If you don’t like to read or are very busy, I suggest deleting this e-mail or just saving it for a day when you have a few minutes to read….

So, I am back in New Orleans after the Canonizations and can give the report “What I Did on the October 2019 Trip to Rome for the Canonizations!”

First it was amazing! It was surprising. It was moving.  It was enjoyable although I seemed to get tired frequently. Maybe because I was trying to absorb so much that my little brain was getting exhausted. “Idk.”

First, one of the funnier things that happened. I arrived and stayed on Borgo Pio Strada, one of my favorite streets because some of the stores call themselves “Religious Articles Factories.”  My favorite is “Comandini S.”  Except it was disappointing at first….

I arrived on Friday morning and immediately dropped my bags off and went out shopping. Since 5 people were being Canonized I thought I’d be busy hunting for medals; there would be lots of items available. I was wrong.

There was not much available. At all! I was disappointed. I still bought a bunch of items but the Canonization items were sparse. I figured out why on Sunday after the Canonizations. I guess the basic rule is “don’t sell saint medals from a Canonization until after the saints get Canonized. Duh! You can’t buy Saint John Henry items until he becomes Saint John Henry Newman! I can’t believe I never realized that before!

So after the canonization was finished, there were lots of items for sale celebrating Saints Marguerite Bay, Miriam Chiramel, Josephine Vannini, Dulce Pontes, and Saint John Henry Newman from England.

I brought my Loyola University ball cap so I could show I was affiliated with a Jesuit University, Loyola University - New Orleans.

I decided to ask people to sign my cap and when I picked up my ticket for the canonization, I asked a lady to sign it. She wrote “Lead Kindly Light” and I had no idea what that meant. Until the canonization where it was repeated.  “Lead Kindly Light” is a pretty famous quote from Saint John Henry Newman. I’m really happy that lady wrote that on my cap! Live. And. Learn. Lead Kindly Light.

Saint Peters Square was very crowded. The estimate was that 50,000 people attended. Most of the Mass was said in either Latin or Italian or other languages, except for Saint John Henry Newman. I learned another one of is quotes is “Lead Me Home in Childlike Faith.”  Saint John Henry Newman was apparently willing to be led.

The program noted that the items brought in were universally blessed by the Pope, just like at Saint Teresa of Calcutta’s canonization. I brought in some of my hand-painted medals too so that was kind of cool, plus I bought and brought a lot of medals, crosses, rosaries, chaplets, and other things I’m forgetting to mention.

After the Canonization another pretty hilarious thing happened. Pope Francis must have been dizzy after the Canonizations! He used his Twitter account and said something like “Appreciate the new saints and ask for their intercessions. Except he goofed!

Pope Francis asked 4.3 million of his followers of his Twitter account to pray for the New Orleans Saints football team. He hashtagged ( #Saints ) the NFL New Orleans Saints name, and his message went out all over the world. Of course, the Saints won their game that Sunday!

The Canonizations were great and I was happy to be at Saint Peter’s Square to witness everything. Keep an eye out on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram for more pictures and anecdotes. It was hard to get a signal in Rome to send out many messages. I’ll still send them though.

The Saturday before the Sunday canonization was my favorite part of the trip. The “Futuro Senza Memorial.” There was a Mass everyone was talking about at Piazza Santa Maria in Trastavere. I walked over to attend. It was very moving and exhilarating mostly because there were so many kids participating!

Many of these kids were carrying signs in black and white. There was a procession of the Communita di Sant'Egidio. They’re a New Movement in Catholicism. They say it is closest in spirit to the ethos of Pope Francis.

The boys and girls were holding the signs. The media was everywhere. Music played and speakers spoke in Italian or maybe Latin, or both. And then, afterward, the kids and all the people formed a procession and marched, leaving the Church and Trastevere. People were very emotional.

So, about the signs…. They had names of cities or towns. Listed on the sign was one the following places, plus many others:

Bergen Belzen
Gross Rosen

The Communita di Sant Edigo


remembered and listed the places where all the Concentration Camps were. Why do we call them Concentration Camps? They were Extermination Camps. It was so profound to see all these young, mostly Catholic, people forming a procession, singing and marching, all in an effort to recall the Jewish Holocaust. That was completely unexpected. It was beautiful.

The Amazonian Synod and the blessing of the new Cardinals were both fascinating too, though I am not sure where the cardinals were “Cardinalized.” It happened though.

So I bought a bunch of things and there are lots of medals, cards, crosses, rosaries, chaplets, blessed items, and other things to mail out to the people who sent in the Self Addressed Stamped Envelopes - I cannot wait to send everything out, but there is one “issue.”

A few people (you know who you are) decided to send in a bunch of SASE envelopes for a lot of different people. So, it is going to take longer to get all the items out. Next time, please recall that the free item offers are basically individual offers, and, of course, some exceptions are expected and allowed. If someone wants an item for their 92 year-old Aunt (it happens) who am I to deny? Certainly family members can all send in individual envelopes. And if a bunch of schoolchildren decided to send in envelopes one at a time that would be fine. I would actually love that!

The “problem” occurs when someone types up the names of a lot of people they know from all over the country and then sends them in for their friends and family to get free gifts. First, I doubt that some of these people getting free gifts really care about the gifts. Second, it’s not as meaningful to be sending items to people who are not on the e mail list and probably do not understand what I am trying to do: I’m trying to bring a few lapsed folks back through the door of a church, or even a synagogue, or even maybe just feel a little tiny bit of faith again (it happens).

So, if I get a bunch of cards that are all obviously created by one person, I will still mail the items out but it will again slow things down. And it will obviously be more expensive. Still, I am not stopping offering the free items. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I truly enjoy buying the items for the people who send in the envelopes.

Emily has been helping me with organizing the items. A few times she has said, “This note is going to make you cry.” That’s OK. I’m not embarrassed to cry. She was usually right. (Not always though, ha!)

Two of my very favorite envelopes and cards that came with the nice notes were from people who were really excited about Saint John Henry Newman’s Canonization. Who knew! One lady wrote a note saying her young son was named John Henry, after Saint John Henry Newman. And then she wrote that this boy was a “Rainbow Baby.”

I asked Emily, “How does this lady know her little kid is gay already?” And then Emily told me what a “Rainbow Baby” is and I learned that a Rainbow Baby is one who comes after a miscarriage. Again, that made me cry. I guess we don’t’ know if this kid is gay (and we don’t really care), but we do know he was and is, truly a Gift of Life. Can’t wait to send you something, Henry!

I am actually looking forward to sending all the stuff we collected. It will be fun doing it! Maybe I’ll put all the cards side by side on my lawn so you can see how many people participated. It’s such an emotionally rewarding ritual. I hope I’ll never stop doing it. Sending the items, buying the items, looking for the items - the whole concept and everything else - it is so worth it. You are worth it!

That’s all for this newsletter. If you did not participate, consider joining in the fun next time. It is a bit curious because you’ll never know what you are going to get until you get it. I don’t even know.

We also added (OK, Emily added) a bunch of new pictures of medals on the www.SaintsforSinners.com website. We have gotten even better at hand-painting our medals. We are still going to send a little bit of lagniappe with every order we receive. That’s fun too! Take a look at the new photos and the little bits of information we wrote under the photographs we have added. And leave us a message on the Blog, rob’s corner (it’s in the corner of the web site and it’s my blog!) There’s lot more to come! Don’t worry, the next newsletter will be very short! That’s it for now so ….

Thanks for reading to the bottom line!

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