Thursday, July 12, 2012

A famous face

International Meeting on Catholic Higher Education, April 1989 (?). 
L'Osservatore Romano photo.
PREPARING A FEW FILES FOR DIGITIZATION, we came across this otherwise dull photograph showing a lot of very bored-looking cardinals, priests and others listening to something or someone.

The future Pope B16.
We knew we'd find Sister Magdalen Coughlin, CSJ, president of the Mount 1976-89, because this print was in a box of her papers. But before I could pick her out in the fourth row (tweed jacket and big glasses), there was this other familiar face in the the crowd -- front row, third from left.

His name nowadays is His Holiness Benedict XVI, pontifex maximus -- Pope Benedict, or B16 to the rest of us. In this photo from the late 1980s he was Cardinal Josef Ratzinger. He seems to be paying pretty close attention.

This box contains Sister's notes and documents from her participation (and leadership) in high-level meetings in Rome during the 1980s about the nature of Catholic higher education. A new Digital Humanities class in the M.A. program next year will undertake to study and transcribe some of the documents along with Sister's handwritten notes from various meetings.

It's an exciting project with some "big" church names. The outcome -- two years after Sister's untimely death at age 64 in 1994 -- was Ex Corde Ecclesiae, a so-called apostolic constitution promulgated by Benedict's immediate predecessor, John Paul II, to "define and refine" Catholicism in higher education. Ex Corde is a bit of important history, and we know that the Mount's own president had a significant role. We'll find out more in the semesters ahead.

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