Category: News

Built Upon a Rock Fest: Sunday, September 17th – Mark Your Calendars!

Built Upon a Rock Fest: The Thirsting Band

Built Upon a Rock Fest is a free outdoor Catholic concert to be held on the grounds of the Cathedral, in the field adjacent to Holy Rosary School. There will also be adoration and opportunities for confession in the Cathedral for those who are interested. Come enjoy this event that features stunning on stage musical performances from national and local Catholic artists.

Free live entertainment (and free food!) with the backdrop of beautiful Lake Superior: an exhilarating and breathtaking experience, regardless of your faith background!

Gates open
5:00pm

The Aly Aleigha Band
5:45-6:30pm

The Thirsting 
7:00-8:30pm

Go to builtuponarockfest.com for details about the event, including the schedule, the mission, artist bios and answers to frequently asked questions. Help spread the word about this great event that will appeal to youth and adults alike! Help spread the love of Jesus Christ through authentically Catholic music that ROCKS!

Questions? Contact Marie Mullen at 210-563-8859 or [email protected]

Check out the one-minute video below for a glimpse of what to expect from the headlining act, The Thirsting:

Introducing the Documentary, Called & Chosen, Servant of God, Fr. Vincent Capodanno, MM

Fr. Capodanno, MM, Ministering in Viet Nam

Documentary Airing August 30, 2017

Excerpt from his biography, featured below the Trailer: 

By acknowledging a totally different vocational ministry, he sought permission to join the Navy Chaplain Corps intending to serve the increasing number of Marine troops in Vietnam. Eventually Maryknoll granted this request, and after finishing Officer Candidate School, during Holy Week of 1966, Father Capodanno reported to the 7th Marines in Vietnam. As the chaplain for the battalion, his immediate focus was the young enlisted troops or “Grunts.” Later transferred to a medical unit, Father Capodanno was more than a priest ministering within the horrific arena of war. He became a constant companion to the Marines: living, eating, and sleeping in the same conditions of the men. He established libraries, gathered and distributed gifts and organized outreach programs for the local villagers. He spent hours reassuring the weary and disillusioned, consoling the grieving, hearing confessions, instructing converts, and distributing St. Christopher medals. Such work “energized” him, and he requested an extension to remain with the Marines. It was during his second tour on September 4, 1967, with the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines that Father Vincent Capodanno made the ultimate sacrifice. After hours of heavy fighting from a North Vietnamese ambush, Father Capodanno, himself seriously injured, sighted a wounded corpsman pinned down by an enemy machine gunner. He ran to the Marine and administered medical and spiritual attention. Despite being unarmed, the enemy opened fire and Father Capodanno, the victim of 27 bullet wounds, died faithfully performing his final act as a good and faithful servant of God.

 

 

Vincent Robert Capodanno, born on February 13, 1929, in Staten Island, New York, was the tenth child of Italian immigrants, Vincent Robert Capodanno, Sr. and Rachel Basile Capodanno. Through the example of his parents, Vincent Jr. experienced the dignity of hard work, pride of family, strength of ethnic solidarity and most especially, love of their Catholic faith.

These values sustained the family during the Great Depression and following the sudden loss of their patriarch on young Vincent’s tenth birthday.

The American involvement in World War II impacted Vincent personally with three of his brothers serving in the military and fostered in him a profound patriotism and overt faith. Often before classes at Curtis High School, Vincent attended daily Mass at his home parish, a practice he continued after graduation and during his undergraduate years at Fordham University. While on a spiritual retreat in 1949 he confided to a close friend and fellow student his vocational desire.

Like many young adults of that era, Vincent was familiar with the missionary work of the Catholic Foreign Mission Society, the Maryknolls, through their magazine, The Field Afar. In following his call to share his faith by responding to peoples’ needs in Foreign Service, he applied to Maryknoll and received acceptance in 1949.

After nine years of intensive preparation in theology, academics, and basic survival tactics to fulfill the order’s mission to “Go and Teach All Nations,” Vincent completed his seminary training and was ordained in 1958 by Francis Cardinal Spellman, Archbishop of New York. Accompanied by the tolling of the seminary’s bell, an annual tradition of the departure service, Father Capodanno learned his destination: Taiwan. He arrived on the island in 1959, and immediately began studying the difficult language and acclimating to the culture of his future parishioners, the Hakka-Chinese. While serving that community, Father Capodanno administered the sacraments, taught native catechists, and distributed food and medicine. Although he struggled while trying to fully understand their language, he developed a subsequent ability to attentively listen in responding to his parishioners.

In the fall of 1960, he became the director of a youth hostel for young Chinese men preparing for the national college entrance exam. Besides overseeing their scholastic training, Father Capodanno was responsible for their spiritual and emotional needs, a significant challenge as the intense competition for college acceptance promoted depression and temptation of suicide. Several other short assignments occurred within six years followed by a six-month furlough and home visit. After returning to Taiwan, his superiors transferred Father Capodanno to Hong Kong, a decision he did not expect nor desire but which elicited a new response to God’s call of service.

By acknowledging a totally different vocational ministry, he sought permission to join the Navy Chaplain Corps intending to serve the increasing number of Marine troops in Vietnam. Eventually Maryknoll granted this request, and after finishing Officer Candidate School, during Holy Week of 1966, Father Capodanno reported to the 7th Marines in Vietnam. As the chaplain for the battalion, his immediate focus was the young enlisted troops or “Grunts.” Later transferred to a medical unit, Father Capodanno was more than a priest ministering within the horrific arena of war. He became a constant companion to the Marines: living, eating, and sleeping in the same conditions of the men. He established libraries, gathered and distributed gifts and organized outreach programs for the local villagers. He spent hours reassuring the weary and disillusioned, consoling the grieving, hearing confessions, instructing converts, and distributing St. Christopher medals. Such work “energized” him, and he requested an extension to remain with the Marines. It was during his second tour on September 4, 1967, with the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines that Father Vincent Capodanno made the ultimate sacrifice. After hours of heavy fighting from a North Vietnamese ambush, Father Capodanno, himself seriously injured, sighted a wounded corpsman pinned down by an enemy machine gunner. He ran to the Marine and administered medical and spiritual attention. Despite being unarmed, the enemy opened fire and Father Capodanno, the victim of 27 bullet wounds, died faithfully performing his final act as a good and faithful servant of God.

Posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor in 1969, Lieutenant Capodanno was also the recipient of the Navy Bronze Star medal, the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Silver Star and the Purple Heart Medal. Soon after his death, the first chapel bearing his name was dedicated on Hill 51 in Que Son Valley, Vietnam; Chaplain Capodanno had helped build this simple place of prayer and peace that was constructed of thatched palms and bamboo. On February 1968, within five months of his death, the chapel at the Navy Chaplains School at Newport, RI, was dedicated the Capodanno Memorial Chapel. Other military chapels and commemorations are located in Oakland, CA, Camp Pendleton, CA, Fort Wadsworth, NY, Iwakuni, Japan, and Thiankou, Taiwan, the last of which honors the missionary who began his work in that country.

A significantly prestigious memorial was the naming of the USS Cappodanno, a ship whose motto “Duty with Honor” exemplified the chaplain service of Father Capodanno. During its 20 years of operational service, it was further distinguished as the first ship in the US Fleet to receive a Papal Blessing while docked in Naples. Further military buildings bearing his name include the Vincent Robert Capodanno Naval Clinic in Gaeta, Italy, Capodanno Hall, a bachelor officers’ quarters at the San Francisco Bay Naval Shipyard and the Capodanno Research Facility at the Navy personnel offices in Millington, TN. Other tributes, geographic reminders preserving his name are: Capodanno Boulevard in Staten Island, NY, and Capodanno Street at the Naval Base, Newport, RI. Father Capodanno’s name appears on many other veteran memorials throughout the United States honoring individual servicemen and certain designated groups such as the Freedom Foundation in Valley, Forge, PA; the Catholic Chaplains Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery; the Veterans Memorial, in Kokomo, IN; and the Vietnam Memorial on the Mall in Washington, DC, as well as the Chaplain Vincent R. Capodanno Shelter for Homeless Veterans, in Boston, MA.

Two artists have chosen to commemorate Father Capodanno’s heroic final moments: an oil painting by Douglas Rosa is displayed at the Chaplain School in Newport, RI, and a bronze statue by Antonio Pierotti stands at Ft. Wadsworth, Staten Island. The painting depicts the priest’s struggle to rescue the dying corpsman while the sculpture reveals a calm and prayerful chaplain administering to the Marine. Another dramatic representation of the priest, a modern sculpture, is situated in Gaeta, Italy’s town square which is also named for Father Capodanno. More recently Lewis Williams, an iconographer, reveals the priest in his military uniform holding a prayer book, a premonition of his total sacrifice for God and country.

Annual awards and scholarships continue to honor Father Capodanno. Since 1971, the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation designates a recipient among children of Marine Corps members. In 2002 the former Chaplain of the Year Award was renamed the Father Vincent Capodanno Chaplain of the Year Award. Sixteen Knights of Columbus assemblies and councils throughout the United States have chosen Father Capodanno for their patron; similarly the Veterans of Foreign Wars have honored the chaplain by naming several posts after him.

The continuation of these acknowledgments demonstrates the enduring love and respect that Father Capodanno inspires. Since his death in 1967 people wishing to honor his memory have chosen specific and eloquent ways to honor the holiness that this man of God radiated in his lifetime and afterward.

 

Announcement from the Pastor: Save the Sept.28th Date!

Theology Uncapped

Although it is very early, I want to give you a good heads up about a program I am very excited to be a part of. There is (for now, it may become more) a three-part series called, Theology Uncapped at St. Benedict’s Church.

The three parts are a discussion between  Pastor Peter Kowitz from United Lutheran Church in Proctor, and me.

I have met Pastor Kowitz once so far, and he is a very impressive individual. I look forward to these discussions on the faith. They are not debates, but hopefully constructive conversations, which will include questions from the crowd.

Our first “Theology Uncapped” will be Thursday, Sept. 28, 6:30 pm, at St. Benedict’s, and the topic is called “The Papacy, Necessary or Unnecessary”.

The reason I bring this up so early is that there is need to RSVP,  because space is limited, and there is a cost which includes a catered meal and beverage of wine, beer, or pop.

The cost is $20 per person, and it will fill up.

My hope is that it will fill up with parishioners from our parishes. This is a rare opportunity to hear a conversation between a Catholic priest and a Lutheran minister about our different faith traditions.

Future topics will be the “Virgin Mary” and  “Celibacy in Ministry”.

You can RSVP to Deacon Carl Provost at [email protected]

Or Phone: 218.624.4400

If you do not RSVP you cannot expect to get in. The sooner the better since this will be advertised broadly not only in the Catholic Church but with the Lutheran community as well.

(Fr. Rich)

Diocese of Duluth Announces Name of New School: Stella Maris Academy

Duluth’s Catholic schools are unifying into one citywide school with multiple campuses under the new name beginning next school year. Stella Maris is a name for Mary meaning “Star of the Sea.” According to the diocese, “star of the sea” has a special significance to Duluth residents and emphasizes Mary’s role as a sign of hope and a guiding star for Christians.

Bishop Paul Sirba considered more than 20 names submitted by students, parents, staff and clergy. He decided on the name after spending time at each of the campuses and local parishes, according to the diocese.

“After careful consideration and prayer, like St. Peter in the Acts of the Apostles, I trusted the Lord to help us choose from between two beautiful names, the providential one to share with our school community,” Sirba said in a statement. “The choice places the school under the patronage of Stella Maris and speaks to our legacy of academic excellence and commitment to preparing lifelong learners who lead, love and serve as Jesus taught. This process overall will bring vitality and stability for the next generations.”

Students and families will have input in the colors and mascot as the new school identity is formed, according to the diocese. The plan calls for St. James Catholic School to become the western campus for elementary and middle school students, Holy Rosary School to become the eastern campus elementary school and St. John’s School to become the eastern campus for middle school and a new high school. St. Michael’s Lakeside School is slated to close.

Here is a link to St. John’s School’s website with more information about registering your child for the Fall semester:

http://www.duluthareacatholicschools.org/

And here is another look at the beautiful children at the St. John’s campus:

 

 

Father Rich’s Ramblings in the Bulletin: Visit St. Joseph’s in Gnesen

Here is a challenge to members of St. John’s Parish. When is the last time you have gone to Mass at our sister parish of St. Joseph’s in Gnesen? Although I rarely speak of St. Joseph’s in the context of my bulletin ramblings, it is well worth the drive to go to Mass there.

After the Second Vatican Council in the early 1960’s, many of our beautiful Catholic parishes were raped of what made them beautiful. In many churches the statues were taken out and the worst of it was that most of them had their high altars taken out as well, but that did not happen at St. Joseph’s. Though it’s a small church, it retains all the charm of an old country church, and I love going there to do Mass.

All the former pastors have told me the same. In my many conversations with past priests they all loved the opportunity of going to Gnesen for Mass not only because of it being a beautiful little church, but also because of the strong and healthy community that worships there.

It is also the oldest Catholic Church in the city of Duluth!

An added plus is that if I am the priest out there the weekend you go, Mass tends to be brief because I have to break the speed laws to get back to St. John’s in time for the 10:30 Mass!

On a completely unrelated note, I want you to know of two additional times we will be having for confessions this week. I will be in the “sin bin” this Wednesday and Thursday, April 5th & 6th, from 6:00- 7:30 pm.

Lent is a proper time to go to confession and we all need it, so please keep me busy for those times. (Fr. Rich)

Click on these photos to view larger images:

St. Joseph's Catholic Church

St. Joseph’s Catholic Church

St. Joseph's Catholic Church

St. Joseph’s Catholic Church

St. Joseph's Catholic Church

St. Joseph Catholic Church Grotto

St. Joseph's Catholic Church

St. Joseph Catholic Church

A Heads Up about a Net Flix 4 Part Series about Our Holy Father Francis

Pope Francis

On his path to becoming Pope Francis, Father Jorge Bergoglio pursues his religious vocation in a country ravaged by a brutal military dictatorship.  

We invite you to watch this film/not documentary, but probably accurate depiction of the military background from which our Holy Father came to us.

Not at all different than Pope St. John Paul II, coming from Nazism and Communism, Jorge Bergoglio emerged from the horrors of  war that caught him watching the deaths of priests, nuns and lay people dedicated to the most vulnerable of Argentina’s people, the poor.  While we don’t have reviews on this 4 part series, we have our own reviews to assure you that if you have access to Net Flix, do yourselves a favor, and watch this series.  It will endear you to our Holy Father.

Call Me Francis

Call Me Francis, is a 4 part biographical miniseries that chronicles Pope Francis’ life, his controversial political leanings, his remarkable humanitarian work and his ascent to Papacy starring Rodrigo de la Serna, Mercedes Morán and Muriel Santa Ana.

The miniseries opens with Jorge Mario Bergoglio’s early years in Buenos Aires in the 1960’s and depicts his journey through the height of Argentina’s “Dirty Wars” during the 70’s and 80’s, culminating in his appointment as Pope Francis, the first Latin American Pope in history, in 2013.

Call Me Francis is a Taodue production, co-created by Daniele Luchetti and Martin Salinas, and produced by Pietro Valsecchi.

 

A Message from Father Rich on the Feast of Christ the King

THIS IS A MOVEABLE FEAST

Pope Pius XI: The Author of Quas Primus, the Encyclical to which Father Rich is Refering

Pope Pius XI: The Author of Quas Primus, the Encyclical to which Father Rich is Refering

An autographed blessing signed by Pius XI. It is a hand-colored photo of him sitting at his desk. It is in an ornate frame that has cross keys and a tiara as part of the frame itself.

If you are unaware of this avocation of our pastor, I’d invite you to peruse his Collection to study, to browse, to enjoy the Collection to which he has devoted himself for the purpose of education, primarily.  Father Rich believes you cannot love what you do not know.  This Collection might help you to love and know our Church.

Visit Father Rich’s incredible Collection of Papal Artifacts.  Here is a link to his Collection:

Home Page

About the Commentary:

89-year-old Encyclical Holds Key Lessons for Us Today

Encyclicals are letters of high importance. Traditionally issued by any bishop, in recent times they have become an exclusive activity of the Bishop of Rome.

They are generally written to the entire church, and often a pope’s first encyclical will give a pretty clear indication where and how he wants to lead the church. As of this writing, Pope Francis has written one encyclical. Pope Benedict XVI wrote three, and Pope St. John Paul II wrote 14, but the pope with the most is Leo XIII (1878-1903), who wrote 85!

Often the letters are beautifully written and really speak to the issues of the day, but sometimes it is worthwhile to go back in history and see what some popes in the past have written and how prophetic these writings can actually be.

One encyclical that is particularly pertinent for today was written 89 years ago by Pope Pius XI (1922-1939). His encyclical Quas Primus (Latin for “In the first”) is pertinent for the month of November because with it, Pius established the liturgical feast day known as Christ the King, which almost always falls in November, because it is celebrated the last Sunday of ordinary time, right before Advent begins.

But Quas Primus is significant to much more than just this month. One would think in reading this encyclical that Pope Francis wrote it just yesterday. It is an amazing read!

The encyclical addressed what Pope Pius saw as a growing secularism in the world. Given that he wrote it in 1925, he probably wouldn’t even know where to start today.

He wrote that Christ needs to be king in every aspect of life: over persons, families, institutions, the state and even the whole universe. In reading this incredible letter, two quotes in particular stand out as extraordinarily appropriate for today.

Pius wrote, “While nations insult the beloved name of our redeemer by suppressing all mention of him in their conferences and parliaments, we must all the more loudly proclaim his kingly dignity.”

Read that a couple times and think about it. We cannot say “Merry Christmas” because it is offensive. We can only have “holiday trees” on public property. The 10 Commandment monuments that once were all over the country are being stripped from any government building. Most public schools in the country are no longer starting their school day with the “Pledge of Allegiance” because the words “one nation under God” are included. And heaven forbid that the government allow prayer in any school activity, whether it be sports or graduation ceremonies. And in recent years there has been a growing call to remove “in God we trust” from our coinage.

A second quote worth addressing from Quas Primus should hit a little closer to home, because Pius gives the reasons we got this way: “This state of things may perhaps be attributed to a certain slowness and timidity in good people, who are reluctant to engage in conflict or oppose but a weak resistance; thus the enemies of the Church become bolder in their attacks.”

I would have to say that, second only to pornography, the most confessed sin I have heard in general terms is the times people are too timid to speak up for the church when she is being mocked or attacked by friends, family and co-workers. People are afraid to get into any conflict in defending the church. They do not want to speak out, choosing to keep silent.

This is certainly not only an issue for laypeople. We priests, I think, are even more timid in preaching on tough subjects what the church holds to be true. So often our own parishioners are at odds with the church on the “hot button” issues like homosexual marriage, abortion and artificial contraception, to name a few, so we priests do not want to preach about these issues. We are so often, as Pope Pius XI said, good people, but timid.

I am not condemning my brother priests, because I am one of them. It takes a great amount of courage to get up in front of everyone and tell them the truth when it is very unpopular, but we need to have courage.

I am not sure that even one percent of the Catholic population reads the pope’s encyclicals when they are published, but we certainly should. And I would even encourage you to go back in time to see some of the past encyclicals. Some of them are as pertinent today as they were the day they were written.

Christ the King, be king over us today and always!

–Father Richard Kunst

Father Rich Is Leading a Tour to the Holy Land: February 13-23, & An Interview of Fr. James Martin, S. J.

The Holy Land

The Holy Land

As anyone who has ever accompanied Fr. Rich on a tour can tell you, you couldn’t have a better experience than to travel with him.  Here is your opportunity to go on pilgrimage to the sites where our faith began.

Father Rich:

father

Other than Rome, my favorite place to visit is Israel.  Every four to five years I host a tour of the Holy Land, because I think it is an important opportunity for people to visit the places our Savior lived and died.

My love affair with the Holy Land grew out of my time in the seminary when I spent six months in Israel studying the scriptures.  I am embarrassed to say that before that experience my scripture classes were about my least favorite subject to take in seminary.  After the time I spent in Israel the opposite was true.  Studying the Scriptures came to life and I took as many classes as I possibly could.

Once again on February 13-23, I will be bringing a group of people to the Holy Land.  This trip will be open to the public and will be advertised widely, but here in our parishes first.  I am deliberately choosing February, because that is when the prices are lowest. and also because it is right before we enter into the season of Lent, which is a great way to start that sacred season.

The single most misunderstood aspect of visiting the Holy Land is that people think it is dangerous; the opposite is true.  In fact, I would say it is safer to travel to Israel than it is to just about anywhere because the security is over the top.  I would feel much more secure in Israel than I would walking downtown on First Street.  So if security reasons have prevented you in the past from going to the Holy Land, you can honestly put that to rest.  It is as safe as any place you will visit because of the immense security.

If going to the Holy Land has been on your bucket list, contact the office for a brochure.  I would love to have as many parishioners as possible.—Father Rich

Here is a link to more information about the Holy Land from FR James Martin, author of FR Rich’s latest favorite book, Jesus, A Pilgrimage:

Jesus A Pilgrimage

Jesus A Pilgrimage

Father James Martin, S. J.

Father James Martin, S. J.

Full Episode: December 24, 2015

October 22: The Feast of St. John Paul, & Commentary by Father Rich

 

john paul ii statue

john-paul-ii-base-of-statue-400x117

This weekend, Saturday, October 22nd, is the feast day of my favorite saint Pope John Paul II. I have long been fascinated by the lives of the saints all the way back to high school, and I remember even years ago saying that as soon as John Paul II dies he will automatically be my favorite saint.

The influence he has had in my life is hard to measure, and that is from before I had the opportunity to meet him, which I did on seven different occasions. If it were not for his example, I am not sure I would be a priest today. He made that much of an impact on me.

He was the preeminent priest role model for my generation. I remember when I was in the seminary one of the priests on staff made the comment that if a novelist tried to invent the character of John Paul II, it wouldn’t be believable. His story growing up under Nazi occupation and then Communist rule through most of his life, only to be thrust into the papacy, followed by having one of the most instrumental roles in bringing the Iron Curtain down without the shedding of blood: his life is almost beyond believable.

In the case of this great saint, we certainly see God inspiring the right person at the right time in history for his greater purposes.

St. John Paul II, pray for us.   –Father Rich

 

First Class Relic of St. John Paul II

First Class Relic of St. John Paul II

 

September 14: The Exultation of the Holy Cross with Commentary by Fr. Rich

Relic of the True Cross of Christ belonging to Pope Clement XI

Relic of the True Cross of Christ belonging to Pope Clement XI

The Church of the Holy Sepulcher is the site in Jerusalem that is built over the site of the crucifixion.  Please read Fr. Rich’s commentary about this ancient chruch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Search of the True Cross of Christ: A Commentary by Father Richard Kunst

Father Rich

 

If you have ever had the opportunity to travel to Jerusalem, you have probably visited the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, a beautiful and ancient church that is built over the site of the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.

Believe it or not, this same church is claimed to have been the tomb of Adam, who, according to tradition, was buried below where the crucifixion took place. This is why so many old crucifixes have a skull and crossbones below Jesus’ feet. According to the ancient tradition, some of Christ’s blood seeped into the ground and touched Adam’s skull, bringing the old Adam to life briefly with the blood of the new Adam.

The Church of the Holy Sepulcher is also associated with another historical event. On the lowest level of this ancient church is a chapel dedicated to St. Helena, mother of Constantine.

This unique chapel is clearly in what was an ancient stone mining area, and the claim is that it’s the site where the saint discovered the true cross on which Christ was crucified. Sept. 14 is the feast day of the Exaltation of the Cross, also known as The Triumph of the Cross. It is the anniversary of St. Helena’s finding the cross of Jesus in the area of this humble little chapel in the bowels of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

The accounts of St. Helena’s finding of the cross do differ in some details, but the basic outline says that when her son the emperor made Christianity legal, she went to the Holy Land to look for relics associated with the life of Christ. Apparently the Jews had torn down the original site on the spot of the current church and buried it with a mound of dirt and rocks.

During the digging, three crosses were found with no markings that showed one of them to be the cross of Christ. So the bishop of Jerusalem, a man named Macarius, claimed to have heard from God that they were to bring the three crosses to the bedside of a woman who was at the point of death and touch the crosses to her body. The third cross cured her. By means of this miracle, the saint determined that the cross that cured the woman was indeed the true cross Jesus died on.

From there St. Helena took the true cross (along with other relics she found) back to Rome, where a church was built to house them. To this day you can go to Rome and visit the church of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme and see the relics St. Helena collected.

Since that time, the church has often distributed small slivers of the cross that St. Helena found to monasteries, bishops, royalty and others for the devotion of the faithful. But over time it seemed as though so many of these relics were distributed that, as the 16th century humanist Erasmus said, “if all the fragments were collected together, they would appear to form a fair cargo for a merchant ship.”

That comment from Erasmus was the impetus for an investigation of the known relics by a 19th-century French scholar named Charles de Fluery. De Fluery was determined to discover exactly how much of the supposed true cross really was distributed. De Fluery’s findings were surprising for even the most ardent supporters of the relics.

He calculated the entire cross to weigh approximately 220 pounds and have a volume of 10,900 cubic inches. After exhaustive research and travel to all the known shrines that claimed relics of the cross, his findings were that the total volume that he had measured came to 240 cubic inches. Surprised himself by this finding, he estimated quite liberally that the smaller fragments in private hands were 10 times the known larger fragments, coming to the figure of 2,400 cubic inches, which was less than 20 percent the estimated size of the cross Jesus would have been crucified on. De Fluery came to the tested conclusion that the surviving fragments of the true cross could not possibly be large enough in volume to crucify a man on.

All this being said, there is still room for some valid skepticism. No doubt there are a lot of spurious relics out there that are a cause of skepticism. Like any relic, relics of the true cross need to have valid documentation before they can be venerated in a public setting. Perhaps we should take President Ronald Reagan’s advice to “trust but verify” when it comes to relics claiming to be from the true cross of Christ.

Still, these relics are meant to move us more towards faith than skepticism. So if you see one of these purported relics, it is better to pray than to doubt.

Early in the fourth century St. Helena, mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine, went to Jerusalem in search of the holy places of Christ’s life. She razed the second-century Temple of Aphrodite, which tradition held was built over the Savior’s tomb, and her son built the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher over the tomb. During the excavation, workers found three crosses. Legend has it that the one on which Jesus died was identified when its touch healed a dying woman.

The cross immediately became an object of veneration. At a Good Friday celebration in Jerusalem toward the end of the fourth century, according to an eyewitness, the wood was taken out of its silver container and placed on a table together with the inscription Pilate ordered placed above Jesus’ head: Then “all the people pass through one by one; all of them bow down, touching the cross and the inscription, first with their foreheads, then with their eyes; and, after kissing the cross, they move on.”

To this day the Eastern Churches, Catholic and Orthodox alike, celebrate the Exaltation of the Holy Cross on the September anniversary of the basilica’s dedication. The feast entered the Western calendar in the seventh century after Emperor Heraclius recovered the cross from the Persians, who had carried it off in 614, 15 years earlier. According to the story, the emperor intended to carry the cross back into Jerusalem himself, but was unable to move forward until he took off his imperial garb and became a barefoot pilgrim.

The cross is today the universal image of Christian belief. Countless generations of artists have turned it into a thing of beauty to be carried in procession or worn as jewelry. To the eyes of the first Christians, it had no beauty. It stood outside too many city walls, decorated only with decaying corpses, as a threat to anyone who defied Rome’s authority—including Christians who refused sacrifice to Roman gods. Although believers spoke of the cross as the instrument of salvation, it seldom appeared in Christian art unless disguised as an anchor or the Chi-Rho until after Constantine’s edict of toleration.  —Father Richard Kunst

Papal Minutes, the Papal Expert & the RPR Network

FR Hankshake 3 Kiss

A new Catholic radio station in our area, the RPR Network (www.yourcatholicradiostation.com) is featuring the Curator of Papal Artifacts in a series entitled, Papal Minutes with Fr. Richard Kunst.

All the Minutes (with the exception of Pope Benedict XIV) are connected to popes on Papal Artifacts.  They include some details we’ve not included in the past–for example, what occurred from a window in the Vatican just prior to the election of Pope Pius X?  Giuseppe Sarto’s surname is translated, “tailor.”  You can find out by accessing the above link.  

Enjoy the Papal Minutesa gift from the Curator of Papal Artifacts!

A gift from our Pastor!

And here is a link to the  RPR interview with Father Kunst on April 19: ( go to 43.00 minutes  to access Father’s interview.)

https://yourcatholicradiostation.com/real-presence-live-podcasts

WWEN, 88.1 FM: RPR Is Featuring Father Rich’s “Papal Minutes”