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from issue no. 05 - 2012

In the wake of the Beatitudes, the witness of Don Giacomo Tantardini

Homily of Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Dean of the College of Cardinals, at the Holy funeral Mass for Don Giacomo Tantardini

Rome, Basilica of Saint Laurence Outside the Walls, 23 April 2012

by Cardinal Angelo Sodano

Cardinal Angelo Sodano during the homily [© Massimo Quattrucci]

Cardinal Angelo Sodano during the homily [© Massimo Quattrucci]


Dear brother bishops and priests, distinguished authorities, relatives and friends of the late Don Giacomo, brothers and sisters in the Lord!

It’s time to pay the last farewell to our dear Don Giacomo Tantardini. He left us quietly on the evening of last Thursday, ending a life wholly oriented towards Christ who had ‘seized’ him, as he said recalling a word used by St Paul in this regard in his letter to the Philippians (Phil 3, 12).

Today we have come in large numbers within the walls of this beautiful Basilica that was so dear to him, to say our goodbyes. An affectionate, grateful farewell. For my part I join willingly with all of you who loved him very much, as is shown by the large crowd that has come today to this temple. Together, dear friends, we will thank the Lord for having given him to us and then we will entrust him to the hands of the Father Who is in Heaven, a Father “rich in mercy” or, to quote the Latin words that were so dear to Don Giacomo, a Father “dives in misericordia” (cf. Eph 2, 4).


Our Te Deum

My brothers in every Mass, we thank the Lord for the gifts He gives us in the course of our lifetime.

Today, in particular, we want to offer up to God a hymn of gratitude for the gift He gave to His Church with the life and works of this great priest.

One day long ago the Good Shepherd had made him hear His mysterious voice telling him: “Come, follow me” (Mt 19, 21) and the generous youth from Barzio, in the land of Lecco, responded generously to that invitation. At the age of twenty-four he became a minister of the Lord and thus started that generous mission, which was to lead him here to Rome, in this Christian Rome that was so dear to him, where he spent with holy ardor the greater part of his 42 years of priesthood. You are all witnesses of his affection and his zeal.

The Acts of the Apostles tell us of Peter and John who after Pentecost preached the word of Christ ‘boldly’. I think that the Greek word used by St Luke (cf. Acts 4, 29), the term parresia (παρρησία), well suits the style followed by Don Giacomo in his apostolate. Parresia is translated by scholars with different words: boldness, courage, bravery, candor, but they are all terms that indicate the inner spirit of our dear departed.

Indeed he seemed to be inspired by the message left by St Augustine to the Christians of Africa: “Without pride, be proud however of the truth”, or in that fine Ciceronian Latin beloved by Don Giacomo “Sine superbia de veritate praesumite” (Contra litteras Petiliani I, 31: PL 43, 259).

For the life of Don Giacomo, we want today to sing our Te Deum of thanksgiving to our Lord.

In the Canticle of the Creatures, St Francis thanked God for ‘Sister Death’. We today want, first of all, to thank the Lord for ‘sister life’, for the life granted to Don Giacomo, the life of nature and especially for the more precious life, which is that of grace!


Our Requiem Mass

Secondly, my brothers, our Eucharist today is also intended as a prayer of intercession. The Christian faith teaches us that nothing less than pure, less than holy enters the presence of God. In fact, the Book of Proverbs in the Holy Scripture tells us that “even the righteous may fall seven times a day” (Prov 24, 16).

For this reason the Church, our Mother and Teacher, has always taught us to offer prayers, and especially the Eucharistic Sacrifice, so that our dead, properly purified, may attain the beatific vision of God (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1032).


An image of the Requiem Mass for Don Giacomo Tanatardini [© Massimo Quattrucci]

An image of the Requiem Mass for Don Giacomo Tanatardini [© Massimo Quattrucci]

The light of faith

My brothers, our celebration of the Eucharist is then completely illuminated by the splendor of these pages of the Word of God, which we have just heard.

In the first reading we heard some words of great hope: “The souls of the righteous are in the hands of God” (Wis 3, 1), and then we sang the responsorial psalm: “Merciful and gracious is the Lord” (Ps 102): a vision of hope.

In the second reading, the Apostle Paul wrote to the Romans already two thousand years ago, tried by the persecution and martyrdom of so many of their brethren: “Whether we live or die, we are always of the Lord” (Rm 14, 7-9).

The Gospel, then, once again reproposed the message of the Beatitudes to us. It is that grandiose and demanding message, by which our late Don Giacomo was inspired. Because of this we are confident that what Christ promised His disciples will come about for him: “Yours will be the Kingdom of Heaven!”.


The Easter Alleluia

With this vision of faith, we can today take leave of our dear brother, Don Giacomo. At the end of Mass, the liturgy will put a touching song of the ancient Christian tradition on our lips: In Paradisum deducant te Angeli, may the angels accompany you to Paradise!

And today, we’ll also sing this sweet melody, keeping in our hearts the spirit of the Easter Alleluia. “Praise the Lord” is precisely the original meaning of the word “Alleluia” that has been resonating in our churches for two thousand years. Yes, today also we want to praise the Lord! Today and always, we will sing Alleluia!



To Most Holy Mary, to whom our dear Don Giacomo nurtured a filial devotion, we then entrust the blessed soul of him who left us.

The Loreto Litanies, so called because they arose in Loreto, invoke Mary as Ianua Coeli, Gate of Heaven. May she welcome into her loving arms her beloved son and lovingly introduce him to the definitive encounter with Her Son Jesus, in the eternal home in Heaven. And so be it!

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