Saturday, February 28, 2015

Screenshot: FrancisChurch: Bum given bishop's resting place ...

Willy Herteleer, pilgrim.
Photo credit, Paul Badde

What editorial headlines tell you about the editor.

FrancisChurch? Bum?

It's almost funny... giving the impression that Francis the talking mule and bungling fools are running the Church...   Enemies of the Church would approve of such language.

But editorial headlines don't tell the whole story.

By now everyone has heard the story of Willy Herteleer the homeless man buried at the Vatican, in case you haven't - here is a brief summary:
(Vatican Radio) The Holy See press office has confirmed the news of the burial of a homeless man in the Teutonic College cemetery within Vatican City State. Willy was a homeless man of Flemish origin.  His exact age was unknown but he was believed to have been around 80 years of age. He died on  December 12 last year and was buried in the Teutonic Cemetery on January 9 this year. 
Willy was a familiar face to many in the area of the Vatican. He attended daily Mass in  Sant’Anna parish in the Vatican and spent his days and nights on the streets around St. Peter's Square, Borgo Pio and Via di Porta Angelica. The pastor of Sant’Anna in the Vatican, Father Bruno Silvestrini, had dedicated the Nativity Scene at Christmas to Willy, adding a homeless man among the shepherds. He loved to pray, he had a good heart, attended the morning Mass at St. Anna every day and always sat in the same place. Read more at Vatican Radio
Tomb of St. Benedict Joseph Labre

Many bloggers have since picked up on the story and so I wasn't going to post on the man until I saw the offending headline at Pewsitters.  Mr. Herteleer wasn't a bum.  He was a pilgrim, a homeless pilgrim.  For centuries pilgrims have journeyed to Rome and for centuries some who did so remained - to pray in the heart of the Church.  Naturally I first thought of St. Benedict Joseph Labre - who was a homeless pilgrim from France.  He too lived among the other homeless people on the streets.  Willy Herteleer chose to live among those who did not live in the shelters.
After morning Mass, he would stop for a while and speak with the people.

“When did you last go to confession?” he would ask everyone he met. “Are you going to communion? Do you go to Mass?”

He asked the same of other homeless people, those with whom he chose to live.

For a time he lived in a shelter. “Yes, it’s nice, welcoming and clean. Yes, you eat well and the people are nice,” he told people. “But I need freedom. I love freedom!”

He preferred his friends. He preferred the streets. He preferred the monsignor that brought him oranges, the journalist that took his photo.

After Mass, he would speak with his friend Msgr. Amerigo Ciani. “Thanks for your homily pronounced so calmly. I understand it well and it helps me to meditate throughout the day,” he said. - CNA

I find his story edifying and encouraging.  After St. Benedict Joseph's death the Romans immediately hailed him as a saint.  He was given a wonderful funeral and burial - and today his tomb, containing his relics are enshrined in a church.

I suspect Mr. Herteleer wouldn't object to being called a bum, a vagrant, a beggar - though it is said he didn't really ask for funds or food.  I suspect he was very humble and aware of himself - that is - he had such humility that he knew himself completely - as Christ knew him.  Jesus knows each of us deeply - he recognizes us - he recognizes himself in us.

It's a very great, wondrous mystery contained in such self knowledge.  Great freedom - freedom of spirit.  Willy said, "I love freedom - I need freedom!"

How entangled we make ourselves.  It must be so obvious to people like Willy, observing those who pass by in the square ... each carrying about a facade of how we want to be perceived or what we want to become.  Willy wouldn't have been there to judge of course, but rather to encourage others to go to Mass, to go especially to confession.  They want to call him a 'street evangelizer' because they need to categorize him, to dignify him - just as those who wish to denigrate him as a bum - a good for nothing.  We do that all of the time - to ourselves and to others.

We confine ourselves within social definitions of what we ought to be, or want to be, or think we should be.  Some people can't do that.  They can't live up to the expectations of others.  Willy Herteleer demonstrates that it doesn't matter:  Be what you are and let the holiness of God define your existence - allow him to love you.

“Although he was alone, he didn’t feel alone,” said Msgr. Ciani in the homily. “The presence of God was strong and alive within him. He prayed and prayed. He prayed for the conversion of everyone, even for strangers to repent.”
And, that’s how Willy’s story on earth finishes, with a tomb in the Vatican’s cemetery, surrounded by the affection of those who were close to him in life.
His was a life lived in the margins, but a life full of love. - CNA

Today I found added encouragement from the writings of Little Sister Magdeleine of Jesus:

Why can't we love in a way that is both passionate yet very pure?  Don't you think that that should be possible?  I assure you the world needs love ... I am nothing but Jesus has given me a tiny spark of his love.  We can't continue to let people suffer all around us and not go to them under the pretext that we have to protect ourselves, like a soldier who, in order to keep his uniform impeccably clean, avoids the mud of the trenches and the danger of bullet wounds. - Magdeleine of Jesus

Pope Francis or Willy Herteleer might have said the same exact thing.

"... For if you love those who love you, what compensation will you have?  Don't the tax collectors and people you despise do the same?  And if you greet your family and friends and those you esteem only, what's so special or unusual about that?  The non-believers and dissenters do the same things ..."


  1. Only a Pharisee would write about the Pope or one of God's creatures in such derogatory terms. I saw a little blurb about this on the Catholic Register's website the other day and was reminded of a story I heard about JP II. He recognized a homeless man outside the Vatican as an ordained priest. The priest was invited to a private audience at which time he begged the Holy Father to hear his confession. "Not until after you've heard mine," the Saint told him.

    There is so much talk about the "damage" this recent pope or that one has done to the Church or to souls but the people doing the complaining and finger-pointing will one day have to stand before the Almighty and explain why they spent so little time building up and so much of it tearing down. And they will have to explain why they neglected their own imperfections and sinfulness in order to broadcast those of Catholics they perceive to be less holy/more heretical than they are. I would sooner read a satanic "bible" than leave a comment encouraging such people to "keep up the fight" or linking to their poison. I haven't been to Rorate's site since a week after Pope Francis' election and I'm happy to say Pewsitters is not at the top of my reading list either. God forgive me for my own finger-pointing but I've had it with Catholics who think they're perfect. They are like bullies in grade-school who intimidate other kids into picking on the weakest ones in the class. Thank you for having the courage to speak up Terry. I think I am sadly lacking in that area.

    1. I don't understand it either. The things that are discussed and printed are contagious.

    2. Thank you for this comment!!!

  2. Pewsitter is a poisonous blight on the Church. God have mercy on them.

    1. Venomous may be another apt adjective.

    2. Mark Shea is not Venomous, or poisonous!

    3. I don't think Mark is like that - you just don't like him.

    4. God love and forgive you, SteveD-Jasper.

  3. Let us be distinct.

    1) one's grave as asset to reposing of body between soon after death to Resurrection and a grave among certain symbolic ones;
    2) while bishops may be rich, some of them aren't; and giving someone a bishop's grave is distinct from giving him a rich man's grave;
    3) nevertheless, a bishop's grave is as a place and therefore a physical sacramental distinct from a bishop's burial, which is a rite containing words referring, probably, to the deceased as bishop, or to some hope of the bishop reigning with Christ in Heaven as he reigned over a portion of Christ's flock on earth (sth which also applies in a way to Christian kings and emperors).

    Now, giving someone who is not a bishop the grave or burial of a bishop is somewhat erroneous. But the grave is less erroneous than the burial.

    So, Willy, who on earth was from the family of Herteleer, and I hope he has got a few Herteleers together in Heaven as well, being given a bishop's grave is far less serious than Tony who on earth was called Palmer getting the burial of a bishop. Especially as Tony never renounced both Anglican and Modernist heresies that I have heard.

    On the other hand, since the new rites of episcopal consecration may be invalid, the resting place of Willy is a bit prophetic about some of the others: "wat meent jullie 'hij is geen bischop'? Zij zijn het ook niet!"

    He lived to 80 as a bum, Tony was far younger at his death as a non-bum ... apt reminder to people thinking the choice (in so far as it is so) of living as a bum is somehow suicidal.

    However, that reminds me of the earthly fortunes of another bum, myself:

    New blog on the kid : Esoterism and Conversion

    I am not allergic to working for my living, I just don't want to change the work from writing ... but I'd be better paid (and able to afford a house and a family) if someone started the work of printing what I write! Here is the offer, it is still standing:

    hglwrites : A little note on further use conditions

  4. I wonder if I met him or just a look alike in 2004 in Belgium.

    Any of your heard of Tom Zimmer? Author of a collection of essays and devotionals called "Hope 84 To Honour Our Lady's Assumption" (or he might have spelled a word in the title "Honor")? He was a man like Willy, but more into controversy. Hand communion, bull fights, distilled liquor and white sugar were on his list of diabolical machinations - alongside abortion, of course.

    Tom as in his mother was Irish. Zimmer as in his father was German. Himself he was US born like a hit by Bruce Springsteen.

    1. Yes! I met Tom Zimmer many years ago - he went to every place/shrine Our Lady was said to have appeared at. If it is the same man he also claimed to have originated the "Pieta" prayerbook as well. I think he must no longer be alive, am I right? Yes he was like Willy - but more controversial.

    2. I do not know about Pietà prayer book as such, but I would not be the least surprised if he did originate it.

      I do not know if he's yet alive, back in 1986 he was like my age now or a bit older perhaps. I think he was alive a few years ago.

      And yes, it is probably through him that I had a favourable opinion till very recently of the Garabandal apparitions.

    3. Yes! He was very much in favor of Garabandal - as well as Ida Pearlman and OL of All Nations. The apparitions all get to be too much to keep up with for me - although Fatima continues to remain very relevant in my opinion.

  5. I can't remember when I last checked in at PewSitter. This just reaffirms my lack of interest in that site.

  6. I dIscovered Pewsitter due to its being mentioned here.

    First of all, I cannot discover the article or headline which shocked the blogger here.

    Second, I must say - from my little acquaintance with site - no to the characterisation by Mark Shea. One of the blogs it links to is Katolsk Observatör, a k a KatObs - a Swedish Catholic paper and now also blog which has been around since 1968, when I was born. I know its editor, a science teacher who converted, a "conservative with a heart" as is the case with most Swedish converts (unless they are marrying immigrants with doctrinal shallowness). He has of course the weakness of accepting Evolution, Long Age and Heliocentrism, but I hardly think that would even have shocked M. Shea, let alone provoked an outburst like "Pewsitter is a poisonous blight on the Church."

    Third, from what I see, it is a link resource which shows each update from each blog or other site linked to. If it is visited, it increases visits to one's own blog if it is there. I congratulate KatObs to that, since, though my own visitor stats are goodish, they are slight compared to theirs:

    Last 24 hours - 0020206
    Last Week - 0148676
    Last Month - 0583213
    Last Year - 7231577

    1. I never track the traffic on my blog - it distracts me and is a temptation.

    2. I never track the traffic on my blog - it distracts me and is a temptation.

    3. Have you tried getting blog to print?

    4. Because, for other reasons, avoiding a certain number in your name is way more important.

      But when it comes to getting your blog printed (see link in "Let us be distinct" comment), saying truthfully or believably you have so and so many readers may be an argument to some.

      Also, I like to see what countries, sometimes.

      But I prefer those who would print even if I had no reader but them: Recipes from Home and Abroad : Instructions about Printing

  7. To make the point clear in previous:

    "....Shea - Late Willy Herteleer: Poor, prayerful, good-hearted homeless pilgrim saint. (PewSitter: Deeply sinful malicious unCatholic Dives who spits on Christ and insults the Pope!)
    ... more"

    That is one link which is now visible on - Pewsitter. And pretty high up too.

    1. The malice Pewsitter is a badge of honor.

    2. I have an aversion towards Pewsitter for some reason and plan never to venture there since everytime I see that name I think I read Pewspitter...go figure. ;p

  8. I knew Willy. I met him many times over the years mostly at the church Santo Spirito, for the three o'clock Divine Mercy prayers. He was a friendly person. He lived under the bridge near the Vatican and cooked his own food. He avoided meat.
    The last time I saw him his body seemed swollen.He looked more serious and had a very big white beard.

    It was nice to see his photo on the right hand side.He was younger then.I thought it was Willy. I clicked on the photo and was glad to see the report was about Willy.
    Willy was happy to live in Rome. He liked Rome because of the churches and it was the center of the Catholic Faith. He preferred staying ( and dieing) in Rome instead of his native place.
    -Lionel Andrades

    1. Thank you for commenting and sharing what you know about this man. I would like to do what he did - I always think 'if something happened' I would move to Rome and live the rest of my life like Willy. Who knows?

      God bless you.


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