Jonathan Liedl lives in St. Paul, Minn., where he is a graduate fellow in the Catholic Studies program at the University of St. Thomas. He works as the communications coordinator for Catholic Rural Life, a non-profit devoted to revitalizing the Church in the countryside and applying Catholic teaching to rural issues. In addition to writing and editing for the Register, he is a contributing editor of the web-journal Ethika Politika. Liedl earned his bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Arabic Studies from the University of Notre Dame.
Throughout the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, you’ll find side altars dedicated to Marian apparitions from around the world.
Appropriate, considering that just outside the basilica today, Catholics of every tongue, color, and culture gathered as Pope Francis canonized now-saint Junípero Serra and celebrated Mass.
“You can see that this Church shows the face reflective of Africa, Central and South America, India, Asia, and Europe,” Cardinal Wuerl told Francis at the conclusion of Mass, as the diverse crowd of Americans cheered when their continent of origin was announced.
The Mass itself was a reflection of the great universality of the Church in America.
Pope Francis celebrated Mass in Spanish, and the readings and Gospel were offered in English, Spanish and Chochenyo, a Native American language. Petitions during the universal prayer were spoken in Korean, Vietnamese, Tagalog, Igbo, Creole, and even American Sign Language. And, of course, a healthy sprinkling of Latin was heard.
In the crowd itself, prior to Mass beginning, attendees waved flags of various nations, as they chanted in their native tongue.
The multi-cultural composition of this Catholic affair was especially appropriate considering the man who was being canonized: St. Junípero was a great missionary of the Church, bringing the faith to the indigenous peoples of California in the 18th century.
All in all, it was a brilliant, colorful illustration of the unified diversity that is the Catholic Church.