(Heralds of the Gospel) This morning, by a bull of Pope Benedict XVI, Monsignor João Scognamiglio Clá Dias E.P., founder and general president of the Heralds of the Gospel, an international association of faithful of pontifical right, was received into the Liberian Chapter of the Papal Basilica of St. Mary Major.
In a solemn ceremony held in the Chapter Chapel and presided by the Archpriest Cardinal Bernard Francis Law, Monsignor João Scognamiglio Clá Dias E.P. was created an honorary canon of the Papal Basilica, after which Holy Mass was celebrated at the Papal Altar by Cardinal Law and concelebrated by Monsignor João Clá, the other members of the Liberian Chapter, and numerous priests. The grandiose Basilica was filled by the faithful attending the Eucharistic celebration.
The Liberian Chapter dates back to the twelfth century, currently comprising 31 canons, 7 of which are honourary. Being a Papal Basilica, the Chapter members are created by the Supreme Pontiff, soconferred with the dignity of Apostolic Protonotary Supernumerary.St. Mary Major is one of four Papal Basilicas together with St. Peter,St. Paul, and St. John Lateran. Pope Liberius first conceived the building of this basilica around the year 360, but construction onlybegan under Pope Sixtus III, in the Fifth Century, soon afteraffirming the Divine Motherhood of the Blessed Virgin and her title of Theotokos at the Council of Ephesus.
This historic basilica houses some of the most venerable relics of Christianity, including the Manger where the Christ Child was born,displayed for public veneration. Another interesting fact is that themedieval bell tower is the highest in Rome at 75m (about 240ft).