Church and World Events

Mont Saint-Michel: one of the seven wonders of the world

In the year marking one thousand years since the beginning of the construction of its abbey, France’s Mont Saint-Michel has been named one of the seven wonders of the world by the American magazine Condé Nast Traveler. Given the harmonious combination of stone and sea, the magazine states that “perhaps nowhere else in Europe is architecture so well complemented by the natural world.

The mount and Benedictine-built abbey have been known since the Middle Ages as the Wonder of the Western World, becoming a place where, since time immemorial, the angelic patron of France, St. Michael the Archangel, is invoked.

Three years of Thomist commemorations

The Order of Preachers will have three consecutive years of festivities in honour of St. Thomas Aquinas, one of its members who had the greatest influence in the history of the Church.

The triennium of celebrations will begin this year with the commemoration of the 700th anniversary of his canonization on July 18, 1323, by Pope John XXII. The year 2024 will mark the seven hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the Angelic Doctor’s death, and 2025 will conclude the solemnities celebrating the eight hundredth birthday of this distinguished Dominican, luminary of scholastic thought and Christian tradition.

Terrorist attack in Spain

On the afternoon of January 25, Yasin Kanza, a twenty-six-year-old Moroccan, stormed two churches in the city of Algeciras, Spain, destroying images, assaulting people with a machete and uttering phrases such as “Allah is great.”

The sacristan of the Church of Our Lady of La Palma, Diego Valencia, was killed and four people – including the parish priest of the Chapel of San Isidro, Father Antonio Rodríguez – were injured in the attack, deeply shocking the international community.

French court orders removal of Marian statue

On January 12, in an unjust and hotly debated decision, the Administrative Court of Appeal of Bordeaux, France upheld a ruling made by the Administrative Court of Poitiers in 2022, ordering the removal of a statue of Our Lady located at a road intersection in the city of La Flotte-en-Ré. The provision was prompted by a demand from the group Libre Pensée 17, on the grounds that the presence of the statue in a public space contravenes the country’s law on the separation of Church and State.

The clearly anti-religious resolution, which demonstrates a determination to erase from France’s past a legacy of 1500 years of Christianity, provoked a huge reaction among the citizens of La Flotte-en-Ré, who signed a petition that garnered more than 20,000 signatures. The town mayor, who also opposes the statue’s removal, will appeal to the Council of State to obtain the revocation of the ruling.

The statue of the Blessed Virgin is considered part of the historical heritage of the city.

Where Is Catholic Mass Attendance Highest?

A study published by the Centre for Applied Research in the Apostolate points out that Nigeria is the country where Catholic Mass attendance is highest. Research conducted by the World Values Survey in thirty-six countries with large Catholic populations, showed that 94% of Nigerian Catholics attend Mass at least once a week.

Although not conducted in every country worldwide, the study sheds light on the relationship between economic factors and attendance at Mass, highlighting a phenomenon that is determining Catholics’ participation in the Sacraments: in countries where the per capita GDP is lower, Catholicism is stronger. This is confirmed by countries such as Kenya, where 73% of Catholics attend Mass weekly, Lebanon (69%), Philippines (56%), Colombia (54%), Poland (52%) and Ecuador (50%).

Among Brazilians, although 82% of those interviewed considered themselves “religious”, only 8% of Catholics said they go to Mass once a week. Thus, Brazil is one of the countries where adults who claim to be Catholic go to Mass the least, on a par with nations such as France (8%) and the Netherlands (7%).

Wounded by St. Michael’s sword

A drunken thief was seriously injured when he tried to steal a statue of St. Michael the Archangel from a Catholic church in downtown Monterrey, Mexico.

According to local media reports, thirty-two year old Carlos Alonso broke into the Church of Cristo Rey in the early hours of January 14, smashing a glass door to enter the church. He stumbled as he fled carrying the statue, and the sword of St. Michael caused a deep cut in the region of his throat. However, the first responders managed to control the bleeding and placed the bandit’s fate in the hands of the competent authorities.

The statue, however, sustained no damage, a sign that St. Michael continues to protect the church that houses his image!

Pool of Siloam to be opened to visitors

The historic Pool of Siloam, located in the Old City of Jerusalem and famous for being the site where Jesus healed a man blind from birth (cf. Jn 9:7), will soon be open to the public. Pilgrims will be able to see the excavation work as well as visit the pool, which will be part of the tourist route from the City of David to the Western Wall of Jerusalem.

Built in the 8th century BC and rediscovered in 1980, it is estimated to have undergone numerous stages of development and that in its earlier splendour it was inlaid with fine tilework, according to a spokesperson for the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Eucharistic hymn competition in the United States

For the occasion of the 10th National Eucharistic Congress, which will take place in July 2024 in the city of Indianapolis, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops launched a Eucharistic hymn competition in January to reinvigorate devotion to the Real Presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar.

Those interested should submit their compositions by April 21, 2023, to be evaluated for musical quality, theological soundness and liturgical suitability. The winners will receive a prize of 2,500 dollars and their melodies will solemnize the festivities during the Eucharistic Congress.

Nigerian priest burned alive

In the early hours of January 15, the parish house of St. Peter and St. Paul Church in Kafin-Koro, Nigeria, was attacked by terrorists who shot at it randomly and set it ablaze with Fr. Isaac Achi and his assistant, Fr. Collins Omeh, still inside the residence. Fr. Isaac, aged sixty-one, was burned to death, while Fr. Collins managed to escape, being wounded by the bandits with a gunshot to the shoulder.

According to Fr. Collins’ narration, the priests administered the Sacrament of Confession to each other while the house was under attack.

Alhaji Sani Bello Abubakar, governor of Niger State, where the crime took place, termed it “ungodly and inhuman”, urging security agencies to track down the perpetrators. “Drastic action is needed to put an end to this carnage,” he declared. The Minna Diocese asked God to “protect and save His Church in this critical period,” declaring that Nigerian Catholics are “deeply wounded and saddened” by the event.




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