Every month Jesuits are asked to offer Mass for the Church and the Society of Jesus. In most months the day for offering that Mass is up to the individual Jesuit, but in March there is a set date the 12th. It seems providential that the Conclave to elect a successor to Pope Benedict XVI will begin tomorrow when Jesuits around the world are offering this Mass.
Why March 12? This is the anniversary of the canonization in the year 1622 by Pope Gregory XV of the founder of the Jesuits, St. Ignatius Loyola, and the great Jesuit missionary, St. Francis Xavier. But there were three others canonized that day as well: St. Teresa of Avila, the leader of the Discalced Carmelite reform; St. Philip Neri, contemporary of St. Ignatius, Apostle of Rome, and founder of the Oratory; and St. Isidore the Farmer, a humble 12th century peasant and married man who is the patron saint of rural life. Some people are of the opinion that this was one of the greatest canonization days in history.
Now, 390 years later, as a new pope is about to be elected, it seems fitting that we ask the intercession of these five saints for the Cardinals who are gathering in the Sistene Chapel.
St. Isidore, pray for them.
St. Philip Neri, pray for them.
St. Teresa of Avila, pray for them.
St. Francis Xavier, pray for them.
St. Ignatius Loyola, pray for them.
All you holy men, women, and children, pray for them.