Pueblo Seminarians pictured on a visit by Bishop Joseph C. Willging in 1945, to St. Thomas' seminary, Denver, are (left to right) first row: Clement Wozniak, Stephen Murowski, Bishop Willging, Peter Maas, and Paul Mendrick; middle row: Joseph Halloran, James Venuto, George Subotich, and George Holland; back row: Bernard Griesemer, Edward Pettit, Daniel Huber, Edward Wichmann, and Louis Stovick.
In the Pontifical Mass in the Sacred Heart Cathedral Easter Sunday, Bishop Joseph C. Willging promulgated a decree, received from the Holy See on the previous Good Friday, designating St. Therese of the Child Jesus as principal patron of the Diocese of Pueblo. The decree was read in Latin and English by Monsignor A.J. Miller, Vicar General. The statue of the newly created patron was enshrined on an altar near the Episcopal throne and was illuminated with a profusion of candles and vigil lights and surrounded with lilies. Later in the month special novenas will be held in every parish and institution of the diocese, honoring this heavenly patron and placing every portion of the diocese under her immediate protection.
The principal patron of a place, whether it is a country, a diocese, or a city, as was explained in the sermon following the promulgation, is that saint who is chosen according to the rules laid down in the Decree of Pope Urban VIII by the place as its special advocate with God. This choice must be confirmed by the Sovereign Pontiff himself by a special indult. Only a saint, and no Person of the Holy Trinity, may be chosen. The liturgy of the Church make a strict distinction between the patron of a place and the titular of a church. The titular may be a Divine Person, a mystery, a sacred object or a saint in whose name the church is solemnly blessed and after whom it is called.
The selection of the titular are not subject to the same formalities as the choice of a patron, nor is it subject to the approbation of the Holy Father. The Diocese of Pueblo is the only diocese in the United States proper that has been given as its patron St. Therese of the Child Jesus, who was recently designated, along with St. Joan of Arc, as the co-patron of France, and who was made with St. Francis Xavier, co-patron of all mission activities by Pope Pius XI.
Although the petition for this favor was presented to the Holy See by the Most Reverend Bishop some time ago, owing to the experience of war and other circumstances the Apostolic brief was not issued until Dec. 10 of last year. Referring, in his address on the occasion of his installation as Bishop of Pueblo, to the tradition that the first Mass was celebrated in Colorado on the very day that Christendom won its decisive victory at Lepanto through the intersession of the Blessed Virgin, who was then given the title of "Our Lady of Victory", Bishop Willging said: "Long before I was aware of this tradition I had determined to re-consecrate this diocese to the Sacred Heart and to place this diocese under the protection of Our Lady of Victory, the better to foster conquest for the Most Holy Trinity. And my first official act as Bishop of Pueblo is to place this infant diocese in the arms of Our Lady of Victory and under the tutelage of that saint who was so miraculously restored to life by Our Lady of Victory, proclaimed the greatest apostle of modern times and made patron of all missionary endeavor--St. Therese of the Child Jesus. Our Lady of Victory and the Little Flower are cognate in propagating spiritual victories for the Sacred Heart, the titular of this Cathedral. I carry her image in my pastoral staff as symbolic of all that our relations to God must mean, all summarized in the words, "love for God and man".
In the liturgy of the Church the feast of the patron of a diocese is celebrated with particular solemnity and ranks as a double rite of the first class with an octave. Except in the Carmelite order, The Feast of St. Therese of the Child Jesus is observed throughout the Catholic world on Oct. 3.
Special ceremonies, commemorating the designation of St. Therese as patron of the Diocese of Pueblo, will be held in St. Leander's church, Pueblo, at the diocesan shrine during the solemn public novena beginning April 21, 1945. This novena will be conducted by the Rev. Raymond Hillinger, a member of the archdiocesan mission band of Chicago.
This article originally appeared in The Denver Catholic Register on Thursday, April 5, 1945.
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