Feast of the Holy Innocents in Bucks County

By Christie L. Chicoine
CS&T Staff Writer

DOYLESTOWN – Children, newborns and the unborn will be honored at a Mass on the Feast of the Holy Innocents at 7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 28, at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Doylestown.

Parents are invited to bring the blankets of their newborns to the foot of the altar prior to Mass for a blessing during Mass. A blanket fashioned from patches in memory of children who died before birth, including those who were victims of abortion, will also be blessed.

The feast will be celebrated with a musical performance of Johann Michael Haydn’s “Missa sub titulo Sancti Leopoldi in festo Innocentium,” the Mass for the Feast of the Holy Innocents.

Haydn was a Church composer in Austria in the late 18th and early 19th century, and a younger brother of renowned composer Franz Joseph Haydn.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity, especially during the octave of the Christmas season, to celebrate the beauty of human life and to use musical creativity to highlight an important feast in the Church,” said Father Charles H. Hagan, pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish. “It’s a blending of the arts and the faith.”

Father Hagan will serve as the principal celebrant and homilist at the Mass, which is sponsored by the parish’s rosary group. A freewill offering will benefit the parish’s Respect Life Committee.

He said he considers the Holy Innocents Mass one of Haydn’s “most spectacular compositions.”

Our Lady of Mount Carmel’s Children Choir, under the direction of Nancy Humphries, will sing the opening hymn, “The Coventry Carol.”

The Christmas carol, which dates from the 16th century, references the Massacre of the Infants from the second chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, the Scriptural account of King Herod’s order that all male children 2 years old and under in Bethlehem and its vicinity be killed.

Victoria McGrath, a member of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish, will conduct a choir formed specifically for the celebration. It includes members of Mount Carmel’s choir, the Bucks County Chorale Society and the Palisades Chorale Society of Palisades Township in northern Bucks County.

A variety of musicians will accompany them via violin, French horn, bass and organ.

Bridget Salantri, a member of the rosary group at Our Lady of Mount Carmel, suggested the Haydn production for her parish’s Holy Innocents celebration after recently hearing the music and researching its history.

Salantri encourages one and all to come to the Dec. 28 Mass. “It’s a beautiful production and provides an opportunity for prayers for the well-being of all newborns and asks for healing in families who have lost unborn children,” she said.

“It’s a beautiful setting, particularly during the Christmas season with the decorations, to see a work of art come to life,” added Father Hagan.

A reception will follow in the parish hall.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church is located at 235 E. State Street in Doylestown.

For more information, call the parish office at 215-348-4190 or visit the web site www.ourladymtcarmel.org/specialevents.

CS&T Staff Writer Christie L. Chicoine may be reached at 215-587-2468 or cchicoin@adphila.org.