Novena for the Canonization of Blessed Dominic Barberi
His Grace the Archbishop has asked the whole diocese to make a novena for the canonization of Blessed Dominic of the Mother of God, the great Passionist missionary, who received Blessed John Henry Newman into the Church in 1845.
We are making this prayer at all Masses, leading up to Saturday, when the Archbishop will be celebrating Mass for this intention at SS Giovanni & Paolo, the Passionist Generalate Church in Rome.
On display in our Relic Chapel at the moment is an autograph letter of Blessed Dominic:
The letter came into our possession by the kindness of the Benedictine nuns of the Priory of Our Lady of the Angels, formerly at Fernham. It reads as follows:
A Letter from Blessed Dominic Barberi
J.X.P. Poplar Lodge West End
Hampstead June 18 / 48
My dear Child in Jesu Christ. This morning I had the honour of receiving your kind letter with the inclose bank note for £ 30 This sum will serve admirably to furnish this new lodge we are to establish here. May Almighty God give an eternal reward for your great great charity and give eternal rest to the soul of your dear mother. I shall offer the Holy sacrifice of Mass for a month for the rest of her soul or according to your in/tention in ye case she is not in need of our prayers, as I hope to be the case.
And now my dear child, I pray to congratulate with you for your great happiness of having made your profession. You are now and for ever a spouse of Jesus Christ. Oh! what a happiness!! If everybody could penetrate it the world might be at an end: it would become a rarified firmament. Follow then, serve God with gladness and bear the cross that God will prepare for you: do not imagine to reach the religious protection without a cross. But this is the greatest hap/piness to bear company to our Lord in the way to the calvary as long as we live.
I beg of you to present my humble respects to the Lady Abbess, and all the community. Pray if you please very much for me, and for this new establishment, that is not made as yet.
Since I saw you last I have lost two of my best companions, and now another is on the point of death. Pray for him and for yours sincerely in Xrt Dominic of the mother of God Passionist.
Probably the letter was written by Blessed Dominic to a recently-professed nun of Princethorpe (whence the community later moved to Fernham).
Blessed Dominic sends his humble respects to the "Lady Abbess" - but this is probably an instance of his well-known whimsical humour, since Our Lady, Queen of Peace was Abbess of Princethorpe. This was because in 1658, when the nuns were still at Montargis, near Orleans, in order to prevent King Louis XIV from imposing an absentee abbess, the Prioress assembled the community in chapter and suggested that Our Lady of Peace, to whom they had a special devotion, be elected as abbess in perpetuity. The vote was carried unanimously, and July 2nd was chosen as the day for the installation of Our Lady as Abbess. Hence, for the whole of its subsequent history, the community had Our Lady as the Abbess, and a statue of her in the first place in choir, holding a crosier. Therefore when Blessed Dominic says, "I beg of you to present my humble respects to the Lady Abbess", he is probably asking his spiritual child to say a Hail Mary for him.