Monday, August 03, 2009

Mass over the bones of a saint

On Friday, I had the unique experience of offering Mass over the bones of St. John Neumann, bishop of Philadelphia.

If you travel to the Philadelphia area, find St. Peter's Church on the near north side; it's just up 5th Street from I-676, comparatively easy to get to; it has a parking lot, although I found parking on the street.

The shrine to the saint is in a basement chapel, which is fairly large, filling the entire basement. A nice number of folks came for the 12:15 pm Mass--before which, two priests were hearing confessions.

I'm sorry I have no pictures--I have an "antique" cell phone (meaning more than 3 years old) that has no camera built in. The altar is designed to accommodate a clear sarcophagus, in which the remains of the saint are on display. According to the parish web site, St. John's body is not incorrupt; his remains are vested, and a mask of his face covers the head. The priest who was the celebrant--I concelebrated--informed me after Mass that the remains were recently "redressed," and were thus examined at that time. He said some experts from Rome came for that, and it was a big deal. About the present state of his remains I chose not to inquire.

It occurs to me that for all the saints we have from this country, this is the first time I've offered Mass at a shrine connected to any of them; whereas I have visited shrines connected with saints in Rome. I shall have to consider such a tour.

Do you have any stories or information about shrines for our American saints? Please post them in the comments, especially if you've visited. I'm embarrassed to admit I don't even know where the rest of their remains repose. Something to look up!


Tom said...

At St. Peter's, you were less than an hour's drive from the Shrine of Saint Katharine Drexel, up the road in Bensalem, PA, at her Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament motherhouse.

I haven't been there since St. Katharine was canonized, so I'm not sure what all they've done to accomodate the additional pilgrims a full-fledged saint attracts.

matthew archbold said...

wish I could've been there. I live in Philly but I'm actually up in New York this week.