Mass at Cardinal Keeler’s titular church kicks off pilgrimage for Cardinal-designate O’Brien

February 15, 2012

By Ann M. Augherton
Special to the Review

ROME – The pilgrimage to Rome for Baltimore Apostolic Administrator Edwin F. O'Brien's elevation to the College of Cardinals began with a Mass celebrated by the cardinal-designate at his predecessor's titular church – Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri.
“In a special way we pray for Cardinal (William H.) Keeler,” Cardinal-designate O’Brien said during his homily Feb. 15, “keeping him in mind in this Eucharist especially.”
Each member of the College of Cardinals is the honorary pastor of a local – titular – church in Rome to reinforce the point that the “priests of Rome” elect the new pope.
Santa Maria degli Angeli was designed by Michelangelo in 1563 and built inside the walls of the baths of Diocletian. The church was dedicated to the Christian slaves who perished during constructions of the baths and to the Virgin Mary and the angels.
“Pilgrimages have always occupied an important place in Catholic piety,” Cardinal-designate O’Brien said, “especially those to the Holy Land and this Eternal City, the tombs of Peter and Paul.
“The image of pilgrimage – leaving something behind and advancing to something spiritually richer – is the vision of every life’s spiritual journey,” he said. “There’s always room and need to grow in faith.
The cardinal-designate prayed that the pilgrims would have a “fuller, richer view of Christ and his Universal Church.”
“In our day-to-day routines, we all can ease into a comfortable complacent zone, blind to the reality that we need a richer faith in Christ and his church, a deeper love of Christ and his church.
“With as fallible as we are, there is always room and need to grow in faith,” he said.
He emphasized the need for a richer faith in and a deeper love of Christ and his Church, and the desire to share that with others.
Cardinal-designate O’Brien stayed after the Mass to meet some of the pilgrims who came from the Archdiocese of Baltimore, the Order of the Holy Sepulcher, and the Washington, D.C., area, as well as the military. They included old friends who knew him as far back as his seminary days, or when he was a young priest, and others who met him during his years of ministry in Maryland.