) or Anna Mitchell about another set of anniversaries to be remembered in 2020: the 100th anniversary of the Canonization of St. Joan of Arc and the 100th anniversary of the birth of Karol Wojtyla, the future Pope John Paul II, now Pope St. John Paul II.

Both saints are national heroes: St. Joan of Arc in France; St. John Paul II in Poland.

The City of Rouen, where Joan of Arc was tried, convicted, condemned, and burned to death on May 30, 1431 is celebrating the 100th anniversary of her canonization with many events in this Year of Joan of Arc. Orleans, France, which she liberated on May 8, 1429, celebrates her every year with a festival from April 28 to May 8, but is also commemorating the anniversary, as is New Orleans, Louisiana, including a new production of Tchaikovsky's opera! In typical secular fashion, New Orleans celebrates its patron saint on her birthday, not her feast day.

Joan of Arc had been condemned as a heretic by a pro-English ecclesiastical court in 1431; a rehabilitation trial was held in Paris and she was declared innocent of all the charges on July 7, 1456. Her trial in Rouen had violated Canon Law in many ways: Joan's appeals to the Pope had been ignored; she'd not been held in the custody of cloistered nuns as she should have been, etc. Her mother was still alive and saw her daughter vindicated.

She was beatified in Rome on April 18, 1909 by Pope Saint Pius X; Pope Benedict XV issued his Papal Bull Divina Disponente and she was canonized in Rome on May 16, 1920. In the document, the pope refers to the evils of the First World War from which France was still recovering in 1920. The Treaty of Versailles had just come into effect; images of Joan of Arc had been carried into the trenches; the churches throughout France, the names of the dead from that war are inscribed in chapels, often with a statue of St. Joan of Arc near them. Her canonization was a great event for the French people, even after the official separation of Church and State in 1905.

The centenary of Pope St. John Paul II's birth as Karol Wojtyla on May 18, 1920 is being celebrated in Poland with great rejoicing and prayer: a nine month national novena was begun in 2019:

On the occasion of the upcoming 100th anniversary of the birth of Pope-Pole the national novena started in the newly built Shrine of John Paul II in Radzymin. Each month, on the 18th day, in the Shrine the prayers in the intention of families and our Homeland will be sent to God. The Shrine received over 3, 5 thousand intentions.

The national Novena through the intercession of the Saint John Paul II will end on May 18, 2020, exactly on the 100th anniversary of Karol Wojtyła’s birth.

According to the Catholic News Service, Pope Francis has contributed comments and analysis to a book (in Italian) about Pope St. John Paul II that declares him "The Great" (unofficially):

St. John Paul II taught the world that truly great faith and holiness dwell in "the normality of a person who lives in profound communion with Christ," Pope Francis said in a new book.

Precisely because he allowed people to see he was a human being -- whether skiing or praying, hiking or suffering -- "every gesture of his, every word, every choice he made always had a much deeper value and left a mark," Pope Francis told Father Luigi Maria Epicoco, author of the Italian book "San Giovanni Paolo Magno" ("St. John Paul the Great").

The book, published by Edizioni San Paolo and set for release Feb. 11, was written to mark the 100th anniversary of St. John Paul's birth May 18, 1920.

Much of the book is biographical information about the late pope, but each chapter includes Pope Francis' response to questions from Father Epicoco about his relationship with the late pope and observations about St. John Paul's spirituality, personality, events in his life and his teaching. 

I don't find any information about an English translation at the US website of Pauline Books & Media.

Pope Francis will also celebrate a Mass on May 17, 2020 at St. Peter's Basilica in celebration of Karol Wojtyla's birth and there's a national pilgrimage from Poland to Rome to attend. It's being celebrated on Sunday, May 17, the day before his birthday, so that more will attend. And it can't be just a coincidence that the Polish Bishops asked Pope Francis last year to declare Pope St. John Paul II a Doctor of the Church and a Patron of Europe.

More on these two saints and their anniversaries on Monday!

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