Archive of October 3, 2011

Rome’s Christian past revealed by 3-D imaging

Rome, Italy, Oct 3, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) -

A remarkable Vatican-Swedish project is providing a new 3-D insight into Christian Rome’s architectural history.

“It’s what we call building archaeology,” Olof Brandt of the Pontifical Institute for Christian Archaeology explained to CNA. He is currently working on a 3-D study of Rome’s Lateran Baptistery, situated next to the Cathedral of St. John Lateran.

“That’s the archeology of existing structures, which is about reading the traces of the past in the existing walls of a building.”

Brandt points out the tell-tale signs as to how and when the baptistery evolved – from the 4th century foundations to the later 16th-century windows.

“So, there, with just a brief look at this building, you immediately understand that this building has had a history. It has been reconstructed and rebuilt in different designs and different periods and that's what we are here to study.”

The study is using the latest techniques in 3-D mapping. The process, known as structure-from-motion, involves taking thousands of digital photographs of the baptistery and then using them to build up a virtual recreation in three dimensions.

“We can make a very high resolution texture out of the building that the archaeologists can use for really close up interpretation and analysis of the building,” says Håkan Thorén of the Swedish Heritage Board.

“I think it is possible that we have so far taken about 4,500 pictures of the building. And we still have some to take. So I think we'll end up with about 6,000 images that we use to compute a 3-D model out of the building.”

The team sees the baptistery project as particularly significant, describing the building as “one of the most important Christian buildings in the world.” Founded by Pope Sixtus III in 440, it is built upon an earlier structure dating from the time of the Emperor Constantine in the previous century. In fact, it’s sometimes claimed he was baptized in its octagonal font. For many generations afterward it was the only baptismal font in Rome.

“It was built together with the Lateran cathedral, which is also still standing, but the ancient building is invisible because it is covered by Baroque decoration, while, as you can see, the Lateran baptistery is not,” says Olof Brandt.

“So, what you can see is actually the original walls. The brick walls you see are 1,700 years old and they can tell us quite a bit about the history and the evolution of this building, and in a rather unique way.”

And as is the way with Christian Rome, while archeologists do their job, the priests continue to do theirs.

“From the 4th century up to today, the baptistery has contained the signs of a history that has always been a living one,” says Fr. Fabio Borghesi of the Lateran Baptistery.

“It has never stopped being used for its original purpose and still today it is the font for the Parish of St. John Lateran and every week we welcome children and families for baptisms.”

Corrected Oct. 3, 2011 at 3:20 MDT. Changes name of Fr. Borghesi.

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Cardinal laments mother's death in Madrid parish

Madrid, Spain, Oct 3, 2011 (CNA/Europa Press) -

Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela of Madrid, Spain, together with his auxiliary bishops, expressed sadness over the shooting of a pregnant woman as she prayed before Mass at a Madrid parish.

The bishops gave “thanks to God” for the actions of emergency responders who saved the life of the pregnant woman’s child.

The incident occurred Thursday, Sept. 29 at approximately 8 p.m.

The Spanish newspaper ABC reported that the gunman, wearing a straw hat, casual clothing and carrying a pistol inside a sports racket cover, walked into the Madrid church and shot dead 36-year-old Jazmin Rocio Piñeiro at point blank range as she sat in a pew before Mass. She was only days away from giving birth. Rocio’s husband, who came to the scene, had to be treated by doctors.

The gunman then turned the weapon on himself.

Paramedics were unable to save the mother but did manage to deliver her unborn baby by emergency caesarean section. The baby boy went into cardio-pulmonary arrest at birth but the medical team was able to resuscitate him with a heart massage.
In their Sept. 30 statement the bishops expressed sorrow over the tragic incident and offered condolences to the woman’s husband and family members. Priests at the parish were able to administer last rites to the mother and baptize the baby.
The bishops also offered prayers to God for the eternal repose of the victim, “that the Lord may grant the gift of consolation and hope in eternal life to her husband, her newborn son and their family.”
They also prayed for the speedy recovery of a third shooting victim in the church and for God’s forgiveness for the shooter.

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Cardinal Erdo re-elected president of the Council of European Bishops' Conferences

Tirana, Albania, Oct 3, 2011 (CNA) -

Meeting in Albania last week for their plenary assembly, the Council of European Bishops' Conferences re-elected Cardinal Peter Erdo of Esztergom-Budapest as president of the body.

The cardinal will serve a five year term, ending in 2016.
Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, president of the Italian bishops’ conference; and Archbishop Jozef Michalik of Przemysl, head of the Polish bishops’ conference, were elected as vice presidents. They will replace Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard of Bordeaux and Cardinal Josip Bozanic.
The council bishops thanked the newly elected leaders for their readiness to serve and encouraged them in their work of evangelization in Europe. According to a press release, they also “thanked all the members of the outgoing presidency for their work for the good of the Church and for their devotion to promoting fraternal communion among the European episcopates.”

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Pope tells European bishops to evangelize with courage

Tirana, Albania, Oct 3, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) -

Pope Benedict encouraged the bishops of Europe to be zealous and fresh in their approach to evangelizing modern culture, particularly young people. 

During a Sept. 29-Oct. 2 gathering in Albania, the bishops were read a message from the Pope in which he urged them to “courageously” identify “new missionary paths of evangelization, especially in serving the new generations.”

The annual assembly of the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences was held in Tirana, Albania.

In his message to the bishops, Pope Benedict praised the council as “a vital structure connecting the European episcopates, which for forty years has promoted fruitful collaboration in pastoral and ecumenical activities.”

The council, which is headed by Cardinal Peter Erdo of Esztergom-Budapest, dedicated this year's theme to the new evangelization—the late Pope John Paul II's call to re-evangelize formerly Christian societies.

In the opening session of the gathering, Cardinal Erdo recalled how the mission of the council “is to support the Church throughout the continent of Europe, focusing particular attention on those Churches which, during the course of last century, suffered greatly under the dictatorship of atheist regimes.”

“Today we can confidently affirm that the rebirth of the Church in those countries is proof of Divine Providence and of faith in Christ, who was crucified and rose again,” he said.

In addition to the topic of evangelization, the assembly focused on the council's service to the Church in Europe as well as progress made in the area of ecumenical dialogue. The bishops then met with His Beatitude Fouad Twal, Latin Rite Patriarch of Jerusalem, to discuss ways to help Christians in the Holy Land.

The bishops also reflected on Pope Benedict's trips this year to Germany, Croatia and Spain, where he attended World Youth Day.

During the assembly, the council re-elected Cardinal Peter Erdo of as president of the body. He will serve a five-year term ending in 2016.
Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, president of the Italian bishops’ conference, and Archbishop Jozef Michalik of Przemysl, head of the Polish bishops’ conference, were elected as vice presidents. They will replace Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard of Bordeaux and Cardinal Josip Bozanic of Croatia.

The bishops thanked the newly elected leaders for their readiness to serve and encouraged them in their work of evangelization in Europe. They also thanked “all the members of the outgoing presidency for their work for the good of the Church and for their devotion to promoting fraternal communion among the European episcopates.”

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Bishop O’Connell: Catholic schools need strong ‘identity and mission’

Washington D.C., Oct 3, 2011 (CNA) - Catholic schools must maintain a strong Catholic identity and mission if they are to help young people understand how to access truth in their lives, said Bishop David M. O’Connell of Trenton, N.J. on Oct. 3.

“The idea of Catholic identity is very simple,” he said. “A Catholic school derives its identity from Jesus Christ, from the Gospels, from the Church and its teachings – all of its teachings.”

Bishop O’Connell was the keynote speaker at a conference on “The Catholic Identity of Catholic Elementary and Secondary Schools” at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

The invitational conference was sponsored by the Catholic University of America and St. John’s University.

Bishop O’Connell, who served as the president of Catholic University from 1998 to 2010, explained to his audience that identity and mission are two critical elements of Catholic education.

“Catholic education is not simply about values.”

Rather, it is about a vision that comes from Jesus Christ, he explained. This vision presents a different way of looking at the world.

It is up to Catholic educators to present this vision with passion, he said. “It’s how we do it that can make all the difference in the world.”

The bishop explained that the mission of evangelization is not one that is carried out simply in the classroom, but also in the everyday lives of the educators.

If teachers are successful in presenting the Catholic vision with a strong passion, they will not merely pass on information, but will change lives, he said.

Bishop O’Connell acknowledged that Catholic schools today face challenges in enrollment, staffing and finances.

He explained that these obstacles must be overcome with a strong sense of mission that flows from a clearly-understood Catholic identity.

Part of every Catholic school’s “call to excellence” is a call to be firmly rooted in Christ, the bishop explained.

“Our Catholic identity is who and what we are,” he said.

Bishop O’Connell also emphasized the role of administrators in Catholic education.

“It is the administrator in the Catholic school that must lead the charge,” he said.

In order to do this, administrators must understand and commit themselves to the idea of Catholic identity, he explained.

The bishop encouraged the conference participants to act as leaders in the field of Catholic education, striving for excellence and encouraging others to do the same.

“You are the leadership of Catholic education in our country,” he said.

He urged them to carry out their work with a “special zeal” that is authentic and courageous, while never being apologetic or ashamed of their faith.

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Marian procession in Manchester ends 20 year drought

Manchester, United Kingdom, Oct 3, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) -

After a 20 year absence, the first official Catholic procession returned to the English city of Manchester on Oct. 2.

“I had tears in my eyes when they lifted Our Lady and it all began,” 75-year-old Mary Patricia Fehily said. “I was walking in the love of Jesus and Mary.”

Fehily, from the city of Hale, is one of the many who were reminded of processions from her childhood years.

"It brings back so many memories of my youth because in Ireland we used to process three times a year. Hopefully this will make people think of our Creator."

The crowd of Catholics was estimated at 1,000 people, who took to the streets of Manchester’s predominantly Muslim neighbourhood of Rusholme. Security was provided by Catholic police personnel who volunteered their services.

The statue of Our Lady of Reconciliation and its platform, which weigh 440 pounds, were carried along the main road, known as the Curry Mile, and circled Platt Fields Park before finally entering it.

Local school children, head teachers, parishioners of different ethnicities, and eight priests came together to pray the Rosary and sing songs during what might have been one of the hottest October days ever recorded in the U.K.

Joseph Martin McDonagh, one of the volunteers who helped carry the platform, decided to go barefoot.

"Today has been the most fulfilling day of my life," said Joseph. "I regret the way I used to live, and I'm so happy I was allowed to do this.

"I wish I was still carrying her now," said the 37-year-old. "I've always had a soft spot for Mary. My mother had problems when she was pregnant with me and promised Our Lady to entrust me to her if I was born safe."

Headteacher Dominic Mulcahy of St. John's Catholic Primary School said it reminded him of the “whit walks,” the traditional processions of witness celebrated in northwest England.

"It stopped for 20 years but this has come back now," he said. "It's bringing people together to pray in public. Whether it's a Muslim or Jewish area, it's God's area, and we should be free to express our faith and love Him the way we want to."

The Marian Community of Reconciliation and the Christian Life Movement, organizers of the event, said they had expected half the turnout.

Inspector Damian O' Reilly of Greater Manchester Police said: "It's been fantastic. I remember the old days and it's nice to get something going again and show that we're proud of our faith.

"This is just going to get bigger and bigger. This year we've had 1,000 participants, but next year we'll have 5,000," he said.

"We've been also so blessed with this weather. Our Lady wasn't going to let it rain, now was she?"

The procession was accompanied by bagpipes as it made its way down Curry Mile. Upon arriving at Platt Fields Park, 12 drummers from India performed a dance in traditional Kerala dress.

"In India we have many more processions and Hindus and Christians celebrate them in a similar style. Our processions last many hours and we play our drums during a very long time," said Binson Konickal Baby.

"There are approximately 2,000 Catholic families from Kerala in Greater Manchester. This is one way of integrating in the European community and we feel very welcomed."

"This will also help everyone get more religious background in this country," said the 34-year-old. "It's especially important for young people because they'll pass it on to other generations."

The procession ended with a speech by Fr. Thomas Connolly, the dean of St. Kentigern and St. Edwards churches, and the coronation of Our Lady by the vicar general of the Salford  diocese, Fr. Anthony Kay.

The superior of the Marian Community of Reconciliation, Andrea Velarde, said the procession surpassed all their expectations and that she was really impressed by people's devotion to Our Lady.

"We realized that the best way to evangelize in this country is through Mary. So that's what has happened," she said. "It was very moving to see people's piety. The volunteers didn't even want to stop carrying her, to switch turns as they were supposed to."

More information about the Marian Community of Reconciliation can be found at:

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