This calendar of saints is drawn from several denominations, sects, and traditions. Although it will no longer be updated daily, the index on the right will guide visitors to a saint celebrated on any day they choose. Additional saints will be added as they present themselves to Major.

Monday, December 17, 2012

December 17 -- Feast of Saint José Manyanet y Vives

Saint José Manyanet
Sons of the Holy Family
Today seems like a good day for a tangent.  I wish that weren't a reflection on Saint Jose Manyanet y Vives, but the truth is that his long life of dedicated service to God and the Holy Family doesn't offer me much to write about.  In 1864, he founded the Congregation of the Sons of the Holy Family, an organization dedicated to strengthening families by upholding the example of Joseph, Mary, and Jesus.  Ten years later, he founded the Missionary Daughters of the Holy Family of Nazareth.  Those institutions are still active on four continents.  Apart from these big accomplishments, his bio is rather like a résumé: private secretary to the Bishop of Urgell, seminary librarian, chancery administrator, and secretary for pastoral visitations.  He was the author of numerous books and pamphlets; he also founded a magazine dedicated to the Holy Family.  He was even grateful for the prolonged illness and open sores on his side: God's mercies, he called them with no hint of irony.  As a native of Catalan, he was a supporter of the controversial Basilica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família, and that gets me to my tangent. 

Boccabella: ought to be an SOG
The expiatory temple was not Saint José Manyanet's idea.  It was instead the idea of a bookseller named Josep Maria Boccabella i Verdaguer, founder in 1866 of an association dedicated to Saint Joseph.  Fortunately, the two groups were complementary rather than rivals, and while I can find no reference to contact or conference between them, I figure at least Manyanet's magazine must have supported the construction project. 

Gaudi: SOG
Ground was broken for the Sagrada Família in 1882.  The estimated year of completion is 2026.  The original architect planned a typical Gothic church but quit after one year.  The project engineer declined to take over as the architect, so the work was entrusted to Antoni Gaudi in 1883.  When Gaudi died, about one-fifth of it was completed, but about the pace of the work he had said, "My client is not in a hurry."  [Gaudi, by the way, is celebrated as a Servant of God, three steps below a saint but at least one ahead of the rest of us.]  The building was consecrated in 2010 and is recognized by the Roman Catholic Church as a Basilica Minor. 

The real church, so far
Gaudi's model
That got me to wondering what a basilica is.  I know that a cathedral is the home church of a bishop.  Among the objections to the basilica was the fear that it would detract from or overshadow the Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia in Barcelona.  Given that the very first line of the wikipedia entry for the Cathedral is "Not to be confused with the Sagrada Família..." I'd say the fear was justified.  Similarly, St. Matthew's Cathedral in Washington DC is where Donald Cardinal Wuerl sits on his throne (cathdra), but the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception is the larger, more celebrated church. To gild that lily with another example, the Pope's cathedral is the Archbasilica of Saint John Lateran, but he regularly preaches at Saint Peter's Basilica, one of four major basilicas in Rome.  [The other two are Saint Mary Major and Saint Paul Outside the Walls.] 

Holy Family: Chrisitan
Holy Family: Hindu
So, about that distinction... A basilica, originally a Greek-derived word for a Roman public building, is a specially designated church that serves as a destination for pilgrims. A pilgrim, for my American friends, is not a blunderbuss-toting turkey-eater who lived on Cape Cod, but rather one who travels for religious reasons. 

All that took me pretty far afield from Saint Jose Manyanet y Vives, a man who was apparently more concerned with the lives of people than with buildings.  As I move to conclude this too-lengthy post, I figure I should probably put up a picture of the Holy Family, and as I do it, I cannot resist the universalist impulse to post another Faith's Holy Family as well.  I hope that both Saint Josés would be pleased by the comparison. 

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