Saturday, January 25, 2020, the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul and the Foundation of the Congregation of the Mission, marked the beginning of the pilgrimage of Saint Vincent’s relics to the countries of Slovenia, Serbia, Northern Macedonia, and Croatia. This pilgrimage began in Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, where the Vincentian Family gathered with faith and joy to receive, the relics of the Saint of Charity. The Eucharistic celebration, in which the relics were received, was presided over by Archbishop Anton Stres, CM, Archbishop Emeritus of Ljubljana, together with several priests of the Congregation of the Mission.
In the homily, Archbishop Anton Stres presented the “coincidences” between Saint Paul’s evangelizing mission and Saint Vincent’s life and work, his dedication to the poor and neediest.
On the first Sunday of February, the memorial of the venerable Servant of God, Bishop Janez Frančišek Gnidovec, CM, was celebrated. He died on 3 February 1939 and, since his exhumation, his mortal remains rest in this Church. Priests, deacons, seminarians, and parishioners, who are praying for his beatification, participated in the celebration. The Eucharist was presided by Maksimilian File, Abbot of the Cistercian Abbey in Slovenia, founded in 1136 at the time of its founder Saint Bernard of Clairvaux.
The relics were venerated in several communities of the Daughters of Charity in Ljubljana and the Saint Catherine Labouré Nursing Home in Menges, where the elderly and sick Sisters reside. They were also venerated at the Provincial House of the Daughters of Charity and Saint James Apostle Parish, which the members of the Congregation of the Mission serve. This week the relics are in Mirenski Grad at the Shrine of the Sorrowful Virgin (near the border of Italy). They will remain there for a week.
A special program has been prepared in every place where the relics are received and it is hoped that these celebrations with to make Saint Vincent better known to the people. In addition, this pilgrimage has been used to present three other examples of holiness in the Vincentian charism: Mother Leopoldine Brandis,a Daughter of Charity; Bishop Janez Frančišek Gnidovec, CM, (Bishop of Skopje-Prizren in Northern Macedonia); and the martyr, Janez Strašek, CM. In all three cases, the beatification processes are underway and are at different stages.
The relics will be venerated in the regions of Slovenia, where the Vincentian Family is present, and, on 22 March, they will be venerated in Northern Macedonia and Serbia and finally in Croatia … then they will be returned to Naples, Italy at the end of April 2020.
The reception of the relics is for us a moment of reflection and joy. We feel the closeness of Saint Vincent. His example helps us to continue living the charism that he began more than 400 years ago. It should be noted that the fervent desire of the members of the Congregation of the Mission, the Daughters of Charity, and the entire Vincentian Family is to continue living the legacy of the Founders and to continue on this path of service on behalf of those who are most needy.
We ask our Father in heaven, through the intercession of Saint Vincent, to send workers into his harvest to respond to the many needs of the people.
Pavle Novak, CM
Province of Slovenia