Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Apostle of the Isle... and the States

Liturgically, it might rank as nothing more than an optional Lenten commemoration... that said, this day sees what's arguably -- at least, after Christmas -- the most-celebrated church feast of all.

Of course, it's St Patrick's Day, and there's no time like it to remember the role of the daughters and sons of Ireland -- laity, religious, clerics, literally by the millions -- whose work and witness have, more than any other, built the American Catholic project over its four centuries of existence.

Whether along the Pacific, the Lakes or the Gulf, in practically every parish, school and charitable institution, evidence of this immense legacy is almost omnipresent... still, its most emblematic, beloved sign comes in the Big Apple, its mother-church, named for Ireland's apostle, cherished far and wide as this "nation's parish."

With an Irish kid from Ballwin, Missouri watching from his cathedral steps for the first time, the 249th New York parade steps off at 11am Eastern (livestream)... before hitting 5th Avenue, though, the feast in Gotham invariably begins with Mass in St Patrick's Cathedral -- a liturgy which, by long-standing tradition, closes with the Irish and US national anthems....

Amid all the Irish potatoes and green beer, don't forget your Breastplate... and as a prior Gotham prelate once expressed his Paddymas tidings, "The top o' the morning, and all the rest of the day, too."

SVILUPPO: At the close of this morning's Mass in the "new" St Pat's, it was announced that the downtown predecessor of the Fifth Avenue icon, likewise dedicated to Eire's patron, had been elevated to the rank of a minor basilica.

Located in what's now Soho with a congregation still dominated by immigrants, St Patrick's Old Cathedral celebrated its bicentennial last summer, at which time Dolan announced that he had petitioned the designation from the Holy See -- a first for the New York church.

The proto-cathedral ceased as the seat of the city's archbishops on its Midtown successor's dedication in 1879. The new basilica's school, opened in 1816, will close at the end of the academic year.

PHOTO: St Patrick's Cathedral, New York, c. 1880