Thursday, September 12, 2013

Bergoglio’s Gig: Devoutly Venerate This Painting.

Protectress of the Roman People
If peace breaks out in Syria, some Roman Catholics will believe it was because Pope Francis invoked this icon: the “Salus Populi Romani”, or the “Protectress of the Roman People”.

ROME, September 12, 2013 – With the passing of the days the extraordinary nature of the vigil presided over by Pope Francis in St. Peter's Square on the evening of Saturday, September 7 is becoming ever more perceptible.

First of all, the reason: a day of fasting and prayer to call for peace in Syria, the Middle East, and wherever there is war. With the participation not only of Catholics but of men of every religion and simply “of good will.” Not only in Rome but in many cities of the world.

Then the duration. One cannot recall a public vigil of prayer of four consecutive hours, from sunset to late into the night, in the constant presence of the pope.

Then the silence. Over the entire span of the vigil the recollection of the hundred thousand persons crowding St. Peter's Square and the surrounding areas was intense and emotional. In harmony with the accentuated austerity of the very presence of the pope.

Then, above all, the form that the prayer took on. It began with the rosary, the most evangelical and universal of the “popular” prayers, and with a meditation by Pope Francis. It proceeded with the adoration of the sacrament of the Eucharist. It continued with the office of readings - the nocturnal psalmody of the monks - with the reading of passages from Jeremiah, St. Leo the Great, and the Gospel of John. It concluded with the singing of the “Te Deum” and with Eucharistic benediction imparted by the pope.

But perhaps what struck those present the most was the entrance into the square, at the beginning of the celebration, of the Marian icon of “Salus Populi Romani," carried by four halberdiers of the Swiss Guards and preceded by two little girls with bouquets of flowers. The icon was enthroned in front of Pope Francis, who venerated it devoutly. It was a point of reference for the entire vigil, beside the altar.


The dating of this icon of the Mother of God, kept at the Basilica of St. Mary Major and called since the 19th century “Salus Populi Romani," is controversial. It varies from the 7th to the 12th century.

Tradition maintains that it is a copy, painted by the evangelist Luke, of an image of Mary with Child that miraculously appeared in Lydda in a church built by the apostles Peter and John.

First preserved in Byzantium, it is told that the icon arrived in Rome by sea, welcomed by Pope Gregory the Great on the banks of the Tiber.

Cardinal Cesare Baronio, a Church historian, wrote that it was Pope Gregory who brought the icon to the Basilica of St. Mary Major in 590, at the end of a procession to invoke the cessation of one of the worst plagues in the city's history. On that occasion the archangel Michael was seen above the Mole Adriana putting his sword back into its sheath. The plague ended, and the Mole was given the name of Castel Sant'Angelo.

This icon was transported to the altar in front of the pope “by four halberdiers of the Swiss Guards and preceded by two little girls with bouquets of flowers. The icon was enthroned in front of Pope Francis, who venerated it devoutly. It was a point of reference for the entire vigil, beside the altar.”

I am wondering: would Bryan Cross and Jason Stellman feel creepy if they were to go and kneel in front of this painting, “venerating it devoutly”. Of course, they would only have to venerate it devoutly in the “hyper-dulia” sense, not the “laetria” sense.

Nevertheless, this sort of thing is what you buy into, when you buy into having an “infallible Magisterium” when you “make the assent of faith …. It is ultimately on divine authority that we must believe what we do as belonging to the deposit of faith “given once for all to the holy ones.” The main difference between Catholicism and conservative Protestantism as a whole is not about that, but about the “formal,” proximate object of faith. In other words, the two represent different answers to the question: Just which ensemble of secondary authorities must we trust, and in what relationship with each other, in order to reliably identify all and only what the primary object of faith wants us to believe, namely the deposit of faith?”

This painting of Mary, and the “devout veneration” thereof, falls within the “formal proximate object of faith”. This is God’s divine revelation, divinely revealed.

And here we have Pope Francis, “Bishop of Rome” Bergoglio, invoking the world to “devoutly venerate” this painting, and leading the world by example.

From the commentary given about this icon:

The display of the authentic icon of “Salus Populi Romani" at the conclusion of the fast called for by Pope Francis to obtain from the Lord, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary Mother of God, peace in Syria, in the Middle East, and over the whole face of the earth, has sounded out very many of the faithful.

What could be the meaning of the display of this icon, placed beside the altar and beside the Most Holy Sacrament, with a Pope Francis almost constantly in genuflection?

One can respond only by recalling that an icon can never be reduced to a painting, whatever may have been the artistic genius that produced it, because unlike a simple painting, which invites the gaze of the viewer to verify its harmony and beauty, the icon makes present, in its way, the very person who is represented.

Not only that. But since the icon is charged with the energy of faith that has been imparted to it by all those who in front of it, and thanks to it, have turned their hearts to the Lord, it distributes to all those who approach it with faith that which it has received.


  1. Why are they wearing the cone of shame?

    1. That was a popular way to represent "saints" in those days.