Monday, May 29, 2006
Gigantic funeral for a princess...in Latin!
Late on Palm Sunday, April 9, word spread through Rome that the principessa Eliane Radziwill had died. La principessa, born in France, was 84. The principessa had married into the famed Polish noble family, the Radziwills, and had lived in Rome for many years (her sister-in-law was the sister of Jacqueline Kennedy, Lee Radziwill). A quick VIP funeral had to be planned before the coming Triduum.
But, the principessa had made just one last demand before she had died. She stipulated that her funeral was to be in Latin in the splendor of the Tridentine Rite! So, on Wednesday, April 12, we had the mother of all Requiem Masses for the principessa...a Solemn High Mass in the Tridentine Rite with a Gregorian schola!
Even just to have an excuse for a Gregorian Requiem with all the toys (black vestments and black funeral pall) is kinda cool anyways! The celebrant was from Australia, the deacon was from America and the subdeacon was from France. And, I was an acolyte! Many minor nobility were present.
Where was this mother of all funerals? It was at her parish, the Basilica of San Lorenzo, off the Corso V.E. II. From the outside, it doesn't look like a church as it's just a big Renaissance palace! But, the church is located inside of the famed Palazzo della Cancelleria. Incorporated in the palace is the church as was well as the seat of three of the Tribunals of the Church (Holy Roman Rota, Sacred Apostolic Penitentiary, etc.). It's all part of the Vatican City (extraterritoral property). The ambience of such a Requiem in this church, founded by Pope Damascus I in the 4th century, is something that I will always remember.
The principessa, with a wink, bequeathed this nice day to us...a Solemn Requiem Mass in the Vatican City State. Such a substantial inheritance we have in our liturgical patrimony. She knew this and reminded us of it, post factum. May la principessa rest in peace!