The most significant highlight of this year’s edition of the pilgrimage is probably its institutional character, as if it were a sort of official event of the Church. As a matter of fact, Archbishop Guido Pozzo, secretary of the Pontifical Ecclesia Dei Commission, has written to all the superiors of Ecclesia Dei institutes and communities, male and female, inviting them to participate. But another noteworthy highlight is to the clergy associated with the celebrations of the rites. Archbishop Emeritus of Bologna, Cardinal Carlo Caffarra, who was to have celebrated the solemn pontifical in St. Peters’s on Saturday, September 16th, but passed away September 6th, 2017, is on record for having been the first Cardinal and diocesan bishop to celebrate the Vetus ordo in Italy since the introduction of the liturgical reform. But as far as is known the Prefect of the Pontifical Household, Archbishop Georg Gänswein, who will preside over the inaugural solemn vespers on Thursday, September 14th, in the Basilica of San Marco Evangelista al Campidoglio in Piazza Venezia, has never publicly associated himself with the traditional liturgy. In a way, the same applies to Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, who is scheduled to speak at the conference on Thursday, September 14th, 2017, since as far as is known it’s the first time for him to give a lecture at an event specifically focused on the celebration of traditional liturgy.
Another highlight of this year’s pilgrimage is that Maestro Aurelio Porfiri, a musician disciple of Cardinal Domenico Bartolucci, conductor of the Sistine Chapel choir for decades, in thanksgiving to Benedict XVI, will lead the liturgical music he has purposefully composed for this occasion, thus showing that the ancient Roman liturgy is as lively as ever and can still offer new artistic and spiritual treasures to the universal Church. It ought to be remembered that Aurelio Porfiri, who is also director of the international magazine Altare Dei and author of books and essays on sacred music and liturgy, together with the American Peter A. Kwasniewski, a professor of theology and philosophy and choir director at Wyoming Catholic College, has launched the petition “A Statement on the Current Situation of Sacred Music” to Church authorities, calling for the restoration of the sacred in Church music. This petition was supported by more than 200 musicians, musicologists, and sacred-music experts around the world.
Moreover, as was the case in past occasions, the pilgrimage will coincide with the biennial assembly of the International Una Voce Federation (FIUV in the Latin acronym), that in turn will mark the 50th anniversary of the organization. Although the first FIUV sections were founded already a few years before, the need for an international coordination came about only in 1967 and its proceedings in Rome will see the launch of a book by one of its former presidents, Leo Darroch. He was elected to the Council of the FIUV in 1999, was appointed FIUV Secretary in 2001 under the presidency of Michael Davies and served as president from 2007–2013.
With his book, “Una Voce - The History of the Foederatio Internationalis Una Voce”, Leo Darroch presents in chronological order a factual history, fully referenced, of the work of the FIUV, documenting the decades-long struggle for the preservation of the traditional rite of the Mass, which ultimately culminated with the promulgation of the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum exactly ten years ago.
“With his masterly present work, Leo Darroch, the former President of the FIUV, has given to the present and the future generations of Catholics a valuable documentation of the glorious history of the noble battle of intrepid lay faithful, who were committed to the restoration of the perennial liturgical sense of the Church”, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Saint Mary in Astana, Msgr. Athanasius Schneider, was quoted as saying, “It was the battle of good sons and daughters for the honour and beauty of their mother, the Church. May the present book receive a wide diffusion and contribute in its readers a deeper appreciation of the perennial liturgical treasure of the Church, which is the classical Roman Rite”.
But how did the establishment of FIUV come about? As explained in its very portal, in 1964 an eminent psychologist in Norway, Borghild Krane, sent out an appeal to concerned Catholics to group together in defence of the Church's liturgical heritage. As a result of that appeal a number of national associations came into being in 1964-65. The first interim President of the nascent and inchoate Federation was His Serene Highness Duke Filippo Caffarelli. Delegates from six European associations met in Rome early in 1965 and the International Federation was formally erected in Zurich on 8 January 1967. Delegates from 20 associations approved the draft statutes and elected the first Council and a new President, Dr. Erich Vermehren de Saventhem.
“A renaissance will come: asceticism and adoration as the mainspring of direct total dedication to Christ will return. Confraternities of priests, vowed to celibacy and to an intense life of prayer and meditation will be formed. Religious will regroup themselves into houses of ‘strict observance’. A new form of ‘Liturgical Movement’ will come into being, led by young priests and attracting mainly young people”, were the prophetic words of Dr Eric de Saventhem in New York in June 1970 at the first General Assembly of FIUV in the United States. “It is vitally important that these new priests and religious, these new young people with ardent hearts, should find—if only in a corner of the rambling mansion of the Church—the treasure of a truly sacred liturgy still glowing softly in the night”.
In retrospect, one may well say that such night was definitely turned into daylight by Benedict XVI with his motu proprio Summorum Pontificum.