St. Benedict's Remains

St. Benedict's Remains  (1876) 
by The New York Times



The ceremony of depositing the relics of St. Benedict, recently transferred from the Church of St. Anzoni, at Rome, to the shrine prepared for them in the church attached to the Passionate Monastery, at West Hoboken, was performed yesterday afternoon with the pomp and splendor characteristic of the Roman Catholic Church. The life of this saint is almost completely buried in obscurity, nothing being known of him beyond the fact that he is believed to have suffered martyrdom in the third century of Christianity. The remains were discovered in the cemetery of St. Priscilla, in Rome, in 1671, and, have been pronounced by competent ecclesiastical authorities to be the remains of a young patrician martyr, were removed to the City of Spoleto, Italy, and there deposited in the Church of St. Benedict, Abbott and Confessor, where, as long as that edifice existed, they remained, and were held by the faithful in great veneration. When the Church of St. Benedict was demolished, and its site became a part of a public thoroughfare, the bones of the saint were presented by Decius Aneajani to a venerable parish priest named Casparmi, who a once transferred them to a shrine in the Church of St. Anzoni, in Rome, where they were found a few months ago in a remarkable state of preservation by an American lady named Sarah Peters. Mrs. Peters, being aware of the fact that the churches of this country were not in the possession of treasured relics of this nature, easily induced the Pastor of St. Anzoni's to present the bones of St. Benedict to the monastery of the Passionate Fathers in West Hoboken. On the arrival of the case containing them at the monastery, the seal, which had not been touched in 200 years, was broken by Bishop Corrigan, and the relics, consisting of the skull, spine, breast and thigh-bones, and other particles of the frame, were carefully removed to a richly mounted coffin-shaped glass case. The ceremony yesterday of transferring them to the shrine prepared for their reception, in an alcove situated to the left of the main altar of the monastic church, was witnessed by a vast congregation. Many of the persons present came from New-York, Jersey City, and even Brooklyn. The commencement of the services was announced to occur at 3 P. M., but so extensive were the preparations for the event that it was after 4 o'clock before the organ sounded the introductory processional, and the unique and impressive cortége appeared within the portals of the church. This procession, which preceded the celebration of Pontifical vespers, was headed by a cross-bearer clad in rich vestments, and supported on either side by acolytes with lighted tapers. About thirty other altar boys, also carrying tapers and walking two by two, followed immediately after. Next came the ladies of the sodality, their features partially obscured by long white veils, and after them the children of the Society of the Infant Jesus, dressed in white, each little girl carrying flowers to be laid at the new shrine of the saint. That portion of the pageant which attracted the greatest share of attention, however, was that which next appeared within the door of the edifice and slowly advanced up the centre aisle while the organist played a mournful dirge. First came about twenty priests, habited in black gowns and surplices, followed by four members of the order bearing on their shoulders a couch of yellow silk, ornamented with gold, lace on which reposed a life-like wax figure of St. Benedict, clad in a richly embroidered purple tunic and polished morocco sandals. In the right side of the neck, directly under the ear, a gaping wound, from which blood appeared to have escaped, was perceptible. Immediately to the rear of this bier followed other priests, carrying the glass-encased relics, literally covered with rare exotics and evergreens. Next came Right Rev. Bishop Corrigan and the officiating priests and chanters. The couch on which reposed the figure was placed on an elevated dais near the railing on the epistle side of the sanctuary. Branches of lighted tapers were placed at the head and foot, and there were large bouquets of flowers along the sides. The celebration of Pontifical vespers was next proceeded with, Bishop Corrigan officiating as celebrant, Father Victor as assistant priest, and Fathers Joseph, Dwyer, and Enscioniences as deacons of honor. Several visiting clergyman and Passionist students assisted. Previous to the benediction the Bishop preached a sermon, in which he gave a history of he finding of the remains of St. Benedict and a sketch of the lives and sufferings of the early Christian martyrs. The relics were left exposed to view in the sanctuary throughout the afternoon and evening, and were viewed by a large number of persons. To-day they will be informally placed in the receptacle under the altar dedicated to the honor of the saint.

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