Virgilio Card. Noe, Requiescat in Pace

It’s a very brief announcement by way of Associated Press news:

VATICAN CITY — An Italian cardinal who once was in charge of the physical upkeep of St. Peter’s Basilica and was a former master of pontifical ceremonies has died at the age of 89.

Vatican Radio says Cardinal Virgilio Noe died on Sunday in Rome.

Actually, Cardinal Noe had an important role in helping to preserve our Anglican Patrimony, through his service as chairman of the 1983 meetings in Rome, during which the Book of Divine Worship was compiled. And not only did he serve as chairman, but he had pity for a young American priest involved in those deliberations – a newly-ordained priest who was completely inexperienced in the workings of the curia, and who was in danger of being plowed under by those on the committee who were far more experienced. I was that young priest, and it was then-Archbishop Noe who took me under his wing and helped me make several points which eventually had an effect on the resulting Anglican Use liturgy.

In fact, he was especially helpful in giving me the opportunity to argue for the inclusion of our traditional translation of the Roman Canon. No one else on the committee wanted it to be included. My lone voice was very weak, and there was pressure to call for a vote – which would have ended the discussion. Archbishop Noe saw the disappointed look on my face, and in his heavily-accented English he said to me, “This is very important to you, no?” He didn’t need to wait for my answer. He simply made the decision that the vote would be put off until the next day, and then he told me to prepare a locution, to be delivered to the assembled body, in which I should put forward all my reasoning for including the Roman Canon in traditional English, and he warned the others that they would be expected to listen carefully, and to pray before voting. I worked on my notes into the early hours of the morning, and was up before dawn, ready to head to the office where we were meeting.

I presented the locution. Cardinal Noe made sure everyone saw him nodding his head throughout. The vote was taken. We had our translation of the Canon.

In your charity, pray for the repose of the soul of Virgilio Cardinal Noe. He was a friend when we needed one.

Author: Fr. Christopher Phillips

Fr. Christopher G. Phillips is the pastor of Our Lady of the Atonement Catholic Church in San Antonio, Texas, where he has served for the past twenty-eight years. He is the founding pastor of the first Anglican Use parish, erected in 1983 under the terms of the Pastoral Provision. Fr. Phillips was ordained as an Anglican for the Diocese of Bristol, England, in 1975. After serving as Curate for three years at St. Stephen Southmead, he returned to the United States and served in two Episcopal parishes in the Diocese of Rhode Island. In 1981 he left the Episcopal Church and moved with his family to Texas, where he was subsequently ordained as a Catholic priest in 1983. Fr. Phillips and his wife, JoAnn, have been married for forty years. They have five children, all grown and married, and three grandchildren.

12 thoughts on “Virgilio Card. Noe, Requiescat in Pace”

  1. Thank you, Father, for the effective manner in which you represented us all those years ago, and for your ongoing efforts since and into the present.
    May God continue to bless you.

    1. I heartily endorse the thoughts and sentiments of my father in God, Fr. Moore. Please keep up all your good work, Fr. Phillips, and be assured of our many prayers. Prayers also of course for the repose of the soul of Cardinal Noe. He was a great devotee of Our Lady, and I am sure She has brought him to her Son.

  2. Thank you Father for you continued dedication to the Anglican patrimony. We are at this point in time due to the support and understanding of great individuals such as Cardinal Noe. Let us pray that we may find other such benefactors as we continue to move forward into the Ordinariate

  3. "In paradisum deducant te Angeli; in tuo adventu suscipiant te martyres, et perducant te in civitatem sanctam Ierusalem. Chorus angelorum te suscipiat, et cum Lazaro quondam paupere æternam habeas requiem."

  4. Father, it is good to hear some lovely reflections on His Eminence at the occasion of his passing. Many of us know Cardinal Noe only from his acts of liturgical/architectural vandalism (e.g., ripping out the Altar of the Chair under cover of night and replacing it with an anvil (thankfully now replaced itself)). This will help our disposition when praying for his eternal reward.

  5. This post isn't intended to be an apologia for the various questionable decisions he made; rather, I simply wanted it to be known that he was very helpful in those early days, when we were struggling, against all odds, to bring elements of our Anglican patrimony into the liturgical life of the Catholic Church.

    He was a very kind man, and I remember at the final dinner, hosted by then-Cardinal Ratzinger to mark the successful conclusion of our working sessions for the Book of Divine Worship, Archbishop Noe motioned for me to sit next to him at the table. It was his subtle way of making sure I was near our host — unknown to us at that time, but who would be our future Pope. It was a gracious and thoughtful thing for him to do.

    I've already deleted a comment which contained a litany of the bad decisions Cardinal Noe made about the fabric of St. Peter's. Those issues are not the purpose of this post; rather let's remember his kindness and support for the Anglican Use in those early years.

  6. J.M.J.

    Our good friend Father Phillips wrote:

    "…In your charity, pray for the repose of the soul of Virgilio Cardinal Noe. He was a friend when we needed one."

    St. Thomas Aquinas, has said that: "Of all prayers, the most meritorious, the most acceptable to God, are prayers for the dead, because they imply all the works of charity, both corporal and spiritual."

    Everyone can read the Office of the Dead. Come on Priests, let's see a Requiem Mass or two being offered as well. Surely we are not all so busy we can not in charity pray for this soul's repose that he may speedily attain unto the Beatific Vision?


  7. Rather than see the whole of one's life and give thanks to God for the whole man, his faults and failings aside, so many are quick to find a litany of complaints and dismiss a man outright in their self-righteous smugness. If God be so quick to judge, we are all doomed to everlasting weeping and gnashing of teeth. I pray the new American Ordinary, once appointed, will not have to weather such pharisees.

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