Thursday, September 29, 2011

For New Orleans' "Giant," A Fitting Sendoff

Having died in the bed where his mother bore eight children in accord with his long-standing wish, Archbishop Philip Hannan's final farewell to his beloved New Orleans will take place next Thursday, 6 October, at a 2pm Mass in St Louis Cathedral on Jackson Square.

Ending with his burial alongside his predecessors in the basilica's crypt, the liturgy will cap a four-day funeral slated to begin Monday with a two-day wake at the Crescent City's Notre Dame Seminary. On Wednesday afternoon, the 11th archbishop's body will be processed to the cathedral, whose place as Catholicism's historic seat in the Southern United States dates to 1793, when the diocese of Louisiana and the Two Floridas was erected a decade before the Louisiana Purchase.

The latest of four churches on the spot since 1718, St Louis' current building dates to the mid-19th century.

New Orleans became an archdiocese in 1850, when it was elevated on the same day as the dioceses of Cincinnati and New York. Three years earlier, NOLA's onetime suffragan church at St Louis became the nation's second metropolitan see, its province then encompassing the entire middle of the country.

As previously noted, the rites will be the Big Easy's first sendoff of an archbishop since November 1964, when Joseph Francis Rummel died in office aged 88, four months shy of his 30th anniversary in the post.

On his death, Rummel was succeeded by his longtime coadjutor, Archbishop John Cody, whose tenure would prove short-lived, but not for reasons of health; all of seven months after taking the reins of the New Orleans church, the St Louis native was transferred to Chicago.

Embattled for much of his tenure in the Windy City, Cody became a cardinal in 1967 and died in 1982. As in New Orleans, he would be succeeded by another giant of 20th century American Catholicism... but one with whom Hannan tended to clash.