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The Jubilee Mass in Rome Sunday 19 February 1893

Today the group were attending the Jubilee Mass in Peter’s and arrived at
7 am to find thousands of pilgrims already there. 


It was said that over two hundred and twenty thousand pilgrims gathered in the Basilica and in St Peter’s Square.
The group, proudly carrying their banner, eventually gained entry to the Basilica and found that they had a splendid view of the high altar and the greater portion of the church.  All around them were banners of different nationalities and members of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See, all wearing their full uniform.

    Statue of St Peter                   Interior of St Peter's
in Basilica of St Peter, Rome           Basilica, Rome


Tomb of St Peter in the crypt of St Peter's Basilica                                                  

As the faithful awaited the arrival of His Holiness four hundred boys appeared on the balcony that runs round the interior of the great dome.   They were intended to represent the Angelical Choir.  The famous Sixtine or Papal Choir had already taken its place below and began to chant the ‘Ecce Sacerdos Magnus’.  A hush spread over the immense crowd and then suddenly raised a murmur – ‘His Holiness is coming’.

In front of the procession marched a double detachment of Nobel guards,

who passed up the aisle and took up a position on both sides of the high altar.  These were followed by the ambassadors and representatives of various Powers. 

One hundred Bishops came next, then over thirty Cardinals in their scarlet robes, and then the Holy Father borne aloft on his sedan chair.  The entire passage from The Vatican to the high altar was lined on either side with the Papal Troops and the Swiss Guard, with their picturesque costumes and shining helmets. 

As the procession slowly made its way up the church greetings were shouted: 

‘Evviva il Papa Re’ shouted the Italians
‘Vive le Pape Royal’ shouted the French
‘God bless our Pope’ shouted the English and then in Irish,

‘May God bless you, Our Most Holy Father Pope Leo XIII'.

The cheers lasted for ten minutes and then Mass began.  The choir sang from ‘Palestrina’s’ music and sometimes the choir of boys in the dome joined in.  Then after the Elevation, while every head was bowed in prayer, the silver trumpets burst forth in a sweet symphony.  Every heart was moved, and every eye was wet with tears.

At the conclusion of the Holy Father’s Mass the Papal blessing was given and the Holy Father was borne out of the church, in the same manner in which he entered.  The Irish Pilgrims then formed once more in processional order, and proceeded down the nave to the front entrance, reciting aloud the Holy Rosary, and singing the hymn, ‘God bless our Pope’.  As they emerged into the piazza there could be no doubt of the popularity of the Irish in Rome, for loud cries of ‘Viva Irlandese’ greeted them from every side.  At length they found their way across the Tiber and to the Irish College, weary, but believing they had been highly favoured by God in witnessing the glorious ceremony that had just concluded.

After a rest the group decided as it was Sunday, to visit as many of the churches as possible.  They drew up a programme so they might see them in order and then hired a carriage.  St Lorenzo in Lucino was the first one they visited.  This church was founded by Sixtus II in the fifth century.  Here are preserved the gridiron and chains of St Lawrence.  Not far away were the Church of S Maria in Via Lata and then the Church of the Jesuits, one of the largest churches in Rome.  The interior was rich in marbles of the rarest kinds and decorated in the most gorgeous style.  In the Chapel of St Ignatius  rests the body of the saint while a life-size silver statue stands above the altar.  In this church is the preserved right arm of St Francis Xavier.

Not far away is the Church of S Maria Sopra Minerva, the principal church of the Dominican Order.  In it are the incorrupt remains of St Catherine of Siena. 

Beside the Via della Scrofa is the beautiful Church of St Augustine, which contains the body of that saint’s mother, St Monica, and also a remarkable Madonna and Child in marble known as ‘Our Lady of Consolation’.

The next church is the Church of the Holy Apostles, situated in the square of the same name and containing the bodies of SS Philip and James the Less.   Then, on the island in the Tiber, is the Church of St Bartholomew.  It contains the body of the Apostle and the instruments of his martyrdom.  He was flayed alive and afterwards beheaded.

Then in the Circo Agonale is the Church of St Agnes.  St Agnes was a noble Roman maiden, who was put to death for the Christian Faith at the age of thirteen, in the year 304.  She was stripped of her garments, but her hair immediately grew so long and thick that it covered her as a mantle, and angels brought her a robe white as snow.  A woman who approached to insult her was struck dead, but by her prayers was raised to life again.  They cast her into a fire, but the flames did not touch her.  Finally, god allowed her to win her crown by decapitation.  Her parents were then permitted to take her body and bury it in the garden adjoining their palace, outside the walls of Rome. 

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