Yesterday, for the feast of St Benedict, we posted the first part of our translation of the Apostolic Letter Pacis Nuntius, by which Pope Paul VI declared him to be the Patron Saint of Europe. This decree shares many of the same concerns about the role of the Faith and of the Church in the human civilization of which St John XXIII speaks in his Apostolic Constitution Veterum Sapientia, and is pertinent in no small measure to the mission of our institute because of the absolutely essential role which Benedictine monks played in the preservation of the “wisdom of the ancients.”
In 1980, Pope St John Paul II declared Ss Cyril and Methodius, the evangelizers of the Slavs, to be Co-Patrons of Europe along with St Benedict, and in 1999, bestowed the same title on Saints Bridget of Sweden, Catherine of Siena, and Theresa Benedicta of the Cross. May they all intercede for the restoration of justice and peace among the nations of Europe.
(The abbey of Monte Cassino, which, as mentioned in the Pope’s decree below, was destroyed during World War, but painstakingly and beautifully rebuilt. This was the fourth time the abbey was rebuilt since its original foundation by the Saint in 530 A.D. Multa cecidere ut altius resurgerent. Image from Wikimedia Commons by Serdir, CC BY-SA 2.0)
This same predecessor of ours (Pius XII) then desired that by the prayer of so renowned a man (as St Benedict), God might favor the undertakings of those who seek to unite these same people (i.e. the nations of Europe) in bonds of true fraternity. John XXIII, with that loving concern for which he was so eminent, also desirous of the same happy outcome. And we ourselves, heartily approve of these sorts of plans, which pertain to fostering unity among the nations of Europe. Wherefore we happily accede to the requests by which, from various parts of Europe, cardinals, archbishops, bishops, the heads of orders and religious congregations, and prominent laymen have asked us to declare Saint Benedict the patron of Europe. An outstanding opportunity is given to us to publicly proclaim his heavenly protection, since when today we reconsecrate to God in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St Benedict the church on Monte Cassino which was destroyed in 1944, as war was raging throughout the world, but has been rebuilt by invincible piety. This we are assuredly very glad to do, in imitation of some of our predecessors, who through the course of ages dedicated this same house of religion and monastic life, which is celebrated above all as the burial place of St Benedict.
Therefore, may this excellent Saint favor our prayers, and as once he dispelled the darkness with the light of Christianity and imparted the gifts of peace, so now may he watch over the affairs of Europe, and mercifully promote them with all the more greatly each day. And thus, having consulted the Sacred Congregation for Rites, with certain knowledge and mature deliberation, and with the fullness of our Apostolic authority, by force of these letters, and perpetually, we establish and declare Saint Benedict the Abbot the principal heavenly patron of all of Europe before God, with all of the privileges and honors which rightly belong to the chief patrons of a place.
The remainder is a traditional series of legal formulas by which the authority of the Papacy made such acts binding on the Church.
All things to the contrary notwithstanding. These things we put forth and establish, decreeing that these present letters are and shall always remain unchanged, valid, and in effect; that their full and complete effects obtain; and that they most fully favor those to whom they pertain or shall ever pertain now and henceforth; and are duly so to be judged and defined; and henceforth, if anything whatsoever shall happen to be attempted to the contrary in these matters, by anyone, and on whatsoever authority, whether knowingly or unknowingly, it shall be invalid and without effect.