Sunday, April 22, 2007

B16 in Pavia: Two Saints, Two Popes

The Pope spent the weekend in Northern Italy, where today he paid homage to the remains of the saint he's called his "favorite": St Augustine, whose bones are enshrined at St Peter's... in Pavia.

Before praying at the resting place of the 5th century bishop and doctor of the church -- whose concept of the people of God was the topic of Joseph Ratzinger's doctoral dissertation -- B16 celebrated an outdoor liturgy at a local college, where he spoke of the three "decisive points" in Augstine's conversion, a topic the pontiff often alludes to in his extemporaneous public engagements when speaking of the church's contemporary challenges and opportunities.

But even more intriguingly, as "motumania" grips the (traditionalist) universe -- and National Catholic Reporter correspondent/blogger John Allen -- a related "backstory" of Benedict's two-day jaunt somehow got lost in the shuffle.

Until now, that is.

Writing from Rome, my Tablet colleague Robert Mickens notes that, once upon a time, a young cleric went through the same Pavia, where he taught for sixteen years. He ended up in Rome, becoming Grand Inquisitor of the Holy Office, and was then elected to the Chair of Peter.

If you're thinking Papa Ratzi, think again...

The priest-prof's name was Antonio Ghislieri. But he's better known as St Pius V. As in "Pian Rite." As in "Tridentine Mass." As in (not for nothing) his feast day being but a week away -- or a fortnight, for those a bit behind....

Behind the celebrant, that is.

AP/Stefano Rellandini