Thirty-three years ago today, Pope John Paul I spoke in his Sunday Angelus address of the presence of good and love in the world. He began, though, with two comments about what were then current events demonstrating the presence of evil: a murder of a Roman student three days prior and the kidnapping of a seven-year-old boy, Luca Locci. He then went on to describe the martyrdom of several Sisters.
Here is what he said in part:
People sometimes say: “We are in a society that is all rotten, all dishonest.” That is not true. There are still many good people, so many honest people… let each of us try to be good and infect others with a goodness imbued with the meekness and love taught by Christ…. Pius X, in 1906… beatified the sixteen Carmelites of Compiégne, martyrs during the French revolution. During the trial they were condemned “to death for fanaticism”. And one of them asked in her simplicity: “Your Honor, what does fanaticism mean?” And the judge: “It is your foolish membership of religion.” “Oh, Sisters,” she then said, “did you hear, we are condemned for our attachment to faith. What happiness to die for Jesus Christ!”
They were brought out of the prison… and made to climb into the fatal cart. On the way, they sang hymns; when they reached the guillotine, one after the other knelt before the Prioress and renewed the vow of obedience. Then they struck up “Veni Creator”; the song, however, became weaker and weaker, as the heads of the poor Sisters fell, one by one, under the guillotine. The Prioress, Sister Theresa of St. Augustine, was the last, and her last words were the following: “Love will always be victorious, love can do everything.” That was the right word, not violence, but love, can do everything. Let us ask the Lord for the grace that a new wave of love for our neighbor may sweep over this poor world.
Papa Luciani, pray for us!