(Account of Sister Margaret O’Keefe from the Provincial Annals used with permission of the Daughters of Charity Provincial Archives)
May 9 – Sunday. Went to St. Peter’s at 8 the High Mass commenced at 10 – even though we had tickets it was necessary to be there early on account of the great crowd. Tribunes were erected for the occasion. Sister Eugenia [Sister Eugenia Fealy, Visitatrix of the St. Louis Province] and I were in the one next to our M[ost] H[onored] Mother and we sat on red velvet chairs; the draperies were red and gold. High up over the altars a magnificent gold frame of very elaborate design the picture veiled was in the centre. The procession was the grandest of course I ever saw – the long lines of Bishops and Cardinals the officiating Bishop minister with his retinue. When all were seated an ecclesiastic read from a pulpit a long document in which the names of St. Vincent and Louise Legras occurred frequently. When this was finished the Bishop removed the veil from the reliquary which was place on the altar on a throne at the same moment the curtain fell and all the Cardinals and prelates knelt to venerate the relic. Then the glorious Te Deum burst forth. the missionaries, our brothers were directly below us and they joined in the singing, every other verse was Gregorian. then came the Solemn High Mass only the Introit and anthems were Gregorian, the Gloria and Credo etc. were Perosi and very beautiful, in four parts with Bass, Tenor and Soprano, solos interspersed there was no repetition – and the Amen was long drawn out and died away in a soft sweet note. Cardinal Merry Del Val with his retinue came in after the celebrant and was the last in the procession.
We finished dinner at twenty minutes before two – at half past Two we started for St. Peter’s the doors were to open at 3 and the ceremony to take place at 5.30. The crush outside the door was indescribable, a lady fainted and had to be taken out by the soldiers – there were several of the latter about but they could not control the jam. At last we reached our places in the tribune and waited patiently until the silver trumpets announced the entrance of the Holy Father [Pope Benedict XV] – the long procession as in the morning, followed by the Swiss Guard the Pope’s Guard and the Vicar of Christ blessing the people as he passed thro the Church. We had Benediction – the procession, in front of the Pope was borne the relic given by O.M.H Mother and behind it a large pyramid of flowers. It was all a grand sight and a great manifestation of faith, people were standing even on top of the confessionals handkerchiefs waves as he passed then the crowd came before the altar to venerate the relic, and we left.