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Vatican Stamps–Those Tiny Evangelizers

Vince DiNoto

William Van Ornum - published on 08/30/14 - updated on 06/08/17

Fourth, the “400th Anniversary of the Death of Saint Camillus de Lellis.” Camillus founded the Order of the Clerks Regular, Ministers to the Sick. At his Angelus address on July 14, 2013, Pope Francis remarked, “The Samaritan does precisely this: he really imitates the mercy of God, mercy for those in need. … A man who lived to the full this Gospel of the Good Samaritan is St. Camillus de Lellis, patron saint of the sick and of health care workers.”

In addition to the customary vows, Camillians have a fourth vow—offering perpetual corporeal and spiritual assistance to the sick even with danger to one’s own life. When one thinks of Ebola and other fatal communicable diseases, this Order’s relevance may be singular. They also accept lay workers.

Fifth, another Patriarch of Venice is remembered with kindness in the “Centenary of the Death of Saint Pius X.” A dynamic priest, he showed great enthusiasm for pastoral duties and quickly was promoted to bishop. St. Pius X wrote an encyclical that challenged doctrines of the modernists. On August 2, 1914—the day Germany invaded Luxembourg, when the skirmish at Jonchery began, inaugurating the dreaded Western Front—the then-sickly Pope uttered his nearly last words. He died 2 weeks later but his plea for peace will move others for centuries to come:

“We therefore exhort that all approach the throne of grace and of mercy, as many Catholics as there are throughout the world, and in the first place men from the clergy; whose duty, moreover, it will be, at the command of bishops, to carry out public supplications in every single parish, that the merciful God, exhausted as it were by the prayers of the pious, may take away the destructive flames of war—the sooner the better—and that, beneficent, He may grant to those who preside over civil affairs to think thoughts of peace and not of affliction.”

The sixth stamp celebrates the “Beatification of Pope Paul VI.” The stamp shows this rather recent Pope offering the papal blessing. Although some people have criticized him for supposedly vacillating and others disagree with his decision on birth control (in Humanae Vitae, 1968), too few recall that he may have had the most difficult task of any recent Pope—keeping the Church together in a decade of explosive divisiveness. For this, he has our gratitude.

William Van Ornum is professor of psychology at Marist College and director of research and development/grants at American Mental Health Foundation in New York City. He studied theology and scripture at DePaul University.

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