Nine years ago today, the picture you see above was taken. (I mean the banner picture, the one at the top of the page.)
Preacher met Big Daddy on March 9, 2000. Not today’s date, but the same liturgical day: I had the privilege of meeting Pope John Paul II on the Thursday after Ash Wednesday.
Back then, your silly Preacher was a seminarian on a pilgrimage to Rome for the Jubilee Year. I traveled with a group of aspiring priests from the seminary at Catholic University.
We were invited to join the Holy Father for his morning Mass in the chapel in the papal apartment in the Vatican. After Mass, he greeted us in his study, and a photographer from the Osservatore Romano took our picture as we each genuflected to kiss the Ring of the Fisherman.
So far this week, dear readers, we have considered St. Polycarp’s resignation to marytrdom AND the poet T.S. Eliot. As you remember, St. Polycarp neither sought martyrdom nor fled from it.
Eliot wrote a play in verse about the “troublesome priest” who was martyred by King Henry II of England in 1170, St. Thomas a Becket.
The play is about St. Thomas’ two temptations. Cowardice is by no means the stronger temptation. The stronger temptation is wilfully to seek martyrdom.
They killed the bishop in the cathedral, while he was saying Mass. Eliot’s play is called “Murder in the Cathedral.” It does not seem to be anywhere on the internet.
There is also a movie about St. Thomas, “Becket.” Here is one of the greatest scenes in the history of film: