Sunday, January 26, 2020 was a day Vincentians will not soon forget.
It all began in 2018 during SVdP International President General Renato Lima de Oliveira’s visit to the U.S. During a tour of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC, he looked around the Vincentian chapel. He wondered if it was possible to have a mosaic of Blessed Frederic Ozanam added.
Nearly two years later, a mosaic of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul’s founder, Blessed Frederic Ozanam, was dedicated during a special Mass at the Basilica.
“Both of the Vincentian Chapel’s original founding organizations, the Congregation of the Mission and the Daughters of Charity, enthusiastically supported Blessed Frederic’s inclusion,” said the Society’s U.S. National CEO Dave Barringer. “And then two committees and the full board of the National Basilica approved the artwork and its specific location.”
The mosaic was created by Travisanutto Mosaics of Spilimbergo, Italy. It measures 30 inches high and 20 inches wide and is constructed from approximately 4,000 stones. The mosaic is made of Smalti, which is a tempered glass and real gold leaf.
It was installed in the chapel prior to the Mass and was kept under cover until its reveal. The Basilica allowed the Society to invite its own celebrant to say the Mass. SVdP National Episcopal Advisor Bishop Donald J. Hying gave a moving homily that lit a fire in the hearts of not only Vincentians, but also the almost 3,000 people in attendance.
“Bishop Hying’s homily was wonderful!” said Vincentians from Garden City, South Carolina.
At the conclusion of the Mass, Vincentians processed with Bishop Hying and the other clergy members to the chapel where the Bishop offered a blessing and prayer. Then, together with National CEO Dave Barringer, the mosaic was revealed.
Following the dedication, and many photos, Vincentians moved to Heritage Hall in Fr. O’Connell Hall at Catholic University of America for a reception. There, attendees mingled and had the unique opportunity to view items from the National St. Vincent de Paul Archives that were on display.
National President Ralph Middlecamp shared a few words about the impact that Blessed Frederic Ozanam has had on the Society. He also presented Dr. Maria Mazzenga, Curator at the American Catholic History Research Center, with items to add to the archives.
This event was the culmination of years of work and preparation from not just the National SVdP Council, but also many other Councils including the Arlington, Baltimore and Washington, DC Councils.
“Our entire DC Council was moved to be a part of this unveiling of the Mosaic of Blessed Frederic at the Basilica. We were extremely touched to be included in this celebration of the 175th anniversary of the Society in the U.S. The Vincentian spirit has moved in each of us to re-double our efforts to help our neighbors in need,” said SVdP Washington, DC Council President Tommye Grant.
The Society continues to celebrate the 175th Anniversary of the founding of the Society in the U.S. all year long. The celebration will come to a close at the SVdP National Assembly, held where it all began, in St. Louis, Missouri in September.
The year 2020 does not just signify a new decade. It is a time of renewed faith and dedication to the mission that Blessed Frederic Ozanam started 187 years ago in Paris.
In the words of Frederic, “I would like to embrace the whole world in a network of charity.”
To see more photos from the Blessed Frederic Ozanam Mass, dedication, and reception, click here.
To watch the Mass and dedication on the Basilica’s YouTube page, click here.