On the Feast of the Holy Trinity, 10 years ago, the Passionist, Father Charles of Mount Argus was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI in St. Peter’s Square in Rome. It was June 3rd 2007. As Rector of Mount Argus at the time I was also Vice-Postulator of the cause. The announcement of the canonization had taken us by surprise but had also delighted us. When it was first announced we were given no date and we speculated that the earliest it would be was October 2007, which was still going to be tight in terms of organizing everything that would need to be done. In February I travelled to Rome with Father Paul Francis where we attended a ceremony in the Vatican when the date was announced. It was quite hard to hear but when the announcement was made I turned to Father Paul Francis and said, “please tell me he didn’t say June 3rd”, and Father Paul Francis said, “he did”. I had arranged with the pilgrimage organizers in Ireland that I would phone them as soon as the date was known so that they could swing into action and make plans for all the pilgrims who would want to go to Rome. I could hear their gasps of incredulity when I told them how soon it was.
The pilgrimage, however, was only one of the things that had to be organised, there were so many other things to do as well, both for the celebrations in Rome and also the celebrations in Dublin for those who couldn’t go to Rome. A wonderful team of volunteers, each with their own devotion to Father Charles, assembled in a labour of love to make sure everything was done just right. I myself would stay behind for three days of joyous and thronged celebrations in Mount Argus to coincide with events in Rome. In both places, on the day of the canonization, it poured from the heavens, but our spirits were never dampened.
There were many memorable moments leading up to the big day and one of them concerns a family who came to see me bearing two cups and a saucer and a story to tell. In the late 19th Century this family’s forebears ran a butcher’s shop in inner city Dublin. One of the sons of the family developed a severe illness in his late teens, following an operation for appendicitis and, as a result, the young man was in an unconscious condition for over a week. In deep distress, his mother asked for Father Charles of Mount Argus to be sent for. Father Charles, renowned for his availability to the sick, duly responded and arrived at the house accompanied by a companion. This was probably Brother Michael, who often accompanied Father Charles to various places. As was recorded at the time by the boy’s younger sister, Father Charles prayed over her brother and, very soon after, the boy woke up from his coma.
Before they left the house, Father Charles and his companion were given some tea. The two cups they drank from were kept and treasured by the family ever since. The only problem was, they forgot to mark which one had been used by Father Charles. After this, the only time the cups were used was when a family member got sick, in which case they were encouraged to drink from both cups, just to make sure that they drank from the “Father Charles Cup”. So now these two, very old, a little bit cracked, bone china cups, were given to Mount Argus, together with one saucer, the other having been broken or lost along the way. They now sit in a display case in the exhibition area in Mount Argus commemorating Saint Charles.
Heavenly Father, you filled Saint Charles with your Holy Spirit. In love with Christ Crucified he spent his life in prayer at the foot of the Cross. From the Cross he went forth to bring Good News to the poor, to heal the sick, to comfort the dying, and to bring forgiveness to the sinner. Look now on your people who cry to you. Through the intercession of Saint Charles give us the graces we need. Heal our aches and pains, our hurts and wounds, our anxieties and bad memories. Free us from depressions, habits of sin, and all evil. Strengthen our faith, deepen our hope, and increase our love. We make our prayer through Christ our Lord. Amen.