News from San Antonio Church – March 10, 2024

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Weekly Bulletin March 10, 2024

by Terrie Evans

On March 10th, we celebrate the halfway point of Lent with Laetare or Rejoice Sunday using rose-colored vestments and altar cloth with the theme for this day coming from the entrance antiphon: “Rejoice, Jerusalem, and all who love her.   Be joyful, all who were in mourning; exalt and be satisfied at her consoling breast.”  Observed in Western Christianity as a countdown for the last 21 days before Easter Sunday it is also known as Mothering Sunday, for the tradition of visiting their mother church, the church where they received the Sacrament of Baptism, a tradition for Christians celebrated in the Lutheran and Anglican Churches.  A Collect Prayer of the Fourth Sunday of Lent: “O, God, through your Word reconcile the human race to yourself in a wonderful way, grant, we pray, that with prompt devotion and eager faith the Christian people may hasten toward the solemn celebrations to come.  Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever.  AMEN.”

On this 4th Sunday of Lent, the Station Church in Rome for this day is Santa Croce in Gerusalemme that was consecrated in 325 and originally part of the Palazzo Sessoriano home to Empress Helena, the mother of Emperor Constantine.  At that time, Constantine converted to Christianity and ordered all pagan temples to be torn down and replaced with Christian Churches.  When she journeyed to the Holy City in the 4th Century, Helena would dig through rubble from those demolished temples for anything that would lead her to the True Cross.   Her prayers were answered when workers found a block of wood with writing in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin: Jesus Nazarenus Rex Ludaeorum, I.N.R.I. Jesus of Nazareth, King of The Jews. For her return to Rome, Helena loaded up her boat with a piece of the True Cross, a piece of the Good Thief’s cross, the titulus, the sign placed on the cross” Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews, and some nails and thorns from the Crown of Thorns.  She also had the top layer of earth from Mount Calvary removed and placed the soil in the hold of the ship sailing from Jerusalem and then dispersing it all around her property in Rome.   

Helena then built the Basilica Sanctae Croce in Gerusalemme, the Basilica of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem, designed to house those relics from Christs Passion.  It was declared a Titular Church in 523 by Pope Gregory I and even though it was located on the outskirts of Rome, became a popular destination for pilgrims because of the relics housed there.  In the 8th Century, Pope Gregory II restored the Basilica and years later in 1049, Pope Leo IX entrusted it to the Benedictines of Monte Cassino and when it became neglected, and Pope Lucius II restored it in the 12th Century giving it a Romanesque appearance.  Around 1370, Santa Croce was assigned by Pope Urban V to the Carthusians until 1561 when the Congregation of St. Bernard took over, In 1601 Peter Paul Rubens was commissioned by Archduke Albert of Austria to paint his first altarpiece St. Helena with the True Cross to be placed in one of the side chapels.  In 1740, Pope Benedict XIV conducted more renovations and in 1743, the basilica was raised a few meters although the floor was not touched out of respect.    Some of the features are the marble tomb of Cardinal Quinones, the confessor of Charles V, two frescoes from 1745 depicting the story of Moses.  In the history of the Basilica, on Good Friday, the Pope would walk barefoot on the road connecting St. John Lateran, the official Cathedral of Rome to the Basilica of Santa Croce.  They did this as a sign of penance to venerate the Passion of Jesus.  On Laetare Sunday in Rome, Pope Francis will bestow a Golden Rose to an illustrious Catholic, states, churches, sanctuaries, royals, military figures, and governments as a token of affection. 

The Golden Rose is an ornament composed of gems and gold with an inner container of balsam and musk that bears a likeness to a spray of roses.  It is blessed by the Pope and symbolizes the glorious majesty of the Risen Christ.  “The Messiah is hailed the flower of the field and the lily of the valleys” as stated in the Bible.  Pope Leo XIII said: “The roses fragrance shows the sweet odor of Christ which should be widely diffused by His faithful followers”.  Pope Innocent III explained the mystical significance of the Golden Rose: “As Laetare Sunday, the day set apart for the function, represents love after hate, joy after sorrow, and fullness after hunger, so does the rose to the flower referred to in Isiah 11:1: “There shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesus, and a flower shall rise up out of His root.” At one time, the Golden Rose consisted of a simple blossom made of pure gold that was tinted with red. Years later the gold was not tinted but rubies and precious stones would be placed on the petals and in the heart of the rose.  It was originally a little over three inches in height and was carried in the left hand of the Pope so he could bless the faithful with his right hand while in the procession from the Santa Croce in Gerusalemme (Rome) to the Lateran Palace.  A vase with a large pedestal was added and during the reign of Pope Innocent XI, the rose weighed twenty pounds with a height of eighteen inches.  There will be a customary inscription with the coat of arms of the Pope who had the ornament made and that of who blessed and conferred it engraved on the pedestal. Many times, the blessing of the rose took place in a private chapel of their palace if the Pope was unable to visit Roman churches or basilicas.  The blessing now takes place in the Hall of Vestments with the Golden Rose set on a table that is adorned with lit candles.   Pope Francis will be vested in a rose-colored stole and cope wearing his miter headdress.  After the blessing it is placed on the altar at the foot of the Cross and bestowed on its recipient who could be a man, woman, married couple, a state, or churches. 

Up until the 16th century, the Golden Rose was usually awarded to male sovereigns but later it was common to award female sovereigns or wives of sovereigns.  Principal Churches to receive the Golden Rose are St. Peter’s Basilica, the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran, the Basilica of Our Lady of Aparecida and the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore.  Some of the Popes made no awards of the Golden Rose during their tenure as Pope Pius X, Pope Benedict XV, Pope John XXIII, and Pope John Paul I did.  The practice was revived by Pope Pius XI and continued by Pope Pius XII.  From 1963-1978, Pope Paul VI made 5 awards, Pope John Paul II who reigned from 1978-2005 made 10 awards, and Pope Benedict XVI from 2005-2013 made 19 awards to Marian Shrines.  Pope Francis over the years has awarded 4 Golden Roses, all to Marian Shrines.  

On this Sunday, Notre Dame will announce the recipient of the Laetare Medal given each year on the 4th Sunday of Lent as the American counterpart of the Golden Rose.  The medal awarded annually at Notre Dame to a Catholic “Whose genius has enabled the Arts and Sciences, illustrated the ideals of the Church, and enriched the Heritage of Humanity”.  Established in 1883, the Laetare Medal bears the Latin inscription, “Magna est veritas et praevalebit” (Truth is great and will prevail).   Some of the past recipients of the Laetare Medal are:  Civil War General William Rosencrans, Operatic Tenor, John McCormack, the 35th President of the United States, John F. Kennedy, Catholic Worker Foundress, Dorothy Day, Novelist Walker Percy, Cardinal Joseph Bernadin, Monsignor George H. Higgins, Jazz Composer Dave Brubeck, and Actor Martin Sheen.                                             

Our San Antonio Church community sends their condolences to the Scarlato Family on the passing of their Patriarch, Alberto Scarlato who passed away on February 22, 2024, at the age of 90.   He was the Father of Gina (Scarlato) McIntyre, David (Judy) Scarlato and the late Joey Scarlato.  He was the beloved Grandpa of Sarah (Brett), Angla (Kyle), Bo (Emma), Olivia (Andrew), Kristin (Ethan), Colin, Isabella, and Joey.  Great Grandpa of Brady, Emma, Liam, Griffin, Luca, Isla, Hudson, Harper, Palmer, Poppy, Ellie, Anthony, and Vincent.   Members of the Scarlato Family have celebrated many Baptisms and Weddings at San Antonio Church over the years.   The late Gilda (Panaro) Scarlato (1932-2007) who grew up in the Little Italy of South Fairmount was the mother of Alberto’s children, Gina, David, and the late Joey.   Gilda “Jil” had many family connections within the San Antonio Church Community and also with the Marckesano, Panaro, Minella and Sheets families who also mourn his passing.  Alberto Scarlato was the son of the late Fiore (1890-1958) and Christine (Pucci) Scarlato (1892-1968) both born in Italy who came to America in the early 1900’s and settled in Cincinnati at 3234 Queen City Avenue.   Alberto was the beloved brother of the late Emil Scarlato (1912-1983), Hector Scarlato (1922-1973), Raymond Scarlato (9124-2003), Rudolph Scarlato (1925-2001), Loretta (Scarlato) Sheets (1928-2011), Margaret Scarlato (1932-1935) and Christine (Scarlato) Gundrum (1930-2018).  Please keep their family and friends in your prayers. 

On this Sunday,  prayers  and special intentions are needed at this time for Chuck Brisbin who has been hospitalized due to a serious accident.  His wife Susan (Schultz) Brisbin is part of the Gramaglia Family who have had a presence in the neighborhood of Little Italy and a history at San Antonio Church.  Susan’s mother is Therese (Gramaglia) Schultz who was a long-standing member of our church and part of the Men’s and Ladies Sodality. The Brisbin Family are well known on the west side and throughout Cincinnati for the popularity of Chuck Brisbin’s Blues Band, the Tuna Project.  Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers that he will be able to make a full recovery.

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