The Archivist’s Nook: Are there any CUA Saints? – A Crash Course in Canonization

Imagine this scene transposed onto campus yesterday. Canonization Mass for St. Mary Gorreti, 1950. (Courtesy: Archbishop Martin J. O’Connor Papers)
Imagine this scene transposed onto campus yesterday. Canonization Mass for St. Mary Gorreti, 1950. (Courtesy: Archbishop Martin J. O’Connor Papers)

At the time of this writing, Brookland is winding down after hosting North America’s first canonization mass. During his visit yesterday, Pope Francis canonized St. Juniperro Serra. While this new saint never set foot on the campus, this does not mean that CUA has no direct connections with any holy figures. In addition to visits from popes and presidents, several alumni currently have open causes for canonization.

Saints come in all shapes and sizes. A classic image of the saint may be one of a faithful martyr or a robed missionary, such as Serra. We may even think of them as primarily ancient or medieval figures. However, the modern age has seen a flourishing of canonizations. Yesterday’s ceremony was the culmination of decades of investigations, advocacy, and devotion. The process to being declared a saint is complex, with a number of steps and inquiries along the way. Beginning as a Servant of God, individuals with an open cause may eventually proceed to Venerable to Blessed and, finally, to Saint. Some figures, like Serra, may be held at one stage for decades (or even centuries!), while others may move along in the process more quickly. This process has a long history, stretching back to the earliest days of Christianity, although the papacy itself was not always directly involved. Continue reading “The Archivist’s Nook: Are there any CUA Saints? – A Crash Course in Canonization”

The Archivist’s Nook: A Brief Meditation on Presidents, Popes, and Power on the Eve of Pope Francis’ Visit

This popular 1871 Thomas Nast cartoon reflects the anti-Catholicism present in the U.S. at the time. Inviting the pope to address Congress would have been unthinkable back in the nineteenth century.
This popular 1871 Thomas Nast cartoon reflects the anti-Catholicism present in the U.S. at the time. Inviting the pope to address Congress would have been unthinkable back in the nineteenth century.

Believe it or not, U.S. Presidents once upon a time came to Catholic University for the most mundane of events.  When the cornerstone for Caldwell (then Divinity) Hall was laid in 1888, President Grover Cleveland was there.  When the University formally opened a year later, President Benjamin Harrison showed up for the festivities, despite the downpour.  Friends with Rector Thomas Conaty, William McKinley visited him at CUA in 1900.

Quite by accident, Theodore Roosevelt meandered over to the University grounds on his horse in 1905, though he seemed to enjoy chatting up some of the CUA’s first undergrads once he found himself on what we today call the quad.   The less loquacious Calvin Coolidge showed up for the dedication of Mullen Library in 1924—there are no reports of “Silent Cal” being shushed by librarians.

Oddly enough, these presidents visited when anti-Catholicism in the U.S. was in full-swing.  Catholics were generally reviled by most non-Catholic Americans until the election of 1960, when John F. Kennedy was elected President (Kennedy came to the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception when he was a Senator, but not as President). Continue reading “The Archivist’s Nook: A Brief Meditation on Presidents, Popes, and Power on the Eve of Pope Francis’ Visit”