"Holy Father, permit the celebration of the next Eucharistic Congress to take place in Chicago and I promise you a million communions as a spiritual bouquet to your august presence." So spoke His Eminence, George William Cardinal Mundelein to His Holiness, Pope Pius XI, nearly two years ago. Fiat!—and the well-beloved Cardinal, who also is His Grace the Archbishop of Chicago, set himself to gathering (there is no culling in Roman Catholicism of the present day) his flowers of faith—gorgeous roses dewed with the jewels of eminence, lowly poppies jeweled with repentent tears, episcopal orchids and unseen violets, flowers of the field and of city back lots, posies of the little windowbox and plants grown resplendent in the conservatory of religion. The ingathering is almost complete this wek. A million Roman Catholics, purified in soul by weeks and months of frequent communion, are setting their mundane affairs in order. Three weeks hence, June 20-24, they will be assembled in Chicago and looped with the bonds of Catholic ceremony. Then will waft about the world, to the Pope willingly immured in Rome, a mighty odor of sanctity. It will be the greatest public demonstration of. faith ever witnessed by any religion. It will be the greatest concourse of the devout ever gathered in one community.
Eucharistic Congress. No treasure is too great for Roman Catholics to pour out in their honoring of Christ. Kings brought rich gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to the Infant. Mary Magdalene brought to Him her alabaster box of precious ointments and broke it at His feet in her repentance. Cathedrals have gone up in magnificent pomp for the housing of the Host. All have been for the honoring of Christ in the Eucharist.
In 1881 a new method of honoring Christ was devised at Lille, France. Bishop Gaston de Segur inspired his people to a public demonstration of their faith. This first public celebration was only local with relatively few adherents. But even so, the open air parading of the Host was dramatic. The idea spread, was dramatized the next year at Avignon, France. In 1888 the VI Eucharistic Congress met at Paris and centred its pomp and circumstance about the Church of the Sacred Heart,* whence one overlooks all of grey Paris and beyond towards Chartres. Many a great city has seen these congresses — Antwerp, Jerusalem (where was stimulated co-operation between the Eastern and Western churches), Rheims (where church deliberations concerned social questions affecting the working classes), Paray-le-Monial (the city of the Sacred Heart), Brussels, Lourdes (the city of Eucharistic miracles), Angouleme (where French law was invoked to block the now regular procession of the Blessed Sacrament), Rome, Metz (where the Germans suspended the law of 1870 to permit the procession), London.** The XXI Eucharistic Congress was held in 1910 at Montreal close to the faith-healing shrine of Ste. Anne de Beaupre. This was a stupendous meeting of 750,000 pilgrims. But it was too far from the great centres of U. S. Catholicism to spread the full effects of its potentialities.