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99. Beatification of Blessed Edmund Ignatius Rice

On October 6, 1996, at a Mass celebrated in St. Peter’s Square, Rome, Pope St. John Paul II declared Edmund Ignatius Rice to be Blessed. Out of love and devotion for Edmund, seven thousand pilgrims from around the world including Vancouver College faculty member, Br. Charles Gattone, travelled to Rome to witness his Beatification.

The Church, by beatifying Edmund, declared that this former businessman from Waterford, Ireland was a holy person with a great and expansive heart, creative vision, practical wisdom and energetic know-how. Edmund’s vision, which was rooted in a devotedness to the word of God, particularly in Sacred Scripture, led him to appreciate the significance of education as a means of liberating people who were poverty-stricken and oppressed.  He was convinced that Christ was present and calling to him in people who were poor and unjustly treated. Edmund devoted his personal wealth to the founding of free-schools for poor, young men. Soon others joined him in his loving and compassionate work of service to the poor and marginalized people of Ireland.  Together, with Edmund, they lived a communal life of prayer and service which led to the eventual founding of what was to become the present-day Congregation of Christian Brothers.

An essential condition for his beatification was met when a young man, Kevin Ellison, was miraculously cured from a life-threatening illness through the intercession of Edmund Ignatius Rice. It was eminently fitting that Kevin, along with his sister and brother, were in St. Peter’s Square when Edmund was declared Blessed.  

During his Homily at the Beatification Mass, Pope St. John Paul II reflected on Edmund’s life,

Here we have an outstanding model of a true lay apostle and a deeply committed religious. The love which he first gave to his young wife and which, after her untimely death, he always showed to his daughter, blossomed into a host of spiritual and corporal works of mercy…The Spirit eventually led him to the total consecration of himself and his companions in the religious life…Who will ever measure all the good that has come from the spiritual insight, warm heart, and determined faith of Blessed Edmund Rice?

Today, many women and men, who are not vowed members of the Congregation of Christian Brothers, have discovered in their own lives the grace of the charism and spirit of Blessed Edmund.  They, as do staff and students of Vancouver College, endeavour to live their lives in faith-filled commitment to the gospel mission of being and sharing the Good News proclaimed by Jesus of Nazareth.

Blessed Edmund Rice, pray for us!

By: Brother John Gale

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