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Friday, 21 September 2012

"God makes new doughnuts everyday." The Relics of St. Charles Borromeo

When I was in a lay community for many years, we used to say that title above, as we lived in Minneapolis, which was then doughnut land. The idea of the phrase was that nothing was stale but new and exciting, as fresh, hot doughnuts on a cold Minnesota morning.

Yesterday was one of those doughnut days. I go to see and touch the reliquaries of many saints and martyrs in a hidden cache in London. I got see the green, ordinary time chasuble of St. Charles Borromeo. And, I got to kiss the reliquary of his many bones, behind glass, as well as parts of his clothing and vestments.

This was almost too much, as Charles is a family name, with generations of Charles-es in my family and female variations thereof, such as Carola.

I claim St. Charles Borromeo as one of my patrons as well, because of the name connection and because of his influence in implementing the decrees of the Council of Trent.

What a fantastic patron for our times.

The Saint Bede Studio Blog has this on St. Charles.

St. Bede Studio Blog
Saint Charles laid down regulations about the dimensions of vestments for the Sacred Liturgy because, it would seem, he was concerned that the form of the vestments, which had been handed down for centuries, was being cast aside in favour of something convenient and “fashionable”. The chasuble, derived from the Latin word for “a little house” had been for centuries an ample garment. In the 15th and 16th centuries, there had been significant divergence from this Tradition, however, resulting in a form of chasuble that wasn’t ample, but cut right back so that it comprised a sort of narrow pendant, front and back, on the wearer. We know this form of chasuble as the “Roman” or “fiddleback” chasuble, and some claim that this is the form of the chasuble that is truly “traditional”. But Borromeo didn’t think that: he thought it represented a break with Tradition. And he specified the minimum size to which he expected chasubles to conform. They were to be at least 54 inches (138cm) wide and, at the back, they were to reach down almost to the heels of the wearer. Saint Charles wasn't attempting to determine how a chasuble should be decorated, he was simply trying to preserve a minimum standard for the dimensions of the chasuble.

The one I saw yesterday was just as grand as this one at St. Mary Major.

Some of the saints' relics were from Philip Neri, many martyrs, of the Popes Clement, Sylvester, and others. I am still overwhelmed.

The number of bones from St. Charles Borremeo was stunning.