Friday May 24, 2019

After 1800 years, Two Christian Martyrs’ remains from ancient Rome come to Louisville

St. Magnus and St. Bonosa lay in separate side altars at a Catholic Church in Louisville

St. Magnus and Bonosa. Image source: Wikimedia Commons .
  • Two Saints’ remains are placed at side altars of a Catholic Church
  • The Catholic Church was once the scene of a vicious mob attack
  • Restoration of the Church was done in 2012

In a city where its residence are more concerned with basketball, and horse racing you can find the holy skeletons of two saints. In one church you can find the ancient remains of St. Magnus and St. Bonosa.

St. Martin of Tours is a Catholic parish; one of the oldest parishes that belongs to the oldest inland archdiocese in the United States. Dating back to 1853, the church sprang up in the town of Phoenix Hall. Phoenix Hall was predominantly an immigrant neighborhood, and now it is mostly African American, said the atlasobscura report.

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In its beginnings that church served as a place of worship for mainly German immigrants. The cathedral was usually over packed, so they began attending mass at St. Martin of Tours. Unfortunately, the Catholics were not left alone to worship in peace.

In 1855, on Election Day, armed mobs attacked the church. The attackers were anti-immigrant, “Know-Nothings.” These folks were recognized as a political group who believed in conspiracy theories that Catholics were going to take over the United States. The “Know-Nothings” believed that there were weapons being stored inside of the church, so they decided to burn it down. Roughly 20 lives were lost during the riots. Outside of the church it is believed that whole Catholic families were burnt to death inside of their homes.

St. Martin of Tours Church. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
St. Martin of Tours Church. Wikimedia Commons.

 According to the atlasobscura report, the riot became known as “Bloody Monday.” It caused thousands of Catholics to pack up and leave the city; potentially the reason Louisville’s efforts to become a well known city were thwarted.

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On New Year’s Eve in 1901 two packages showed up at Louisville’s U.S. Customs Office. Although fifty years later the two packages had people wondering about the persecution of Catholics. Sent from Italy, inside the boxes were the remains of Saint Magnus and Bonosa. These two Roman martyrs were killed when Christianity was illegal in the Roman Empire.

Bonosa was a Roman virgin who was executed for her Catholic beliefs. It is uncertain whether she was executed during the 3rd century C.E. under Septimius Severus, or in the 4th century under Diocletian. Magnus, on the other hand, was a Roman centurion. Apparently, Magnus was so moved by Bonosa’s faith that he converted to Christianity, leading him to his own death. In another rendition of the story, Magnus jumped into the ring to save Bonosa and was killed on the spot. Even the Catholic Church struggles to identify Bonosa and Magnus, and the different stories do not help the matter, said the atlasobscura report.

How they ended up in Louisville is a more concrete story. In the 1800s Italy was going through turbulent times. Much of Italy was run by the papacy, and this caused an anti-clerical movement to spread across the country. This caused many monasteries to shut down, and people began fearing the remains of saints and other holy people as superstitious. The result was many of the remains being shipped to America.

In 1901, the bones were placed in side altars. Locals stitched regal garments for the remains, and crowns were placed on the skulls to represent the salvation of the two martyrs. The church underwent restoration in 2012, and so the remains were also spruced up. The old garments were now considered holy objects. As a form of respect, the rotting articles were burnt. A mass was said in Latin, and the bones were placed in new side altars on September 9, 2012.

-prepared by Abigail Andrea, an intern at NewsGram. Twitter @abby_kono


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Populism Facing Pre-Election Public Oppositions from European Catholic Clerics

The Catholic bishops from France, Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg y in opposition to nationalist populists

populism, pre election, catholic, european
FILE - A demonstrator holds a European flag during a protest in front of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, March 26, 2019. VOA

Catholic clerics in four northern European countries have taken the unprecedented step of urging their congregations to back pro-European Union parties in continent-wide elections later this month. The Catholic bishops from France, Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg have put themselves squarely in opposition to nationalist populists.

Praising the principle of solidarity and collaboration among nations, they warn that the EU is under threat.

The bishops urged Europeans to vote in the May 23-26 elections for the 751-seat EU parliament in a show of support for European unity and to promote “dialogue and integration between peoples.”

Analysts say this month’s election is possibly the most consequential since 1979, when Europeans first began casting ballots for a European parliament. The continent’s new breed of nationalist populists is eschewing pocketbook issues in campaigning and focusing on issues of national identity.

populism, pre election, europe, catholic
FILE – Pope Francis greets faithful from the balcony overlooking St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican, April 21, 2019. VOA

The bishops’ statement added, “The EU is threatened today by various economic, political, demographic and ideological crises — but we are convinced it has tools to overcome them.” The Church leaders said, “Some seek to oppose the EU and resort back to independent nations. We are certain solidarity and collaboration between nations is the most fruitful response we can offer.”

Signatories to the appeal include Archbishop Jean-Claude Hollerich of Luxembourg, president of the Brussels-based Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community, and a dozen other prelates. Hollerich told a German Catholic news agency, “Brexit, populism and nationalism” pose a threat to Europe.​

Populist parties

The appeal has drawn the ire of nationalist populists who accuse Church leaders of meddling in politics. It has become the latest flashpoint in a rhetorical battle between populists and church hierarchies in several European states.

Church leaders say they felt compelled to issue the appeal because of a surge in support for anti-establishment populists.

Populist parties, especially in Italy, Poland, Hungary and France, expect to make major gains in the elections. Pollsters are predicting euroskeptic populists will capture a third of the European parliament’s seats.

Pope Francis has spoken frequently against some aspects of the current surge in nationalist populism and recommenced instead a Christian populism. During an outdoor Mass last month, he told a crowd of 100,000 that “the only possible populism” is a Christian one that “listens to and serves the people without shouting, accusing, stirring up quarrels.”

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‘At war’ over migrants

The editor of L’Avvenire, the daily newspaper of the Italian Bishops Conference, has accused Matteo Salvini, the firebrand leader of Italy’s far-right Lega party, of being “at war” with the Catholic Church over the treatment of migrants.

Marco Tarquinio’s accusation followed a new anti-migrant law that aims to deny undocumented migrants access to shelters. The law also doubles the time undocumented migrants can be detained, and eliminates humanitarian grounds for granting asylum to migrants unless they’re specifically fleeing political persecution or war.

“In Italy, the war against solidarity networks, large and small, is becoming more bitter and aggressive each day,” Tarquinio wrote in the editorial, in which he condemned what he called the Italian government’s “hostility” toward charitable organizations.

On Monday, a close aide to Pope Francis drew Salvini’s ire by climbing through a manhole to reconnect the electricity supply to an abandoned government-owned building occupied by hundreds of homeless people, including migrants and children. Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, who distributes the Pope’s charity funds, broke a police seal to re-connect the electrical circuit.

populism, pre election, europe, catholic
FILE – Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini takes a selfie with supporters in Corleone, Sicily, Italy April 25, 2019. VOA

Rome’s left-leaning Ia Repubblica newspaper dubbed Krajewski “The Pope’s Robin Hood.” The building had been without power since May 6, when the circuits were cut because of more than $300,000 in unpaid bills.

“Defending illegality is never a good sign,” Salvini told reporters. “There are many Italians and even legal immigrants who pay their bills, even if with difficulty. People can do what they please, but as interior minister, I guarantee the rules.”

Nationalist populists do have supporters among prelates, especially in central Europe. A former Polish secretary-general of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community, Msgr. Piotr Mazurkiewicz, told the Catholic News Service recently that some “anti-establishment parties” had “sensible reform ideas,” and could be instrumental in encouraging EU institutions to adopt a “more conservative attitude to religion, family life and national identity.”(VOA)