Tuesday, May 24, 2016
Events had happened in Europe only several years earlier, and this no doubt was still fresh in people's minds. Napoleon Bonaparte had jailed Pope Pius VI who died in goal, after which Pope Pius VII was elected. Just a short time later, he too was jailed by Napoleon, who kept him prisoner at Fontainbleau, 35 miles from Paris. The Holy Father vowed to God that, if he were restored he would institute a special feast in honour of Mary. Military reverses forced Napoleon to release the Pope, and on May 24th 1814, Pius VII returned in triumph to Rome. Twelve months later, the Pope decreed that the feast of Mary Help of Christians, be kept on the 24th of May.
Australia became the first nation in the world to have, Mary, Help of Christians as Patroness: the first church to celebrate May 24th on a national scale (elsewhere the feast was restricted to Rome and specified places); and the first country to have a mother-cathedral under the same title.
Mary Help of Christians patroness of Australia and of the Military Ordinariate (Feast: 24th May)