St. Michael the Archangel on Castel Sant'Angelo (Port Mobility)
As the world shuts down social interaction because of coronavirus, it is fitting that March 12th was the feast day of Pope St. Gregory the Great; who, in addition to being a Doctor of the Church, provided great leadership during the Roman plague of 590 A.D.
The plague, a continuation of Justinian's plague, claimed Pope St. Gregory's predecessor, Pope Pelagius II, and 100 million people, half the population of Europe, since 540.
Before he was elected Roman Pontiff, Pope St. Gregory began organizing daily Eucharistic processions through the streets of Rome and ending at the Basilica of Mary Major to ask for the Virgin Mary's intercession and protection.
According to Andrew J. Ekonomou, in Byzantine Rome and the Greek Popes, Pope St. Gregory led a large procession on April 25th, 590, including seven processional groups: 1) clergy, 2) abbots and monks, 3) abbesses and nuns, 4) men 5) married women 6) widows and 7) children. Eighty people collapsed during the processions as a result of being infected by plague.
As the procession approached the Tiber, St. Michael the Archangel appeared with a flaming sword standing on top of Hadrian's Mausoluem (which is today known as Castel Sant'Angelo precisely because of this story) and he sheathed it when the procession passed, which was interpreted to signify that God's wrath had been turned back.
The plague stopped at that moment, following which the faithful thanked the Mother of God.
Through the leadership of Pope St. Gregory and Holy Mother Church, society turned towards God, during the trials and tribulations of the plague. Unfortunately, the clergy in today's Church are not exemplifying such leadership and faith.
In the past two weeks, while other aspects of society are adjusting or closing, many Archdioceses have announced the prohibition of Communion on the tongue and the closure of Churches and Masses. Even though we are in the Lenten season, there are little to no calls for increased prayer and fasting as reparations for our sins and to beseech God to end the spread of coronavirus.
Where are the Rosary Novenas and Eucharistic processions?
The Church seems to be turning toward the world, like it does in most cases in today's modern world. On March 8th, the Vatican accepted the Italian government's decree to suspend all public masses, in an effort to limit social gatherings and fight the spread of the virus.
Thanks be to God, it appears that Pope St. Gregory the Great interceded on his feast day of March 12th. This Friday, the following day on March 13th, Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, Vicar of Rome, after meeting with Pope Francis, issued a letter to reopen Churches in Rome.
His Holiness, Pope Francis, cautioned the Cardinal of taking "drastic measures" and that "that the Church does not close its doors to anyone."
Nevertheless, the Pope's public message through Cardinal De Donatis lacked a strong theme of penance and reparation.
Please pray for Pope St. Gregory the Great, Our Lady, and St. Michael the Archangel to intercede and protect us from the coronavirus, strengthen the leadership of the clergy in the Catholic Church, and to calm God's wrath for the many sins of the world.
Remember to say God Bless You for those sneezing, it's a 14-century old pleasantry that originated during the Roman Plague of 590.
In Christ Crucified and the Most Victorious Heart of Jesus.