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A History Of The Mass And Its Ceremonies In The Eastern And Western Church -Rev John O'Brien A.M.

At Messina, in Sicily, there is said to be an altar in which is enclosed, as a most precious relic, a letter written by the Mother of God herself. The history of this curious letter is as follows: Tradition has it that the Messinese received the faith direct from the Prince of the Apostles himself during his Roman Pontificate. Their cathedral is one of the most august in Europe, and the most venerable by reason of its great antiquity, for it was founded in A.D. 1197. In the year A.D. 42, as the legend goes, St. Paul visited Messina, and having found the people there well disposed, and eager to hear the word of God from his lips, he preached them two sermons, one on our Lord’s Passion, the other on the perpetual virginity of our Blessed Lady. This latter had such a telling effect upon the inhabitants that they cried out with one acclaim, “Our city must be placed under the protection of the Virgin Mother.” The story goes on to say that an embassy, at the head of which was St. Paul himself, was sent to Jerusalem, where the Mother of God was then living, and that as soon as the Blessed Virgin received the embassy she sent a reply to the Messinese in Hebrew, stating that she was willing to accede to their pious wishes. This letter was afterwards done into Greek by St. Paul, and deposited in the ancient church of Messina, whence in course of time it was removed to its present place in the altar of the cathedral church. The following is a copy of this singular document:

Mary, Virgin, daughter of Joachim, most lowly handmaid of God, Mother of the Crucified Jesus Christ, of the tribe of Juda, from the race of David, to all the people of Messina salutation and blessing from God the Father Almighty. It is certified by public documents that all of you have, in great faith, sent emissaries and ambassadors to us. Led to know the way of the truth through the preaching of Paul the Apostle, ye confess that our Son, the Only-Begotten of God, is both God and man, and that he ascended into heaven after his resurrection. For this reason we, therefore, bless ye and your city, whose perpetual Protectress we desire to become.—Year of our Son 42; Indiction I.; iii. nones of June; xxvii. of the moon; feria, v. from Jerusalem. MARY, Virgin, who hath approved the handwriting above” (Catholic Italy, by Hemans, vol. ii. p. 511).

To establish the genuineness of this letter the learned Jesuit, Father Melchior Inchofer, wrote a very learned Latin work, entitled Epistolæ B. Virginis Mariæ ad Messinenses Veritas vindicata—“The truth of the Epistle of the Blessed Virgin Mary to the people of Messina vindicated.”








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