To All Patriarchs, Primates, Archbishops, Bishops and other Ordinaries of Places in Favor and Communion with the Apostolic See.
Venerable Brothers, Greetings and Apostolic Benediction.
Our soul rejoices in the Lord, venerable brothers, and We have humbly given thanks to God when, in the midst of the continuous and grave anxieties which oppress Us in these wicked times, We learned of the rich and happy fruits which overflowed among your people on the occasion of the sacred Jubilee. For you notified Us that on this occasion the faithful people of your dioceses with humble spirit and contrite heart eagerly thronged the churches to hear the preaching of God’s word. With their stains washed away in the sacrament of reconciliation, they approached the divine table; at the same time they offered fervent prayers to God according to Our desires. And so it happened that, aided by heavenly grace, many left filth and vice, for the paths of truth and a salutary way of life. All of this gave Us the greatest consolation and joy, since We are most anxious and solicitous for the salvation of all men divinely committed to Our care. We strongly desire that all peoples walk in the paths of faith, loving God and following His laws on the road to salvation.
2. On the one hand, venerable brothers, We ought to rejoice greatly because the people of your dioceses received great spiritual blessings from the holy Jubilee; on the other hand, though, We have to grieve when We see the afflicted and lamentable appearance of our religion and civil society in these miserable times. You know with what crafty arts, with what monstrous opinions and evil contrivances the enemies of God and the human race strive to pervert the minds of all and corrupt their morals. Their goal is nothing less than to eliminate religion and to pull apart the bonds of civil society and overturn it from the ground up. Therefore we must deplore all the following: the blindness covering the minds of many; the fierce war against everything Catholic and this Apostolic See; the hideous hatred of virtue and rectitude; the profligate vice dignified with the deceitful label of virtue; the unbridled liberty of thinking, living, and daring everything at will; the unrestrained intolerance of all rule, power, and authority; the mockery and contempt for sacred things, for holy laws, for even the finest institutions; the lamentable corruption of improvident youth; the annoying aggregate of bad books, pamphlets, and posters flying about everywhere and teaching sin; the deadly virus of Indifferentism and incredulity; the tendency to impious conspiracies, and the fact that both human and divine rights are despised and ridiculed. Nor is it hidden from you what anxieties, what doubts, and what hesitation and fear arise from these things to distress all upright minds. Serious evils indeed are to be feared in private and public affairs when men, miserably deserting the norms of truth, justice, and religion, enslave themselves to their own evil and unbridled desires in resolute labor for all that is sinful.
3. In such a great crisis, everyone can see that all our hopes must be placed in God alone. We must offer Him continual and fervent prayers, so that He may pour out the riches of His mercy on all peoples. We must implore Him to illumine all minds with the light of His heavenly grace, to bring back the erring to the path of justice, to turn back to Himself the rebellious wills of His enemies, to bestow on all a love and fear of His holy name, and to give them the spirit of always thinking and doing whatever is right, whatever is true, whatever is modest, whatever is just, whatever is holy. The Lord is sweet, mild, merciful, and rich for all who call on Him. He receives the prayers of the humble and shows His power in pardon and mercy. Let us approach, venerable brothers, with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find favor in His timely aid. Everyone who asks receives, everyone who seeks finds, and everyone who knocks enters. But first let us give perpetual thanks to the Lord of mercies and let us praise His holy name since He deigns to work the wonders of His mercy throughout the Catholic world. Therefore with one mind and animated with the same sincerity of faith, strength of hope, and ardor of love, let us humbly and strenuously beseech God to deliver His holy Church from all calamities, to expand and exalt it more and more every day among all nations and everywhere on earth, to purge the world of all errors, to lead all men in mercy to the recognition of truth and the way of salvation, to propitiously avert the scourge of His anger which we deserve for our sins, to rule the sea and wind and bring tranquility, to grant peace, to save His people and bless His inheritance and bring it to heaven. That God may more easily incline His ear to our prayers and grant our desires, let us raise our eyes and minds to the most holy Mother of God, whose patronage with God is more prompt and efficacious than any other, for she is our most loving Mother and our greatest source of confidence. Then too let us seek the intercession of the Prince of the Apostles, to whom Christ Himself gave the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven and whom He made the rock of His Church against which the gates of hell can never prevail. Let us also seek the intercession of his Co-apostle Paul, and the particular patrons of each city and region, and all the heavenly company, that by them our gracious Lord may pour out the rich gifts of His goodness.
4. Therefore, venerable brothers, while We in Our gracious City order public prayers to be made, We call upon you and the people committed to your care to join Us in Our desires. With all zeal We enkindle your renowned religious devotion and piety so that in your dioceses also you take care to order public prayers for mercy. And in order that the faithful may more fervently perform these prayers which you order, We have decided to offer again the heavenly treasures of the Church in the form of a Jubilee, as you will clearly understand from Our other letters that accompany this one.
5. We are surely consoled by the hope, venerable brothers, that angels of peace with golden cruets and a golden censer in hand will offer Our humble prayers and those of the whole Church on a golden altar to the Lord. Surely He will receive them with a friendly countenance and assent to the common desires of Us, you, and all the faithful. May He dispel all the darkness of error, dissipate the storms of all evils, and give His right arm in aid to both Christian and civil affairs. May He grant one and the same faith of mind to all, one and the same piety of action, one and the same love of religion, virtue, truth and justice, one and the same zeal for peace, and one and the same bond of love, so that the kingdom of His only begotten Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, may be extended more from day to day and strengthened and exalted in the whole world.
6. Finally as a sign of all heavenly gifts and as a testimony of Our burning love, receive the Apostolic Benediction which We most lovingly impart with heartfelt affection to you, venerable brothers, and to all clerics and lay faithful committed to your care.
Given in Rome at St. Peter’s, November 21, 1851, in the sixth year of Our Pontificate.
- 1. Mt 7.8.