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† Paul Augustin Cardinal Mayer, O.S.B. R.I.P. †
Una Voce Remembers
by Leo Darroch, Executive President - Foederatio Internationalis Una Voce
The death of His Eminence Paul Augustin Cardinal Mayer, O.S.B., on 30th April 2010 brought to a close a wonderful life of devotion to God and His Church. It is surely a time of great sadness to the members of the International Federation Una Voce as His Eminence - along with Alfons Maria Cardinal Stickler, S.D.B. - had been one of the traditional movement’s greatest supporters in Rome and it is only fitting that a representative of the Federation was in Rome to pray for the repose of his soul.
Born in Altötting, Germany, in 1911, Paul Augustin Mayer was ordained a priest in 1935 into the Order of St. Benedict. Between 1960 and 1962 he served as Secretary of the Preparatory Commission of the Second Vatican Council. In 1971 he was appointed Secretary of the Congregation for Religious and Secular Institutes and was ordained a bishop in 1972. In 1984 he was appointed Pro-Prefect of the Congregation for Sacraments and in 1985 was elevated to the rank of Cardinal and appointed Prefect of the Congregation for the Sacraments where he remained until his resignation on 1st July 1988. The next day, 2nd July 1988, Pope John Paul II appointed His Eminence as first President of the newly-created Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei. It was particularly from this moment that those in the traditional movement had reason to be grateful to His Eminence as he proved to be a great friend and champion of our cause. On more than one occasion he attended the Una Voce General Assembly in Rome to show his support.
I first met His Eminence at the General Assembly of 1997 when he arrived to address the delegates and take part in a question and answer session on a variety of subjects but which, inevitably, included the ‘old’ Mass. He reminded those present that as he was now retired he was speaking in a personal capacity only.
Michael Davies, Cardinal Mayer, Count Neri Capponi, FIUV GA, Nov 1997
The Una Voce Federation does not forget its friends. Whenever a delegation visited Rome it was the custom to visit Cardinal Mayer – and also Cardinal Stickler – to present a bouquet of flowers and other small gifts. Two years ago during one visit he spoke movingly and at length about his younger days in the hills of Bavaria. On 21 October 2008 I received a letter from His Eminence in which he said:
“Dear members of the International Federation Una Voce, Thank you very much for your prayers and thoughts and for the flowers. May God bless you and your devotion and engagement for our Mother, the Church. I remember you in my prayers.”
Our most recent, and final visit, was in November 2009. His Eminence was very frail and said it was most important above all for the members of the Federation to pray for him.
I had been informed by one of the American nuns who cared for Cardinal Mayer that for the funeral I should enter St. Peter’s Basilica through the gate to the Paul VI Hall and then via the door to the sacristy. As I approached the door I had a piece of good fortune. I saw the nuns and I went over to speak to them. Walking with them was Archbishop Joseph Augustine Di Noia, Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship, who promptly linked my arm and took me with him into the basilica via the door under the famous monument of Alexander VII which gave direct access to the chapel of the Altar of the Chair where the Mass was to be said.
The funeral Mass was celebrated by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Dean of the College of Cardinals, with 24 cardinals concelebrating. At the end of the Mass Pope Benedict XVI entered the sanctuary in silence to perform the final commendation. Seated beneath the Chair of St Peter, the great sculpture by Bernini with the gigantic statues of St. Ambrose, St. Anthanasius, St. John Chrysostom, and St. Augustine, His Holiness spoke movingly about his ‘beloved brother’ whose time had come to leave this world. He spoke of the cardinal’s younger days in Bavaria, taking the name Augustin when he became a monk, and of “the mystery of eternal life, deposited in us as a seed since baptism, which must be received in the journey of our life, until the day that we give back the spirit to God the Father.... In an age such as ours, in which fear of death leads many people to despair and to the search for illusory consolations, the Christian is distinguished by the fact that he places his security in God, in a love so great that it can renew the whole world.”
Pope Benedict giving his homily
Pope Benedict then spoke about the life and work of his old friend and ‘beloved brother’; of his early days in the Benedictine Abbey of St. Michael in Metten; of his “long and appreciated teaching activity in the St. Anselm Pontifical Athenaeum, where he became rector in 1949, holding this office for 17 years”; of his time at the “Pontifical Liturgical Institute, which became an essential point of reference for the preparation of formators in the field of liturgy; of being elected Abbot of his beloved Abbey of Metten, and of his long and faithful service in Rome in various congregations and commissions between 1972 and 1991. His Holiness spoke of Cardinal Mayer’s time as the first president of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei in which he “proved to be a faithful and zealous servant, attempting to implement the content of his motto: The love of Christ has gathered us in unity.”
Pope Benedict praying the commendations
The exequies were concluded with the beautiful and moving In paradisum deducant te angeli..... and His Holiness and the cardinals filed silently from the sanctuary to leave the body of their friend and brother under the watchful and protective eyes of a small group of clergy standing guard over his coffin.
May he rest in peace
Paul Augustin Cardinal Mayer, O.S.B., was a great and holy Prince of the Church, truly worthy of the title ‘His Eminence’ and was an example and an inspiration to all who had the privilege to meet him.
While in Rome, on behalf of the International Federation Una Voce, I arranged with a priest from the Congregation for Divine Worship for a Mass to be offered in St. Peter’s in the traditional form for the repose of the soul of Cardinal Mayer. The Mass card I was given reads as follows:
The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was offered on 4th May 2010, at the request of the International Federation Una Voce, in St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City
at the altar of the Transfiguration.
Begging that the Lord might grant peaceful repose to the soul of
Paul Augustin Card. Mayer, OSB RIP.
[the souls of the just are in the hand of God, and no torment shall touch them
Requiem aeternam dona ei , Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei ..