This is one of the many subjects which has been garbled beyond
recognition by certain pop authors, who have invented various claims
about the reasons for the removal (in 1969) of the
feast days for St. Catherine and St. Margaret (and the many others
removed at that time) from the General Calendar.
Here's what the official Vatican documents say on the subject of the 1969 revision:
From the Apostolic Letter of Pope Paul VI, February 14, 1969:
"As the council (Vatican II) properly pointed out, over the course of the centuries more feasts of the saints were introduced than necessary. Lest the feasts of the saints overshadow the feasts which recall the mysteries of redemption, many of these should be celebrated by local churches, countries, or religious communities. Only those which commemorate saints of universal significance should be kept by the universal Church.
"Therefore a new general calendar has been prepared for use in the Latin rite..."
Within the "General Norms for the Liturgical Year and the Calendar" ( 14
February 1969), we find the following:
Chapter I, Part I, III:
"The saints of universal significance have celebrations obligatory throughout the entire Church. Other saints either are listed in the General Calendar for optional celebration or are left to the veneration of some particular Church, region, or religious family."
Under Chapter II, Part 1, we find:
"48. The arrangement for celebrating the liturgical year is governed by the calendar: the General Calendar, for use in the entire Roman Rite, or a particular calendar, for use in a particular Church or in families of religious.
49. In the General Calendar the entire cycle of celebrations is entered: celebrations of the mystery of salvation as found in the Proper of the Seasons, of those saints having universal significance who must therefore be celebrated by everyone... Particular [local] calendars have more specialized celebrations, arranged to harmonize with the general cycle. The individual Churches or families of religious should show a special honor to those saints who are properly their own."
Similarly, the same reasons were
behind the decision to rotate off Joan of Arc's own
feast day, as the Vatican itself has explicitly confirmed by
explaining that Joan is still considered a, quote, "heroic"
saint and martyr listed in the newest edition of the Martyrologium
Romanum itself, but as a European and a
French woman in a calendar previously glutted with French saints, her feast day
had to be rotated off to make way for others. Here's the relevant
excerpt from a Vatican letter (1 February 2002) sent to the Joan of
Arc Archive. The Vatican "Congregation" in question here is the
"Congregatio de Cultu Divino et Disciplina Sacramentorum":
"First of all, this Congregation thanks you for the documentation which you supplied in relation to the heroic life of St. Joan of Arc, and wishes to assure you that the removal of the liturgical memorial of St. Joan of Arc, effected by the liturgical reform of the General Calendar, should in no respect be regarded as a negative judgement of the Church on her heroic life nor indeed as a reflection of any perplexity on the part of the Holy See in her regard. The recently published editio typica of the Martyrologium Romanum retains the commemoration of St. Joan of Arc for the 30 May... With regard to the fact that the liturgical memorial of St. Joan of Arc was not included in the revised General Calendar of 1969, it must be said that that happened as part of a general move to ensure the Calendar's universality of coverage rather than on the basis on any considerations with regard to St. Joan's sanctity. That decision may also have been somewhat conditioned at that time by the conspicuous presence of many French saints in the General Calendar. While the revision necessitated the removal of certain liturgical memorials from the General Calendar, such is in no way prejudicial to their witness to Christ or to their Christian perfection which continues to serve as a model for those who strive to make the presence of Christ effective in the world..."
[the letter is signed by Archbishop Francesco Pio Tamburrino, dated "Rome, 1 February 2002", and stamped with the seal of the Vatican.]
Copyright © 2003, Allen Williamson All rights reserved.