Wednesday, June 7, 2023

The Coronation Dove is Catholic

As I was doing my bedtime reading this evening, a short Spanish History of the Emperor Charlemagne, chapter 4 gives the miraculous Confirmation of King Clovis at Reims by Saint Remi, the dove, and the origin of the dove carrying chrism for the consecration of kings, the dove which we recently saw in the coronation of King Charles III.

Here is the account as I found it on a blog online.

The Holy Phial
June 26, 2012

Legend has it that, during Clovis’ baptism, a dove from Heaven brought a phial containing holy oil.

The History of France begins with a marvellous story. On 25 December 496, the streets of Reims are packed with a joyful crowd awaiting an extraordinary procession. The Franc Chief, Clovis, who has decided to convert to christianism, has to go, in great pomp, surrounded by the principal prelates of Gaul, from the former Palace of the Roman Governor, situated near the Basee Gate – porta Basilica – to the baptistery where Remi, Bishop of the little city, awaits him.

All of the streets are decorated. Gregoire de Tours tells us that “the squares were shaded by coloured hangings and the churches hung with white curtains”.

As for the pool where the new Christian was to be, according to the rite, plunged three times, it was splendidly decorated. The chronicler tells us, as well, that perfumes had been poured around and that odorous candles were burning, in such a way “that all the people were impregnated with a divine odour and that God was filling the spectators with such grace that they thought that they had been transported amongst the perfumes of Paradise”.

Along the streets, while waiting for the procession, well-informed people are saying that this baptism is the consequence of a vow that Clovis had made during a battle. For a long time, Clotilde – daughter of the Burgond King Chilperic -, whom he had married in 493, had been begging him to abandon the cult of the gods Wotan, Ziu and Freia, to convert to the religion of the Christ; but the Franc had been hesitating. However, a few months earlier, while he was fighting against the Alamans, luck seemed to be against him and he had addressed the heavens like this: “God of Clotilde, You whom my wife affirms to be the son of the living God, if you give me victory over these enemies, I will believe in You and will have myself baptized!” Immediately after this prayer, the Alamans had fled in great disorder. A miraculous victory for which Clovis rejoiced because it assured him the whole of northern Gaul with uncontested authority over the Gallo-Romans and the Germanic Francs…


The Remois, who are waiting and chatting near the Cathedral built by Saint Nicaise ninety-seven years earlier, are suddenly silent. A buzzing of religious chants is announcing the arrival of the cortege which soon arrives on the square. At its head is the Remois clergy preceded by a cross-bearer, then come Remi, who had instructed the King in christian dogmas, and different Bishops whose mitres, croziers and amethyst rings amaze the good people. Monks and clerics follow, singing hymns of glory. Finally, Clovis appears, alone, dressed in the white robe of catechumens. Behind him walk two young women whose ravishing names – Alborflede and Lantechilde – have been circulating through public rumour. They are his sisters. They too are to receive baptism, along with the three thousand warriors at the back of the cortege, three thousand Francs with enormous moustaches hanging on their virginal tunics, who are advancing and trying to look meditative.

The ceremony is therefore going to last all day and the little people display intense jubilation about it. Not that they are particularly fond of religious spectacles, but because they guess that there will be rejoicings attached to this one. The arrival of this crowd of new converts into the Church’s bosom is, in fact, going to be accompanied by feasts and drunkenness, these excesses being absolved in advance by their pious pretext.

When the cross-bearer arrives in front of the baptistery, the cortege stops. Remi then gives a sign to Clovis who walks with a firm step towards the pool, his long hair undone. With no hesitation, he enters the icy water, and the Bishop of Reims pronounces this sentence which would traverse the centuries: “Bow your head gently, proud Sicambre! Worship that which you have burnt, burn that which you have worshipped!…” After which, the King having confessed his faith in God All-Powerful and in the Trinity, Remi plunges his head into the water three times, in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.

Clovis leaves the pool, met by a priest who covers him in a big towel and rubs him down with respect. Dried, the King goes into a neighbouring room to dress in a new linen tunic. He re-appears immediately afterwards. The public, let into the bapistery, then gets ready to watch the second part of the ceremony: Confirmation. The ritual is known: the Bishop is going to anoint the newly baptized man’s forehead with holy oil; a few psalms will be sung and all will be finished. The drinking and feasting awaited by the little people could then begin. This is when a prodigious event takes place, related by Hincmar, Archbishop of Reims, in the IXth Century in his Vie de saint Remi, and which is still being recounted, more than one thousand three hundred years later.

Here are the facts such as he reports them:

“As Remi and Clovis were arriving at the baptistery, the cleric who was carrying the oil was stopped by the crowd, so that he was unable to get to the baptismal font. Therefore, at this font blessed by divine will, the holy oil was lacking. And as the crowd of people was preventing anyone from either entering or leaving the church, the holy pontiff, raising his eyes and hands to heaven, tacitly started to pray and shed tears. And suddenly, a dove whiter than snow brought in its beak a little phial full of holy oil, the suave odour of which, much superior to that of the incense and the candles, struck all who were present. The holy pontiff having taken this little phial, the dove disappeared.”

Immediately, Remi, completely untroubled by this marvel, proceeds to anoint Clovis with the holy oil that has been miraculously brought, before a crowd that must have been astounded…

After the ceremony, the holy phial – as its name will be from then on – was piously carried by Remi to a safe place. Later, it would be placed inside a dove of gold. Those who saw it tell us that it was in slightly opaque glass or crystal, that its size was that of an average fig, that its neck had a whiteish colour, that its stopper was made of red taffeta, and that the oil that it contained exhaled the most exquisite perfume. Some chroniclers, like Froissart in his Description of the Coronation of Charles VI, even affirm that the oil came back all on its own after each royal unction, and that its volume consequently never diminished. The Historian Dom Guillaume, in the XVIIth Century, assures us that a “famous doctor” whose name he unfortunately does not give us, believed that “this celestial balm had been made by the hands of angels”.

So, Clovis’ baptism is marked with a divine sign. And this sign would be used by the Kings of France for more than a thousand years for political ends. In fact, the celestial origin of the holy phial would raise France to the rank of eldest daughter of the Church, suggest the idea of a ceremony for the taking of power being integrated into the religious liturgy: Coronation; make this Coronation a true initiation capable of transforming the sovereign into a King-Priest and a Healer King – who could cure the King’s Evil, for example – in other words, give a sacred character to the royal function…

A marvellous adventure which would make all the sovereigns of the world jealous and lead the English Kings to “invent” a holy phial – Saint Thomas a Becket’s – so as to found their monarchy on bases just as solid as that of the French…

This holy phial, now a “divine sign”, was used during the Coronation of almost all of France’s Kings up until the Revolution. But on 16 Vendemiaire year II (7 October 1793), the Conventionnel Ruhl broke it with a hammer on the steps of Louis XV’s statue, in the middle of the Place Royale in Reims.

However, the holy phial did not disappear completely. A few pieces of debris containing a bit of balm were collected by Abbot Seraine, Curate of Saint-Remi. This balm, mixed with other blessed oils, was locked up in a new reliquary and was used for the Coronation of Charles X. All that is left of the oil used at Clovis’ baptism is still part of the Reims Cathedral’s treasure today…

For a long time, the holy phial was kept in a reliquary placed inside Saint Remi’s tomb. The holy phial was used for over one thousand years for the Coronation of France’s Kings. After the destruction of the holy phial during the Revolution, what was left of the original holy oil was collected and placed in a reliquary, by order of Charles X.

Saturday, June 3, 2023

How to Know God's Will: Fr. John Hardon

Q: Since we do not know what God is planning for us for tomorrow, what do you mean by “we should plan for the following day” since we don’t know what God is planning for us?

A: Thanks for the question. That’s one of the main reasons for praying. “Lord, what do you want me to do?” He, needless to say, knows the future. He knows what He wants us to do. Give a problem—my, there are no problems in life. No problems in life! Zero! What we call problems are all acts of Divine Providence.

God wants you to do something. You have a problem. Pray. Ask for light. Then, you find out what God wants. We still have a problem: we don’t want to do it! So we pray again, “Lord, now that I know what You want me to do, I’m scared, give me the grace to do it.” I would never have left my widowed mother alone, in very bad health, and entered the Society of Jesus, unless I had prayed that You help me to. What does God want me to do? I was accepted for medical school. So pray, and pardon me, since we don’t know what God is planning for us, mamma mia! Pray! Ask for light!

Q: How do you know when you have got the light from God? How do you know?

A: The first condition is you must be totally, completely open to God’s will. Ready. Write: “Lord, I don’t know what You want, but I mean it, I want to do Your will.” That’s the precondition. Then ask for light.

The thoughts you get about what you think now is God’s light telling you what to do. If that brings you peace of mind, that is God speaking to you. We are never, never, never thinking alone. Never, never. God is always thinking with us, for us, and enlightening us what He wants us to do. Being open to His will brings us peace--that doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy. Maybe we’ll be scared. So what? If I’m at peace, I’d do it. Now the beauty is, after a while you become so used to getting instructions from the Lord, you just assume. You are ready and willing, holding nothing back, “Whatever you will, Lord.” Then pray, and if the thoughts should come to your mind giving you peace, they are from God. If they disturb you, forget it.

Q: How can you be at peace if you are afraid?

A: Well, there are two kinds of peace. First of all, there is peace of mind, and there is peace of heart. Peace of mind is knowing the truth. Peace of heart is doing God’s will. Now, what we must do is constantly distinguish between our feelings and our mind and our will. Can we be afraid once we know what God wants? Can we be afraid? But, if my mind tells me something is God’s will and I’m afraid, do I not do it because I’m afraid? In other words, to not allow our fears to guide our minds, we must ask ourselves, why, why am I afraid? Am I afraid because I will fail? Am I afraid because I will make a fool of myself? I repeat, once my mind enlightened by faith, I must be open, really open, to doing God’s will. My mind tells me: “This is God’s will.” You can pray and ask God to give you strength to overcome your fear. But don’t you dare avoid doing it just because you are afraid! And as we say in Rome, oh, mamma mia! No. We have to have courage. And courage comes from conviction. My mind is sure that something is God’s will and I do it! I wouldn’t be standing here. I wouldn’t have done so many things I thought God wanted me to do if I were afraid. I could talk for hours! Thanks for the question!

Thursday, June 1, 2023

A New Litany of Humility

O Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like unto Thine.

From all pride and its effects, deliver me, Jesus.
From coveting greatness for its own sake or to excess, etc.
From contempt of You and Your law,
From a puffed-up self-image,
From claiming to be a self-made man,
From ingratitude for Your gifts,
From thinking that I have earned Your gifts by my effort alone,
From boasting of having what I do not have,
From excusing my faults while judging others,
From wishing to be the sole possessor of the skills I have,
From setting myself before others,

From all vainglory,
From craving praise for its own sake,
From looking for flattery,
From withholding glory from You,
From showing off to the harm of my neighbor,
From presumption and false self-confidence,
From boastfulness,
From hypocrisy,
From the excessive need to be fashionable,
From obstinacy and contention,
From disobedience,

From all false humility,
From forfeiting my dignity as a child of God,
From burying the talents that You gave me,
From an unreasonable fear of failure,
From avoiding my true vocation,
From despair at my weakness,

In the ways of humility, teach me, Jesus.
To know my limits and my strengths, etc.
To acknowledge the depravity of my past sins,
To acclaim You as the author of all the good I do,
To put my confidence in You,
To be subject to You and Your Church,
To be subject to others for Your sake,
To revere Your presence in others,
To rejoice in Your gifts in others, even the gifts unseen,

To do great things by Your help and for Your glory, strengthen me, Jesus.
To seek greatness in heavenly things and lasting virtue, etc.
To do my best even when unnoticed,
To put my share of Your gifts at Your service,
To be neither puffed up by honor nor downcast by shame,
To do penance for my sins and those of others,
Above all, to strive to love You with all my being,
And to love my neighbor as myself,

In Your name, I pray. Amen.

Father Joseph Hagan, O.P.


Plinthos Commentary

Father Hagan proposes this litany as an alternative to the popular Litany of Humility attributed to Cardinal Merry del Val. However, the problem might be in translation. The Spanish version of the del Val Litany is slightly but significantly different in the. What is more, the del Val version is apparently based on an earlier French version. It is instructive to look at the French version in popular use today, which is quite different in very important ways.

par le Cardinal Merry del Val

V. Ô Jésus, doux et humble de cœur,
R. Rendez mon cœur semblable au Vôtre.

De ma volonté propre, délivrez-moi Seigneur,
Du désir d’être estimé,
Du désir d’être affectionné,
Du désir d’être recherché,
Du désir d’être honoré,
Du désir d’être loué,
Du désir d’être préféré,
Du désir d’être consulté,
Du désir d’être approuvé,
Du désir d’être compris,
Du désir d’être visité,
De la crainte d’être humilié,
De la crainte d’être méprisé,
De la crainte d’être rebuté,
De la crainte d’être calomnié,
De la crainte d’être oublié,
De la crainte d’être raillé,
De la crainte d’être soupçonné,
De la crainte d’être injurié,
De la crainte d’être abandonné,
De la crainte d’être refusé,

Que d’autres soient plus aimés que moi, accordez-moi, Seigneur, de le désirer,
Que d’autres soient plus estimés que moi,
Que d’autres grandissent dans l’opinion et que je diminue,
Que d’autres soient loués et que je sois oublié,
Que d’autres soient employés et que je sois mis de côté,
Que d’autres soient préférés en tout,
Que d’autres soient plus saints que moi, pourvu que je le soit autant que je puis l’être,

D’être inconnu et pauvre, Seigneur, je veux me réjouir,
D’être dépourvu des perfections naturelles du corps et de l’esprit,
Qu’on ne pense pas à moi,
Qu’on m’occupe aux emplois les plus bas,
Qu’on ne daigne même pas se servir de moi,
Qu’on ne me demande jamais mon avis,
Qu’on me laisse à la dernière place,
Qu’on ne me fasse jamais de compliment,
Qu’on me blâme à temps et à contretemps,

V. Bienheureux ceux qui souffrent persécution pour la justice,
R. Car le Royaume des Cieux est à eux.

Dieu, qui résistez aux orgueilleux et donnez votre grâce aux humbles, accordez-nous la vraie humilité, celle dont Votre Fils unique a donné l’exemple à Ses fidèles, pour que jamais l’orgueil en nous ne provoque Votre colère, mais qu’au contraire notre soumission attire sur nous les dons de Votre grâce. Par le même Jésus-Christ, Votre Fils.

Compare that to the 1867 version (Wikipedia), a translation from the French. It would be important to establish the original French source.

Litany to Obtain Holy Humility (1867)

Lord have mercy, etc,
Jesus meek and humble of Heart, listen to my prayers, etc.
From the desire of being esteemed, O Jesus, deliver me.
From the desire of being known, O Jesus, deliver me.
From the desire of being praised, O Jesus, deliver me.
From the desire of being honoured, O Jesus, deliver me.
From the desire of being preferred, O Jesus, deliver me.
From the desire of being consulted, O Jesus, deliver me.
From the desire of being approved, O Jesus, deliver me.
From the desire of being spared, O Jesus, deliver me.
From the fear of being humbled, O Jesus, deliver me.
From the fear of being despised, O Jesus, deliver me.
From the fear of being rebuked, O Jesus, deliver me.
From the fear of being calumniated, O Jesus, deliver me.
From the fear of being forgotten, O Jesus, deliver me.
From the fear of being reviled, O Jesus, deliver me.
From the fear of being ill-treated, O Jesus, deliver me.
From the fear of being injured, O Jesus, deliver me.
O Mary, Mother of the humble, pray for me.
St. Joseph, patron of the humble, pray for me.
St. Michael, who first crushed pride, pray for me.
St. Francis, imitator of a master meek and humble, pray for me.
All ye holy spirits sanctified by humility, pray for me.


O sweet Jesus! meek and humble of Heart, make my heart like unto Thine, and give me the grace of final perseverance.
— The Fervent Adorer: Or, Practice Of Perpetual Adoration Of The Sacred Heart Of Jesus, As Recommended by Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...