The Archdiocese of Milwaukee and the Influenza Pandemic of 1918

Fr. Steven M. Avella used internet resources and the archive of the Milwaukee Catholic Citizen newspaper to prepare this account, published in this week's issue of the Milwaukee Catholic Herald.

"On Oct. 10, 1918, State Health Officer Dr. Cornelius Harper ordered the closure of schools, taverns, public entertainments, and churches in Wisconsin. Factories, offices and workplaces were exempted."
Perhaps taverns came to be regarded as "essential" after Prohibition and Repeal.
"Archbishop Sebastian G. Messmer sent a message to the priests of the archdiocese closing all churches and schools. 'There will no public services in our churches, Sundays or weekdays. The main doors of the church will be locked.' He forbade the ringing of church bells, except the Angelus. Funerals and marriages could be performed 'with a low Mass provided only near relatives of the party are present.' He also canceled Confirmations. All public and parochial schools were closed."
My parish church has no bells, but it is open 8am to 1pm for private prayer. A neighboring parish has continued perpetual adoration.
"In churches, the sad strains of the 'Dies Irae' were heard frequently as priests, sisters, and beloved parish members met the end of their days."
The most common Catholic experience of the Dies Irae in recent decades is probably the Amadeus soundtrack.

Restrictions were loosened somewhat in late November, tightened after a flare-up in infections, and removed January 4, 1919.

3 comments:

  1. "The most common Catholic experience of the Dies Irae in recent decades is probably the Amadeus soundtrack."

    Was once teaching overseas in a primarily Eastern Orthodox country. The leson involved different approaches to milestones in cultures, including funerals. Thanks to youtube, was able to play for the students Dies Irea in gregorian chant, students found it to be very solemn and peaceful.

    I then played "He will Raise you up on Eagle's Wings" and said that is probably the most dominant piece of music at modern Catholic funerals. The students laughed and thought I was kidding, that a silly tune like that with lyrics like "he'll make you shine like a star" was really sung in church, at a funeral, with guitars a strumming, I assured them it was no joke.

    That said I have no idea how this was actually handled pre-Vatican II, was a chanted Dies Irea included in all funeral Masses or was this also just something the priest queitly recited?

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  2. Not surprised that Fr Avella mounts something of a defense for our Bishops who are allowing Evers to trample all over 1st Amendment rights.

    But what Fr. A conveniently omits is this: the Spanish Flu had a Case Fatality Rate of 2.5%, which is TWENTY FIVE TIMES the CFR of the Chinese Virus.

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  3. Also not surprised to note that my comment (like the above) was NOT published in the CH. Apparently CH and Facebook have similar goals or something.

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