A Triumphal Homecoming
Posted in Events on June 26, 2013
Cardinal Burke Latin Mass

"Ten years already!" Aside from the thundering brass and gorgeous polyphony, this was the resounding refrain in the Wisconsin air as hundreds of people from around the globe found themselves once again in the small but growing town of Wausau to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the consecration of St. Mary's Oratory of the Immaculate Conception on May 31. Both returning friends and newcomers might well have had the impression that they had been transported back in time ten years The visiting clergy was the same as those who present in 2003, not the least of whom was the celebrant of the Pontifical Mass, the Most Reverend Raymond Leo Burke, then Bishop of the local diocese of La Crosse, and now Cardinal of the Roman Church and Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura. Also returning were Msgr. Gilles Wach, Prior General of the Institute, and Vicar General Msgr. Schmitz, Canon Philippe Mora, Rector of the Institute's International Seminary, and all the priests of the American Province. Even the master of ceremonies, Canon Gilles Guitard, was the same, though he was only a seminarian ten years ago.

Cardinal Burke Latin Mass

And of course our brilliant architect, Abbe Alexander Willweber, was in attendance. It is thanks to him and the generosity of the Scholz Family Foundation that this architectural wonder is reality.  Indeed, visitors might have supposed that they had been transported much further back in time—to the glories of the Bavarian Renaissance. St. Mary's Oratory is modeled after the Blutenburg Chapel in Munich, which was designed by architect Jan Pollack in the late 15th century. Abbe Willweber's faithful reproduction of the chapel's High Gothic interior was crowned by the providential discovery and restoration of a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary from the same period. On this tenth anniversary of the consecration, the choir of St. Mary's Oratory performed Orlande de Lassus' Missa Bell'Amfitrit Altera, a sonorous Mass in Venetian style arranged for voice and brass. It is not impossible that this 16th century Mass setting was once performed in the Blutenburg, as Lassus spent most of his life composing in Munich.

The tenth anniversary of St. Mary's Oratory might be described, above all, as a triumphal homecoming. A homecoming for His Eminence Cardinal Burke, who graciously made the long trek from Rome to return to his home diocese of La Crosse and celebrate Holy Mass once more at the altar of Our Lady of Wausau. To him we offer our deepest thanks and prayers. It was a homecoming as well for all, prelates, priests, and people, who had ever set foot in this glorious house of our Blessed Mother, or only seen it from afar in pictures and sighed with the Psalmist, I have loved, O Lord, for the beauty of Thy house, and the place where Thy glory dwelleth.

Our Lady of Wausau, pray for us!

Read the Cardinal's Sermon (PDF)

Click the images below to enlarge them.

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