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January 1

St Giuseppe Maria Tomasi - January 1

Saint Giuseppe Maria Tomasi

or Saint Joseph Mary Tomasi

Cardinal, 

(1649 – 1713)

Representing to your Holiness the obstacles and impediments, my grave sins, my passions ill-controlled, my ignorance and want of ability, and my conscience bound by vows never to accept any dignity, which make it imperative to implore from your Holiness the permission to refuse the honor.

St Giuseppe Maria Tomasi’s response to the Pope Clement XI’s request for him to be Cardinal

Saint’s Life Story

Devout Family

Giuseppe (Joseph) Maria (Mary) Tomasi was born at Licata, in Sicily, the Diocese of Agrigento, on September 12, 1649, the first son of Julius Tomasi and Rosalie Traina. Giuseppe was the son of the Duke of Palermo, Italy. Although his family was wealthy and influential, they were very devout. Four of his sisters became nuns and even his mother and father eventually entered religious life.

Entering the Theatines

After receiving an excellent education, Giuseppe, at the age of 16, was admitted into the Order of the Clerics Regular Theatine or the Theatines, founded by St. Cajetan of Thien in 1524. Giuseppe made his religious profession in the Theatine house of St. Joseph, at Palermo, on March 25, 1666.  

Continued Education

Giuseppe completed his studies of philosophy in Messina, Ferrara, Bologna and Modena, but was forced to the transfer for reasons of health. He studied Theology instead at Rome, in the House of San Andrea della Valle. In Rome, after having received the subdiaconate and the diaconate, on the Saturday of Advent, on December 23, 1673, Giuseppe was ordained a priest in the Lateran Basilica. Two days later, on the night of the Nativity, he celebrated his first Mass, in the church of San Silvestro al Quirinale, at that time the residence of the General House of the Theatine Fathers.

From his priestly ordination and in the same house of San Silvestro al Quirnale, for almost forty years, Giuseppe dedicated himself, with intense productivity, to piety and to assiduous studies. To his knowledge of Latin and Greek, acquired from adolescence, he added that of Hebrew, Syriac, Chaldean and Arabic.

Gifted Writer

Giuseppe devoted his great natural gifts to the methodical study of the liturgy and produced several very valuable works on the subject, including texts of the Sacramentaries and the Psalter. Tomasi’s works (Codici Tommasiani), published chiefly from ancient codices in the Vatican and Vallicellian Libraries and the Library of Christina of Sweden, were praised by the academies of Europe, even Protestants. Psalterium, according to the Roman and Gallican editions, published under the pen name of Giuseppe Maria Caro.

Giuseppe‘s many publications on liturgical subjects, in which piety was united with scholarship, motivated the titles which some of his contemporaries gave to him, those of “the Prince of the Roman Liturgists” and of “Liturgists” and of “Liturgical Doctor“.

Created Current Church Norms

In truth, not a few of the norms, established by the authority of the Roman Pontiffs and by the documents of the Second Vatican Council and today in use in the Church, were already proposed and ardently desired by Giuseppe, among which it is sufficient to recall:

  • the present-day form of the Liturgy of the Hours
  • the distinction and use of the Missal and of the Lectionary in the celebration of the Eucharist
  • various norms contained in the Roman Pontifical and in the Roman Ritual
  • the use of the vernacular instead of Latin outside of the sacred liturgy, which he himself recommended for private devotions and for the prayers made in common by the faithful outside.

All these were intended to promote a more intimate and personal participation of the people in the celebration of the liturgy.

In 1697, Giuseppe worked for the Vatican and, in 1704, he was appointed theologian to the congregation in charge of religious orders. Giuseppe’s efforts at reform were directed not to the introduction of the new, but to the restoration and maintenance of the old. He was not always upheld and was sometimes rebuked for his zeal.

Confessor and Cardinal

Giuseppe was the confessor of Cardinal Albani, who, upon being elected pope (Clement XI), was ordered by Giuseppe to accept the papacy under pain of mortal sin. The pope turned around and created him Cardinal Priest, with the title of the Church of Santi Silvestro e Martino ai Monti, commanding him to accept the honour. Giuseppe taught catechism to the children of the poor in his church, also introducing its congregants to the use of Gregorian chant.

Giuseppe continued his simple life even as a cardinal: his food was sparse, he went to choir with his community, and the only music he allowed at his Mass was plainsong accompanied by the organ. Even in this baroque age of over-wrought ornamentation in art and music, people from all parts of Rome flocked to hear him say Mass.

To all, Giuseppe was an example of profound humility, of the spirit of mortification and of sacrifice, of faithful observance, of meekness, poverty, piety, and filial devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. He helped the poor; he gave relief to the sick, both at home and in the hospital of St. John Lateran.

St Giuseppe Maria Tomasi photo  Incorrupt Body - by Eman Bonnici at Find a Grave

In late 1712, Giuseppe prophesied his own death and chose the spot for his burial in his church. He celebrated Christmas for the last time in spite of illness and later delirium. Giuseppe died on January 1, 1713, in Rome, Italy at the age of  63.

Beatified:           September 29, 1803 by Pope Pius VII

Canonized:        October 12, 1986 by Pope John Paul II

Feast Day:         January 1, January 3 (Theatines)

Patron Saint:    Catholic Liturgy

Source:

Reflection

Saint Giuseppe Maria Tommasi’s legacy of liturgical reform, scholarship and humble service to the poor serves as a reminder that we are all called to be servant to the Word first so that others might be led to Jesus Christ through our work.

How will you be a servant to the Word to all you encounter today?

Source: St. Giuseppe Maria Tommasi Feast Day: Jan. 1 | Faith Magazine

Prayers

Saint Giuseppe Maria Tomasi, may you intercede for us as we struggle between the balance between reading God’s word and putting into action these words. May we follow your example of scholarly readings and prayers combined with loving aid to the poor and needy.
Saint Giuseppe Maria Tomasi, pray for us. Amen.

Saint Links 

All Saints & Martyrs – Saint Giuseppe Maria Tomasi – Priest, Scholar, Reformer and Cardina

Catholic Online – St. Giuseppe Maria Tommasi

CatholicSaints.info – Saint Joseph Mary Tomasi

Faith: The Magazine of the Catholic Diocese of Lansing, Michigan – Look Back To Move Forward St. Giuseppe Maria Tommasi Feast Day: Jan. 1

National Catholic Register – The Patron Saint of Nothing Special, Really

New Advent – Paoli, F. (1909). Bl. Giuseppe Maria Tommasi. In The Catholic Encyclopedia

 

Vatican – Joseph Mary Tomasi (1649-1713) Cardinal, of the Order of Clerics Regular Theatine

 

WikipediaGiuseppe Maria Tomasi

Video Link

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