Feast of the Guardian Angels
The Feast of the Guardian Angels is a feast of the Catholic Church officially observed on 2 October. In some places, the feast is observed on the first Sunday in September with the permission of the Vatican. Catholics set up altars in honor of guardian angels as early as the 4th Century, and local celebrations of a feast in honor of guardian angels go back to the 11th Century. The feast was first kept by the Franciscan order in 1500. However, it was not placed in the General Roman Calendar until 1607 by Pope Paul V. The papal decree establishing the feast was cosigned by Robert Bellarmine, which has led some scholars to speculate that the feast was created under the influence of the Society of Jesus. It was originally ranked as a double. Clement X elevated it to the rank of an obligatory double, and, finally, Leo XIII raised the feast to the rank of a double major. Since 1976, it has been ranked an obligatory memorial. The feast is also observed by some Anglo-Catholics within the Anglican Communion and most churches of the Continuing Anglican movement.
On October 2, 1795, Pius VI granted 100 days of indulgence for making the Devotions to our Guardian Angels and Patron Saints, as well as a plenary indulgence on the actual feast day to those who make the devotion twice a day for an entire year. The Devotion reads:
O Angel of God, to whose holy care I am committed by the supernal clemency, enlighten, protect, defend, and govern me. Amen.
John XXIII wrote a Meditation for the Feast of the Guardian Angels, which reads, in part:
We must remember how admirable was the intention of divine Providence in entrusting to the angels the mission of watching over all mankind, and over individual human beings, lest they should fall victims to the grave dangers which they encounter.
The Feast of the Guardian Angels was of seminal importance to Josemaría Escrivá, who considered himself to have been inspired by God to found Opus Dei on October 2, 1928. The significance of the day of his inspiration was evident to Escrivá, who believed that it was a sign that the work of the order would be carried out under the protection of angels. Escrivá dated his discovery of "spiritual childhood," a notion which is, according to John Coverdale, "the foundation of the spirit of Opus Dei," to October 2, 1931. According to Escrivá, this idea also came to him while he was praying to his guardian angel.
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