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Sessione 3
You are here:Home / Family News / NEF 2015 / Family News - 2015 May 14th / Life of the Congregation (2)
May 14, 2015

Life of the Congregation (2)

One hundred years of service

Life of the Congregation (2)

At 6h00 pm, the Via del Corso is thick with tourists from all parts of the world, but their attention is drawn by a strange and colourful cortege of pilgrims: the Japanese are filming it on their mobile phones this strange view of men dressed in the outfits of ancient confraternities of Monteporzio Catone, at the same time other tourists are wondering at what can be the meaning of litanies of Our Lady broadcast over the loud-speaker.

That’s how, on the afternoon of the 24th April, the celebrations marking the centenary of the presence of the Betharramite Fathers at the sanctuary of the Madonna del Miracoli, Piazza del Popolo. It was with this procession and the crowded Mass which followed, that the auxiliary Bishop, Mgr Matteo Zuppi, Fr Gaspar Fernandez scj, Fr Natale Re scj, rector, and Fr Michael Vignau, delegate of the regional Vicar and rector of the sanctuaries in Betharram, together with other confreres from different towns in Italy, recalled that day a hundred years ago when the Sacred Heart Fathers began their service in the church at the foot of the Pincio.

It’s not a church exactly like another church, but rather a sanctuary founded – in some hap hazard fashion or by providence! – after the miraculous rescue of a child from the waters, just like at Betharram. Such an event naturally ended up in a reflexion leading to the centenary celebrations of 25th April as part of the conference organised by the BetAgora communications centre on the theme “The Sacred Heart Priests and the pastoral care of worldwide sanctuaries”. In the course of their history, the Betharramites were often involved in caring for sanctuaries. It was a golden opportunity to reflect on the history and meaning of the event. This was well studied by Roberto Cornora, archivist of the congregation and Fr Ercole Ceriani scj, architect. The meaning was confirmed thanks to interesting information collected by Frs Mario Giussani, Enrico Frigerio and Tarcisio Giacomelli.

Marcellina Pedico, professor at the Pontifical University pointed out the pastoral projects of a “modern” sanctuary. Not only must a good liturgical construction and spirituality be on offer (the prayer groups which use the Miracoli church bear witness to this) but the sanctuary must promote opportunities for developing Christian culture and suggesting paths leading to the divine – for example the musical concert put on for the centenary. It must also offer spaces of charity in the solitude of the great cities and encourage ecumenical dialogues.

Thus the presence of religious in the sanctuary can be full of meaning. It can be a link with a pilgrimage or a tourist attraction but can also be a bridge in the search for faith or a more fulfilled life, for anyone who wishes. This is the type of church born of the reflexion of Pope Francis and which the Betharramite religious and laity from Lombardy and Tuscany greeted on St Peter’s Square, carrying a banner on their way past his window during his Sunday “Regina cœli”.

Roberto Beretta

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