The Twelfth Annual Celebration of the Feast of St. Cecilia and the anniversary of the death of Fr. Magin Catalá will be held on Monday, November 22, at 6:30 p.m. in the Santa Clara Mission Church, 500 El Camino Real, Santa Clara (which is the Santa Clara University chapel, located on the campus).
A Sung High Mass will be celebrated at the High Altar, which is otherwise used only for weddings of alumni. Prayers will be offered for the canonization of Fr. Catatá at the Altar of the Crucifix. (For the significance of the crucifix, see more to follow.)
Original “California Mission Mass” music will be sung during the Mass. This music may very well have been sung in Mission Santa Clara when Father Catala was there, since it is part of a collection compiled by California composer John Biggs from music written down by the Franciscan missionaries to be sung at the California missions. The choir also will sing Cantico del Alba from that same collection.
This annual event when the TLM is allowed once a year at the SCU chapel provides a profound glimpse into how much beauty the padres brought to the natives in their worship of the one true God and how much hope and love they shared in the religion they taught.
Fr. Catalá is much less well known than St. Junipero Serra, but he was highly revered as a miracle worker during his lifetime and after his death. Fifty-four years after he died in 1830, Father Catalá’s cause for canonization was taken up by Archbishop Joseph Alemany, the first bishop of San Francisco. Testimony about his life and virtues was submitted to Rome in 1909, but the cause for canonization of this worthy servant of God has stalled for the past 112 years. Reports of several reliable witnesses (whose letters still can be viewed in the University of Santa Clara Library Archives) were given to church officials who were investigating the holy man’s cause for sainthood. Several reported they saw Father Catalá levitate when he prayed in front of a crucifix, and that the figure of Christ detached his hands from the cross and laid them on Father Catalá’s shoulders.
That very same life-sized crucifix still hangs over a side altar in the restored Santa Clara Mission Chapel. The “Catalá Crucifix” was probably carved in Mexico and brought to the Mission with other decorations for the fifth mission church in 1802 or 1803. It resembles crucifixes of Mexican and Spanish origin dating to this period. These words, which describe Cristo Aparecido, another famous crucifix that reportedly appeared miraculously in Mexico in the previous century, could very well apply to this one. “Bloody, tortured, the lifeless head crowned with thorns, and matted hair, bowed slightly to the right. Sinew, muscle, and veins were all visible in his emaciated arms.” The description mentioned the ‘exaggerated realism’ of the sufferings of Christ … detailed depictions of blood, torn skin, and open wounds.’”
The amateur iPhone video records the Kyrie Eleison from California Mission Mass sung at Mission Santa Clara, November 22, 2019.
Here is the complete playlist.