Something truly extraordinary happened in the gardens of Vatican City State yesterday. Pope Francis, in the presence of Pope Benedict XVI, consecrated Vatican City to Saint Michael the Archangel and to Saint Joseph, whom the Church Universal venerates as her patron and invokes as the Terror of Demons. The Holy Father, Pope Francis said, “On consecrating Vatican City State to Saint Michael the Archangel, we ask him to defend us from the Evil One and to cast him outside.” Is this not an implicit prayer of exorcism? The housecleaning of Vatican City is no mere figure of speech. The Pope released a mighty archangelic power of cleansing this morning.
It is also worthy of note that Pope Francis used the term “to consecrate” rather than the softer “to entrust” that was in favour some years ago. This would, I think, indicate a certain theological shift that may not be pleasing to everyone in the Curial offices. My dear friend, Monsignor Arthur Calkins, is an expert on the question and vocabulary of consecration. I should be very eager to hear him on this point.
Here is a translation (courtesy of Zenit) of the brief address Francis gave yesterday at the inauguration of a monument to Michael the Archangel in Vatican City State. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI joined Francis for the ceremony. Subtitles are my own.
Lord Cardinals, Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and the Priesthood,
Distinguished Gentlemen and Ladies!
Initiative Planned by Pope Benedict XVI
We have gathered here in the Vatican Gardens to inaugurate a monument to Saint Michael the Archangel, patron of Vatican City State. It is an initiative planned some time ago, with the approval of Pope Benedict XVI, to whom always go our affection and gratitude and to whom we wish to express our great joy to have him present here in our midst today. My heartfelt thank you!
I am grateful to the Presidency of the Governorate, in particular to Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, for his cordial words, to the offices and workmen involved in bringing this about. I also thank Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo, President Emeritus of the Governorate, for his presentation to us of the works carried out and the results attained. A word of appreciation goes to the sculptor, Mr. Giuseppe Antonio Lomuscio, and to the benefactor, Mr. Claudio Chiais, who are present here. Thank you!
Michael: The Champion of God’s Primacy
There are several artistic works in the Vatican Gardens; however, this one, which is added today, assumes a place of particular importance, be it for its location, be it for the meaning it expresses. In fact, it’s not only a celebratory work, but an invitation to reflection and prayer, which is well inserted in the Year of Faith. Michael – which means: “Who is like unto God?” – is the champion of God’s primacy, of His transcendence and power. Michael fights to re-establish divine justice; he defends the People of God from its enemies and above all of the enemy par excellence, the devil. And Saint Michael triumphs because it is God who acts in him. This sculpture, then, reminds us that evil has been vanquished, the accuser is unmasked, his head is crushed, because salvation was accomplished once and for all in the Blood of Christ.
To Cast the Evil One Outside Vatican City State
Even if the devil always tries to scratch the Archangel’s face and man’s face, God is stronger; the victory is His and His salvation is offered to every man. We are not alone in life’s journey and trials; we are accompanied and sustained by the Angels of God who offer, so to speak, their wings to help us surmount so many dangers, to be able to fly high in regard to those realities that can weigh down our life or drag us down. On consecrating Vatican City State to Saint Michael the Archangel, we ask him to defend us from the Evil One and to cast him outside.
Dear brothers and sisters, we consecrate Vatican City State also to Saint Joseph, the custodian of Jesus, the custodian of the Holy Family. May his presence make us stronger and more courageous in making space for God in our life to overcome evil always with good. We ask him to guard us, to take care of us, so that the life of grace will grow every day more in each of us.