After hearing of the death of Mother Angelica on Easter Sunday, Fr. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican’s spokesman, recalled the joy of being able to meet the nun several years ago in Birmingham, Alabama.
Mother Angelica was “a great witness and a missionary apostle,” Fr. Lombardi told CNA March 28, expressing his hope “that she prays for us more than we for her.”
Mother Mary Angelica of the Annunciation, an Ohio-born Poor Clare nun, founded the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) in Alabama in 1981, which has since become the largest religious media network in the world. She passed away March 27 at the age of 92.
In addition to his role as the Vatican’s spokesman and director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Lombardi is a longtime employee and former director of Vatican Radio.
Fr. Lombardi said he “had the joy” of seeing Mother Angelica briefly in person several years ago at one of the first meetings of Catholic radio stations organized by EWTN at the network’s headquarters in Birmingham.
In the course of the meeting, “someone had kindly taken me to the shrine to greet Mother,” the spokesman explained.
He said his brief encounter with the nun served as “proof that faith and love of God are the true engine that drives our communication — more so than technique and ‘professionalism.’”
Although he was personally invited by EWTN’s chairman Michael Warsaw to attend Mother Angelica’s funeral on Friday, Fr. Lombardi said that unfortunately he is unable to attend.
However, he did confirm his presence at a Mass being organized by EWTN’s Rome bureau set to coincide with Mother Angelica’s funeral in the United States.
The Mass will take place at the Vatican parish of St. Anne’s at 6 p.m. local time April 1, which coincides with the nun’s 11 a.m. funeral in Birmingham.
Monsignor Dario Vigano, prefect of the Secretariat for Communications, has also pledged his prayers for the repose of Mother Angelica’s soul.
Events leading up to Mother Angelica’s funeral in the U.S. will include the March 29 reception of her body at the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Birmingham and a subsequent procession to the Shrine’s Upper Church, where the Chaplet of Divine Mercy will be prayed.
On March 30 a public rosary will be prayed in the morning, which will be followed by an all-day public visitation. The following day will also consist of public veneration, the chanting of Solemn Vespers, and a prayer vigil and rosary in anticipation of Mother’s funeral.
At the close of Mother Angelica’s April 1 funeral Mass, her body will be carried in a procession through the Shrine’s piazza and into the crypt where she is to be buried.