Friday, September 7, 2012

September 7, 1879 - Consecration

Interior St. Patrick Church, pre 1904
The crowds made it difficult for the procession to take place.  All had been planned in accordance with the Rites of the Church.  The priests and congregation had been fasting, the vigil around the relics had taken place, and water was blessed to be used in abundance during the three hour ceremony.  Though it was 7 a.m. the police were needed for crowd control.  Over 60 priests and bishops and an innumerable amount of altar boys in cassock and surplice gathered led by the cross bearer to circle the church three times sprinkling the walls with holy water.  This was followed by Archbishop Williams using the base of his crosier to knock loudly on the closed doors of the church.  “Who is the King of Glory?” he would call out.  A voice inside would respond, “Christ the Lord.”  After the third call, the doors were opened and the Archbishop entered, leaving priest and people outside intoning the Litany of the Saints.  Inside the Archbishop spread ashes on the floor and with the tip of his crosier wrote the Greek alphabet.  Now the crowds entered.
The relics of Saints Patrick and Philip were placed within the altar stone of the main altar.  The marble altar was covered with oil and small fires were set on the corners.  Twelve crosses and candles were placed around the perimeter of the church.  The Pontifical Mass had not even started yet; these were merely the opening ceremonies.    Once the doors were opened everyone wanted entrance.  Admission tickets were sold well in advance with specific pews reserved.  Still thousands remained outside list trying to hear the Psalms and Responses.  There was much talk around town by Catholic and Non-Catholic alike on the question of selling tickets to such an occasion.  Some remarked that this was typically Catholic.  The music was Hayden’s 16th Mass, and the sermon was preached on how the faith has been passed on across the generations.  The Mass ended in early afternoon.  After a brief respite priests and people gathered at evening time for Vespers to sing the Te Deum (We praise you, O God.)
That event took place coincidentally 133 years ago today.  The altar that was consecrated is now in the lower church.  (It was moved there after the 1904 fire.  Contrary to popular belief, it did not fall through the floor.)  The relics of Sts. Patrick and Philip are still embedded in the altar stone.  A single admission ticket from the event survives, donated by a parish family who saw the historical significance.  Saint Patrick’s was only the second church to be given the title of consecrated.  This was a unique privilege honoring not only priests, but people. 

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