Archbishop Lori celebrates Pontifical Vespers at FSSP Baltimore

The Shrine of St. Alphonsus in Baltimore has hosted a number of Pontifical ceremonies over its rich history, perhaps most famously the Episcopal Consecration of St. John Neumann in 1852. The Missive is thus very pleased to pass along this news from its current pastor. –ed.

by Rev. Ian Bozant, FSSP

When Father Lawrence, the Provincial for the Fraternity’s North American Province, and I met with Archbishop Lori in January, His Excellency mentioned to the two of us that he would like to come over and celebrate Vespers with us and to be present and preach at Mass one Sunday.

When I expressed my support for such an initiative, His Excellency mentioned 7 Coped Vespers as something that he would like to do, an idea that I would have never thought to ask for and which is quite rare today and even before the Council. He told me to get in touch with his office to discuss when both of these events would be possible. As the Archbishop’s schedule is infinitely more busy than mine, I let them choose the date.

About 350 people attended Pontifical Vespers with Seven Copes at St. Alphonsus in Baltimore, on May 21, 2023. His Excellency William E. Lori, Archbishop of Baltimore presided.

I confess that the significance of May 21st eluded me until an astute parishioner reminded me of its importance. Last year, after Traditionis Custodes, the Fraternity asked all of our priests and parishioners to pray as we tried to navigate our way through these uncertain waters. Here at the Shrine, we took that call seriously. We engaged a 54-Day Rosary Novena, and prayed other Novenas and devotions; it all culminated with the Consecration to the Blessed Virgin on the Feast of Lourdes.

On that day of Consecration, we received word of our exemption from Pope Francis, and soon afterwards, I told my parishioners that I had personally entrusted the Shrine and the Fraternity to Saint Therese in my own novenas. I promised her that in gratitude for her intercession, I would celebrate a Mass in her honor with at least 500 roses on the altar. That Mass, with over 1500 roses, had been celebrated exactly one year prior, 21 May 2022.

Fr. Ian Bozant, FSSP celebrating the Mass of Roses in honor of St. Therese. National Shrine of St. Alphonsus, May 21, 2022.

Throughout my time here at the Shrine, one thing that has been consistent in my own exhortations to my parishioners is the importance of prayer, our firm reliance upon it, and our firm trust in Almighty God. I had no dates in mind for Vespers, but Saint Therese did, and so did Divine Providence.

Archbishop Lori vesting for Vespers
The Archbishop attended by priests and seminarians before the liturgy.

It is nothing other than a gentle, but clear reminder to us that our good God continues in His steadfast fidelity to us; a reminder yet again, that when all looks uncertain and lost, we may yet look to Him with confidence and without fear. The occasion of His Excellency’s visit on the anniversary of our Mass of Roses reminds us that our fidelity to Christ and His Church is not unnoticed by Him.

Archbishop Lori in choir with priests and deacons during Vespers
Archbishop Lori presiding at Pontifical Vespers.

In that same vein, I wish to make one further remark about the day’s Vespers. Our parishioners saw in the sanctuary, that afternoon, the dignity of the Office of Bishop on full display, as we recognized in him a successor of the Apostles, our link back to Christ. We are his faithful children because we are faithful children of the Church, and it is precisely this fidelity that is so integral to our Priestly Fraternity and which continues to be a source of grace and blessing to us today.

Archbishop Lori warmly greeting parishioners in the vestibule after Vespers.
The faithful of the parish greeted Archbishop Lori in the vestibule afterwards and expressed their gratitude.

May we continue to entrust ourselves to our good God who is faithful to us beyond measure. May we pray for His Excellency and our Archdiocese and the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter. May we grow in fidelity to Christ and His Church, remembering the words of our Blessed Savior, “Fiat voluntas Tua.” Thy will be done.

Group Photo of the ministers and servers in front of the shrine after Vespers.
The ministers and the servers in front of the shrine after Vespers.

May 26, 2023