Here is Father’s commentary about this artifact:
This is a silver chalice belonging to Pope Leo XIII that he both used and gave as a gift to commemorate the 50th anniversary of his priesthood in 1887. It’s all silver with his papal coat of arms engraved on its base.
As precious an item as this is, it really is because it leads back to the Eucharist, having contained the Precious Blood of Christ. It all leads back to Jesus Christ, sacramentally. So as spectacular as the chalice is, what’s more important is what has been inside of it.
So we can look at this and be amazed to think Pope Leo XIII used this, but what’s more amazing is that Christ shed his blood and gave it to us to drink and this vessel has contained it.
I use this chalice on a daily basis. It’s a good way to stay connected to this Pope because as a priest of the Diocese of Duluth, I’m aware he established our Diocese in 1889. So it’s a real good connection to our founding Holy Father. But then, I also have that real tangible connection each day, using a chalice that our Holy Father used. While I could store this, it’s so spiritually significant that I want both to use it at Mass and in teaching situations.
Pope Leo XIII, until Pope John Paul II, was the second longest reigning pope in history. When elected, he was 68 years old. He actually followed Pius IX, who at present, is the longest reigning pope in history. Pius IX died in 1878. After a very long pontificate, they usually try to elect an older guy, so the pontificate will be for a briefer period of time. But he fooled them! He lived long that he ended by being the second longest reigning pope in history, (until the reign of Blessed John Paul II) dying in 1903. —Father Richard Kunst
The following excerpt is from the biographical information about Pope Leo XIII featured on Papal History/Leo XIII . His is an interesting story we invite you to read:
The Popes: Histories and Secrets, quotes Giancarlo Zizolo regarding the man chosen to succeed Pius IX. He had lived all those years in exile in Perugia where he had created a little Vatican, frequented by intellectuals and artists, and where he wrote pastoral letters in direct contrast to encyclicals of (Pius IX), facing up to the problems of the day with a positive attitude.
Nevertheless, the new pontiff, who chose the name of Leo XIII in honor of Leo XII, did not deviate initially from Pius IX with regard to Italy. He, too, remained imprisoned in the Vatican and expected Italian Catholics not to participate in political life. Anti-Catholic sentiment was so strong in Rome that when Pius IX’s remains were moved in 1881 from St. Peter’s Basilica to St. Lawrence Outside-the-Walls and was attacked along the route, Leo tried to make arrangements with Franz Josef of Austria to leave the Vatican to live in Austria. All hope of this ended when Austria became part of the Triple Entente with Italy and Germany. Leo remained a self-imposed prisoner of the Vatican and opposed everything that he viewed as anti-clerical.
Meanwhile, Catholic life flourished. Leo was considered highly intellectual and much more diplomatic than his predecessor was, and in this vein he worked tirelessly and unsuccessfully within a hostile, anti-clerical environment to restore temporal power to the Vatican. In France, where Catholic royalist factions opposed the republic, he worked to encourage leaders towards agreements in the interest of the church’s missions. In Germany, too, he urged reconciliation through the work of his nuncios with Protestant Prussia where Catholicism was flourishing.
Leo XIII was the first pope of whom a sound recording was made and the first pope to be filmed . He also canonized many saints, among them John Baptist de la Salle (1651- 1719), Benedict Labre (1748-1783) and Lawrence of Brindisi (d. 1619). The future Saint Therese of Lisieux, while on pilgrimage with her father in 1887, met the pope and asked for permission to enter the Carmelite order while still fifteen years of age. He granted her request. Widely known for his cheerfulness and gentle sense of humor, many stories exist that attest to this trait.
The face of the modern Church took shape under Leo XIII. He expanded the role of nuncios, giving them precedence over local bishops. He exercised tight control over bishops’ conferences. Most importantly he came to be seen as the chief teacher of Catholicism, publishing eighty-six encyclicals, eleven alone on Mary and the rosary which lead him to be known as the rosary pope. The most famous of his encyclicals, Rerum Novarum in 1891, established him as the worker’s pope as he examined the evils of capitalism and insisted upon a just wage, dignity for workers and families and workers’ rights to organize. Rerum Novarum was considered to be the best Catholic social teaching of its time, a serious effort to articulate a Christian ethic for an industrial era, (becoming and remaining) the starting point for all Catholic social teaching.
Equally impressive was Leo’s renewal of Catholic theology with the study of St. Thomas Aquinas. He insisted there was no conflict between true science and true religion. He encouraged astronomy, natural sciences and Biblical research and opened the Vatican archives for research for serious scholars. He extended an invitation to orthodox Christians and Protestants to reunite with Rome.
In 1899 he suppressed attempts in America by liberal US Catholics to accommodate their culturally democratic heritage with their Church’s authoritarianism. However, the United States also attracted his attention and admiration and he confirmed the decrees of the Third Plenary Council of Baltimore in 1884. He made Archbishop James Gibbons cardinal in 1886.
The centrality of the papacy and renewed prestige were firmly in place by the time of Leo’s death in 1903. He had restored intellectual, spiritual, diplomatic and secular guidance to the papacy during a pontificate spanning twenty-five years. To his successor, St. Pius X (1903-1914) he left an institution that had endured revolutions, loss of temporal power and increased industrialization. The papacy was traditionally fearful of modernism and democracy and would continue to deal with these issues throughout the reign of the future pope.
Leo XIII died in the summer of 1903. He was ninety-three years of age and was buried in the Vatican but transferred in 1923 to the basilica of St. John Lateran.
In addition, his death was the reason for the Conclave in August, which elected Giuseppe Sarto despite another candidate’s proven lead. We will have more of that story in the near future and exciting new additions to the Collection to share with you.
Papal Artifacts honors the life and gift to our Church of Pope Leo XIII, the Rerum Novarum Pope.
This is the oldest known footage of a Pope in existence. This film of Pope Leo XIII was created in 1896. The audio portion is the oldest known audio recording of Pope, also of Pope Leo XIII recorded in 1903. The audio is Pope Leo XIII chanting the Ave Maria in Latin.