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St. Louis, Missouri celebrates its 250th birthday
Joseph Kenny Catholic News Service
Published: Friday, August 29, 2014
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Prince Louis Alphonse and his wife, Princes Marie-Marguerite, visited the Academy of the Sacred Heart, founded by St. Rose Philippine Duchesne.
St. Louis is tied forever to its founding on the banks of the Mississippi River in a frontier land, Catholics were reminded at one of four Masses Aug. 23-25 celebrating the city's 250th anniversary.
   At an Aug. 24 Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis, Cardinal Justin Rigali, the former archbishop of St. Louis, spoke of the heroism of men and women religious and clergy who helped settle what became a great city.
   Cardinal Rigali, also the former archbishop of Philadelphia and now retired and living in Tennessee, made note of recent civil unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, adjacent to St. Louis, after a police shooting. There "clearly remain intense challenges for the present and future," he said in his homily.
   He called for resolve to move forward and continue to build "a civilization of justice." The cardinal urged people to pay attention to the words of St. John Paul II, who called for works of justice and peace in his visit to St. Louis 15 years earlier.
   Cardinal Rigali also read a letter of greeting from Pope Francis, who observed that when the new city was being formed in 1764, it was named for French King Louis IX, known as a pious reformer, who was canonized a saint in 1297.
   "Aided by divine grace, the City of St. Louis continued to develop and produce a spiritual richness that has lasted through the years," the letter from Pope Francis said.
   Other Masses observing the anniversary included one at St. Vincent de Paul Church on the Aug. 25 feast day of St. Louis IX. It was celebrated in French by Archbishop Thierry Jordan of Riems, France. Also in attendance at that Mass was French Prince Louis Alphonse de Bourbon, duke of Anjou, a direct descendant of St. Louis. The Mass at the basilica included Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, apostolic nuncio to the United States, and several bishops who were ordained priests for the St. Louis Archdiocese.
   At the basilica, Cardinal Rigali connected the life of St. Louis IX to the day's Gospel reading, saying the French king modeled the teaching of Jesus to a scholar of the law, saying that the greatest commandments are: "You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind."
   "This is what the city of St. Louis is all about. This is how every city is meant to live -- in the love of God and neighbor," Cardinal Rigali said.
   He praised the many works of Christian service in the city -- Catholic education, health care, assistance to those in need and works honoring human life and dignity, such as the efforts of Cardinal Joseph Ritter, who desegregated Catholic schools seven years before a U.S. Supreme Court ruling requiring it.

[CNS photo / Lisa Johnston, St. Louis Review. Dave Luecking of the St. Louis Review staff contributed to this story.]

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