Dominicans, Lepanto and More

Arches at Santa Sabina, Rome/Elizabeth Scalia

Arches at Santa Sabina, Rome/Elizabeth Scalia

Kathryn Jean Lopez and I recently commiserated with each other about how life as a writer/editor seems to translate into: “if you are awake, you’re working”. One need only look around the internet, or check the speaker’s schedule around the DC area and in New York to see how busy Lopez is, and yet she’s taken the time to contribute a piece to Patheos’ Book Club:

One of the saddest of sights, to me, is a locked door on a Catholic Church. Mercifully, I find them infrequently. And, all over the world—and all over this country—you can find open doors to the Blessed Sacrament at all hours.

Catholicism is an open door, and fittingly, that’s the image on Fr. Barron’s book cover. Welcome home. The light is on. It’s by the Blessed Sacrament during confession hours. There is mercy and sustenance here. There is everything you ever wanted or needed and everything you feel you don’t deserve. Christ thirsts for you. Go to Him.

It’s an open door that takes you into different corridors that ultimately all emanate from and lead to the Eucharist.

In her spare time, Lopez also managed, in anticipation of the Feast of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary to interview Sr. Mary Catharine, O.P, the Novice Mistress (and our dear friend) from The Monastery of Our Lady of the Rosary (aka the Seignadou Soap Sisters), and you’ll want to read it all, but here is an excerpt:

You and your sisters celebrated Rosary Sunday this past weekend. What was that all about, and why is it a different day than the feast this Friday on my Catholic calendar?

The feast of Our Lady of the Rosary was instituted by our Dominican brother Pope Pius V in 1571 in thanksgiving for the victory of the Battle of Lepanto, which pushed back the Muslim invaders. St. Pius V had called on all Catholics to intercede for victory through the prayer of the Rosary. Incidentally, until that time, the Hail Mary was only the first half of what we pray now. The rest was added about that time.

Pius V instituted the feast, first called Our Lady of Victories, on the first Sunday of October. Dominicans always kept it on that day in our calendar, even when the Church celebrated it on the 7th. Now, we celebrate Our Lady of the Rosary on the 7th. It’s the patronal feast of our monastery.

Shortly after we were founded in 1919, a group of lay women from Paterson, N.J., came on pilgrimage to honor Our Lady of the Rosary, and thus began the “Rosary Pilgrimages.” They grew and grew and, before World War II, there were as many as 30,000 who came for the big May pilgrimage. There were special buses and trains.

It’s really amazing because we were in a temporary monastery, not in the beautiful monastery we live in today. Nothing happened here, yet people came. We have a round stone chapel that was a shrine to Our Lady. People even experienced cures and left their crutches there. This grotto is now within the enclosure. Unfortunately, it needs a lot of repair, but the expenses are too great right now for us to be able to do it. Perhaps before our 100th anniversary it will be possible.

Actually the monastery is facing some serious repairs and is lacking in sufficient resources. Perhaps on this feast day of Our Lady those with special intentions or wishing to express thanksgiving might consider making a donation, as an offering to Our Lady for the benefit of these nuns so dedicated to praying for all of us.

Read Sr. Mary Catharine’s exceptionally lovely piece on the meaning of the Habit

All images mine.

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About Elizabeth Scalia