Wednesday, September 22, 2021

A Look Back on the Festival of Saint Louis 2021 (Guest Article and Photos)

NLM thanks Anna Kalinowski for her detailed commentary on the second annual Festival of St. Louis, once again a great success (as the stirring photos help convey).

The Apotheosis of St. Louis in Forest Park, where Catholics of St. Louis, Missouri, meet weekly year-round to pray the Holy Rosary

A few weeks ago, Catholics in Saint Louis, Missouri, outdid themselves once again in celebrating the feast of their city’s beloved patron. Faithful from all over the archdiocese and many out-of-state visitors came together to participate in an impressive series of liturgical and paraliturgical events known as The Festival of St. Louis.

The celebrations, which were organized primarily by the Oratory of SS. Gregory and Augustine, began officially in the Archdiocese’s mother church, the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis, with Solemn First Vespers on the evening of Tuesday, August 24th. Solemn seven-cope vespers may very well have been a first in the basilica’s history of a hundred-plus years.

The proper chants for Vespers were taken from a manuscript of an Office composed just after St. Louis’s canonization in 1297 for use at the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris. It was for many years the most widely celebrated Office for Louis, King of France.

Procession into the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis for Solemn First Vespers
A polyphonic choir, hidden behind the high altar, sings the Parisian Magnificat.
A Knight of St. John stands watch.
Following benediction, many of the faithful went straight to the Apotheosis of St. Louis in Forest Park to pray a public Rosary on the eighth day of a Rosary novena leading up to the feast.

After a night of celebrating, a few brave souls rose early on August 25th to take part in full sung Matins, Lauds, and Prime. The lauds hymn was taken from the same manuscript mentioned above.
Manuscript for the proper chants of the feast of St. Louis, King of France: “glory of all kings who reign.”

Solemn Mass was celebrated a few hours later at the Oratory of SS. Gregory and Augustine, complete with its glorious sequence for St. Louis, Parisian chant, and Dufay’s Missa L’homme armé.

The intrepid rector of the Oratory of SS. Gregory and Augustine, Monsignor Carl Eugene Morris.
A polyphonic choir sings Dufay’s Missa L’homme armé from the loft.
Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament prior to the procession.

A few hours after Mass, Second Vespers was sung as even more Catholics gathered to worship our Lord in Adoration. After Benediction, the church grounds became the staging point for a massive two-mile procession through the city to the Apotheosis of St. Louis in Forest Park for the conclusion of the Rosary novena. The procession boasted a first-class relic of St. Louis carried in a custom-made French Gothic palanquin, a statue of Our Lady of Fatima, clergy, three scholae positioned strategically to cover with song the front, middle, and back of the procession, Knights of St. John, Knights of Columbus, altar boys, flower girls, and a multitude of lay faithful.


And they’re off!

“With joy and gladness they are led along as they enter the palace of the king.” (Psalm 44:15)

“In your majesty ride forth victoriously for the cause of truth and to defend the right; let your right hand teach you dread deeds!” (Psalm 44:4)
Altar boys carry the custom-made French Gothic palanquin containing the relic of St. Louis, King of France. Note also the antique banners restored by the Altar and Rosary Society of the Oratory of SS. Gregory and Augustine.
Note the astounded golfers far back on the green.
The Apotheosis of St. Louis comes into view.
Flower girls surround the base of the statue with petals.
Schola and brass sing and play Christus Vincit.
A fifteen-decade Rosary begins at the foot of the statue in the presence of the relic of St. Louis and statue of Our Lady of Fatima.

Tradition is for the young!

The people of St. Louis continue to beseech their patron’s intercession and are already planning the third annual Festival of St. Louis. You are invited!

*Our particular thanks to Dr. Cecilia Gaposchkin of Dartmouth for the use of the transcriptions and translations in Blessed Louis: The Most Glorious of Kings, and to Henri Adam de Villiers of the Schola Sainte-Cecile in Paris for the transcription of the Sequence of the Mass.

Photo Credit: Heartfelt thanks to Kiera Petrick for her stunning work as the official photographer of the Oratory of SS. Gregory and Augustine.

Just a portion of the 24,000 yellow rose petals used to cover the entire length of the two-mile procession. Because if a thing’s worth doing, it’s worth doing extravagantly!

More recent articles:

For more articles, see the NLM archives: