The Master of the Order says the celebration was: “An act of love and charity for our deceased brothers and sisters.”
On Saturday 11 November 2023, in the Basilica of San Lorenzo Outside the Walls in Rome, adjacent to the historic Cemetery of Verano, the Eucharist was celebrated for the anniversary of our deceased brothers and sisters. According to the liturgical calendar of the Order, we commemorate this anniversary (Anniversarium Omnium Fratrum et Sororum Defunctorum) on November 8. On this day, the Order prays for the souls of all the members of the Dominican Family: nuns, friars, sisters of apostolic life, lay people and members of the priestly fraternities.
As members of the Dominican Family, we are part of the universal Church. Therefore, in the liturgical calendar, we also celebrate the Feast of All Saints of the Order of Preachers (Omnium Sanctorum Ordinis Praedicatorum) on 7 November.
Therefore, until the Lord comes clothed in majesty and accompanied by his angels (cf. Mt 25:31), and death is destroyed and all things are subjected to him (cf. 1 Cor 15:26-27), some of his disciples are on pilgrimage on earth; others, now dead, are purified; others, finally, enjoy glory, contemplating “clearly God himself, One and Triune, just as he is” ; but all, in different ways and to different degrees, live united in the same charity towards God and towards their neighbour, and sing the same hymn of glory to our God. For all who belong to Christ because they possess his Spirit are one Church and are united in him (cf. Eph 4:16)”. (Lumen Gentium, n. 49).
The Dominican Family of Rome joined together for the liturgical rites. The Mass was celebrated by the Master of the Order, Brother Gerard Francisco Timoner III, OP, and concelebrated by the Dominican friars of the different friaries of the city. “We are gathered around the Eucharistic table to give thanks to the Lord for the gift of the lives and vocations of our dear departed brothers and sisters of the Order”, said Br. Gerard in his homily.
“Why should we come here, to the Summer Cemetery? Let us remember that the word ‘cemetery’ derives from the Greek ‘koimeterion’, which means ‘dormitory’, a place to sleep and rest. We come here as an act of fraternal charity, to manifest our love for our departed brothers and sisters who sleep the sleep of death. We come here as an act of faith in the resurrection of the body at the end of time. We visit cemeteries because they are holy ground. Cemeteries remind us that the human body, though dead, is sacred, because it was once a temple of the Holy Spirit. We are temples of the Holy Spirit, according to St. Paul,” explained the Master of the Order, who recalled that “when we were brought into the church to be baptised, we have become sons and daughters of God and the Holy Spirit has taken up residence within us”.
“The mortal remains of our brothers and sisters are like temples which, for the moment, are in a certain sense empty, but which will one day be revived by the resurrection of the body, as we profess in faith. Every day we pray the de profundis in our communities. The Church teaches that the deceased do not yet enjoy the beatific vision and ‘are not in a condition to be able to pray, but rather are in need of prayers’. The Holy Mass we celebrate today is an act of love and charity for our deceased brothers and sisters of the Order of Preachers”, concluded Br. Gerard.
After the final blessing of the Mass, the Dominican Family went in solemn procession from the Basilica to the Summer Cemetery where the burial chapel and crypt of the Order of Preachers are located. During the procession, traditional songs of the Order were sung: the Salve Regina to our Mother, the O Spem miram to St. Dominic, and the Litany of our Saints. In the chapel, the Master of the Order led the prayer for the deceased.
It was in 1876 that Princess Maria Teresa of Savoy, Duchess of Parma, a Dominican tertiary, and Brother Giuseppe Maria Sanvito, OP, Vicar of the Order, acquired for the Dominican family a piece of land in the new cemetery of the city of Rome where Blessed Pope Pius IX had invited the congregations to bury their dead. He himself was to set an example by asking that his body be placed in the Basilica of San Lorenzo next to the cemetery. Several religious families thus have a crypt in the Summer Cemetery, and the Capuchin friars of San Lorenzo hold liturgical celebrations in the chapel entrusted to them.
Below our funeral chapel is the crypt of the Dominican Family, which, in addition to the remains of Princess Maria Teresa of Savoy, houses the remains of more than 300 sisters, friars, lay people and nuns who died in Rome. Among them are nuns and superiors of Dominican congregations, such as Mother Beatrice Musso, Mother Chiara Apollonio, snd Mother Madeleine Greco. Also buried here are Dominican religious who taught at the Angelicum and some who engaged in apostolates in Rome, such as Fathers Garrigou-Lagrange and Félix Darsy, as well as several cardinals of the Order: Guidi, Zigliara, Pierotti, Ciappi, Philippe, Hammer and Cottier.