Church and World Events

Ireland celebrates 1500th anniversary of the death of its patroness

On February 1, Ireland celebrated the 1500th anniversary of the death of St. Brigid of Kildare, one of this nation’s patron saints. Deceased in 524, she is considered by many to be the pioneer of female monastic life in the country, a notable figure for the authority she exercised there in the early days of Christianity, especially for her monastic foundations and her role as an evangelizer and peacemaker in the region.

The country proclaimed the date a public holiday. Lectures, pilgrimages and various religious services were part of the festivities, as well as the solemn enthronement of one of her relics in the church dedicated to her in Kildare.

Monks live longer than lay people

The Institute of Demography of the Austrian Academy of Sciences has released the first results of a study aimed at defining useful elements for “successful ageing”. The researchers – who are analysing life expectancy in monasteries in Austria and Germany on the basis of records dating back several centuries – announced that monks live, on average, five years longer than men “in the world”.

According to the study, monastic life with its daily routine, balanced diet, discipline and asceticism, combined with constant prayer, proved to have a definite positive impact on the health and longevity of consecrated people. The role of solidarity between members of the community and the absence of stress peaks were also considered to be of great importance, opening up an interesting research avenue in the search for better quality of life.

Timetable for the reopening of Notre-Dame Cathedral

After five years of renovations, the Archdiocese of Paris has announced the programme of celebrations planned for the reopening of Notre-Dame Cathedral, which was severely damaged by a fire in 2019.

In preparation for the event, the statue of Notre-Dame of Paris will return to the sacred precinct at the end of November in a large popular procession. The official festivities will begin on December 7, 2024, with the symbolic ceremony of transferring possession of the cathedral from the State to the Catholic Church, the reactivation of the organ and some liturgical services. The first Mass will be on December 8, the day of the Immaculate Conception, with the consecration of the altar.

The celebrations will continue through the octave, until December 15, when civil and ecclesiastical authorities from all over the world are expected to visit, as well as pilgrims and collaborators who sponsored the reconstruction of the building.

The “promised land” of vocations

The island of Flores, one of the smallest and poorest in Indonesia, is paradoxically one of the most fruitful places in the world for religious vocations. Of the island’s 1.5 million inhabitants, 70 per cent are Catholic and vocations fill five minor seminaries, where there are now a total of 500 young men, in addition to the 400 candidates for the priesthood studying at the inter-diocesan seminary.

In the Diocese of Maumere alone there are around two hundred religious institutes. Also within this ecclesiastical circumscription is the largest seminary in the world, belonging to the Institute of the Incarnate Word, where 1,300 students from different congregations study.

Lourdes bathing pools to be reopened

The Marian shrine in Lourdes, France, has announced that it plans to reopen access to its famous pools at the end of this year. The pious custom of bathing in the miraculous waters of Lourdes has been interrupted since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, which is why the faithful, especially the sick, have had to content themselves in recent years with washing their faces and hands as a sign of devotion.

Investments are being made on work to improve the facilities and water treatment, the rector of the shrine affirms.

Canadian Catholic school murders debunked

A recently published book compiles eighteen studies by journalists debunking accusations made against the Catholic Church in Canada in the case of the alleged mass graves found at a Catholic boarding school for indigenous children in Kamloops. According to Grave Error: How the Media Misled Us (and the Truth about Residential Schools), edited by Chris Champion and Tom Flanagan, the discovery of the remains of two hundred and fifteen children’s bodies is nothing more than a lie.

The scandal, propagated in 2021 by a press release on the location of the grave using GPR technology – ground-penetrating radar – unleashed a furious wave of criticism and attacks against the Catholic Church in Canada, which left a hundred churches burnt or desecrated in the country. However, after three years of research, no bodies or evidence of human remains have been found.

Advertising campaign thanks priests for their role

The Catholic Association of Propagandists has launched a campaign to recognize the work that priests do for the good of Spanish society. Under the slogan Thank you, Priests, the organization has published thousands of posters and a video featuring statements of gratitude and phrases such as: “The tree that falls makes more noise than the forest that grows,” “Thank you for being faithful, even if others make you doubt your vocation; thank you for being another Christ on earth.”

The organizers are aiming to raise awareness of the important work of the fifteen thousand six hundred priests of the Catholic Church in Spain, who are often attacked for the scandals caused by a few in the country. The initiative is being carried out in more than thirty cities, targeting public spaces, schools, parishes and shopping centres.

Use of cellphones banned in Italian schools

Following a recent recommendation from UNESCO, Italy’s Ministry of Education has ordered the exclusion of smartphones and tablets from classrooms in the country, including those used for teaching purposes.

The regulation covers everything from nursery school to secondary school, with the aim of reducing the impact of new technologies on students’ cognitive abilities. Guidelines for the proper application of the measure are yet to be published.

Statue remains intact after shelling in Ukraine

The month of February was marked by an upsurge in fighting in the Ukrainian region of Kherson. On Saturday February 17, a bomb hit the neighbourhood of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Church. Despite the damage to the church’s structure and windows, the statue of the Virgin Mary remained standing amid the rubble.

“The Lord always protects us,” commented Fr. Maksym Padlevskyi, a priest who decided to face the risks of war so as not to abandon his parishioners and who admires the people’s faith, which has been rewarded with events like this.

Consecrated virgins on the rise in Poland

Although priestly and religious vocations are in constant decline on the European continent, another form of consecrated life has increased considerably in recent decades in countries like Poland. These are virgins who, without joining a religious institute or leaving their jobs and professions in the world, consecrate their lives to the service of God.

There are around four hundred of these consecrated women in the whole of Poland. Their formation includes a three-year period of instruction before their official consecration in the presence of the local bishop, and some annual spiritual retreats, which help to strengthen the bonds of union they must have with Our Lord Jesus Christ.

According to the director for Institutes of Consecrated Life of the Archdiocese of Warsaw, this flourishing can be seen as an authentic call from Providence to bear witness to the faith in a secularized society far removed from God.




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