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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

EUCHARISTIC CONGRESSES: A WOMAN'S INTUITION

VATICAN CITY, 13 SEP 2011 (VIS) - Given below are excerpts taken from the article "A woman's intuition" by Lucetta Scaraffia, published recently by "L'Osservatore Romano" to coincide with the Pope's visit to Ancona for the closure of the twenty-fifth Italian National Eucharistic Congress.

"The first Eucharistic congress was held in the French city of Lille in 1881 under the emblematic title of 'The Eucharist saves the world'. That was the starting point for a whole series of national, diocesan and international Eucharistic congresses which have punctuated the history of modern Catholicism, until the most recent in Ancona.

"It is not widely known that the idea to hold these congresses came from a woman, a French woman called Emilie-Marie Tamisier, one of the many lay people to dedicate their lives to the defence of the Church at a time in which anti-Catholic polemics were particularly fierce. Tamisier, who had shown particular devotion to the Eucharist since her earliest childhood, had the idea of organising religious revival activities focused on Eucharistic worship, in an increasingly secularised world.

"The inspiration came to her while attending Mass for the consecration of France to the Sacred Heart in the chapel of the Visitation of Paray-le-Monial, the same place where Marguerite-Marie Alacoque had had the visions which gave rise to modern devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The link between these two forms of devotion is evident: they are both associated with the Body of Christ. ... Both of them present a sacred nucleus towards which we can orient our faith, a clear and universally understandable symbol in a world beset by many distractions, proposals and ideologies which tend to obfuscate the search for truth".

"At Tamisier's own request the first congress was due to be held at Liege in Belgium, the town of Julienne de Cornillon who had promoted the Feast of Corpus Domini, but for political reasons it was decided to hold it in France. Perhaps Tamisier wished to underline, if only implicitly, the fact that the idea for new forms of devotion, new feasts and new ways to encounter Christ had, on three occasions, come from a woman, a woman capable of imagining which model of religious life was most appropriate for rekindling the faith in moments of crisis".

"Tamisier felt that Eucharistic congresses were a modern way to involve a large public, to redirect attention to religious culture and its proposals for solving the problems of the time. The congresses were different from other gatherings in that they concentrated participants' attention not only on speeches and lectures, but above all on the Eucharist, celebrated with particular solemnity and intensity.

"However Tamisier had to work hard before seeing her project fulfilled. At first, in a period lasting some ten years, she limited herself to organising pilgrimages to French shrines that conserved traces of Eucharistic miracles. ... Only later, with the support and advice of certain prelates, did she manage to convince Pope Leo XIII of the importance of her project. She spared no efforts to this end, making journeys, collecting funds and dedicating her entire life to the promotion of what she saw as a new and effective way to draw public attention to the Church. Her efforts were tenacious and successful, but hidden (her name was never officially mentioned) and therefore largely forgotten, as has often been the case of work done by women in the Church".
LOR/ VIS 20110913 (580)

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