Carried on the shoulders of six sturdy young men, the casketed body of Bishop Thomas F. Hendricken, first Roman Catholic bishop of Providence, was re-entombed yesterday in a place of honor in the cathedral that was his life’s work. Bishop Hendricken died 120 years ago, and his funeral, parts of which were reenacted yesterday, was the first Mass celebrated in the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul.
Led by the Most Rev. Thomas J. Tobin, the current bishop of Providence, four dozen priests and three retired bishops, all robed in white, presided over a song- and incense-filled ceremony the likes of which Rhode Island has never seen. Several hundred lay people attended yesterday’s service, which lasted an hour and a half and drew extensive media coverage.
“This observance has several purposes,” Bishop Tobin said at the end of the Mass.
“First, and most obviously, it is the re-entombment of Bishop Thomas Hendricken in a new and dignified place in this beautiful sanctuary that he envisioned and built.”
Bishop Hendricken, an Irish immigrant, spent more than a decade planning and raising money for the cathedral, which he imagined as a symbol of the Catholic Church’s growing importance in what was then a largely Protestant state. The building was nearly complete when he spoke his last words, “Thy will be done,” and died of complications of a cold and the severe asthma that had plagued him much of his life. He was 59. Until June, his body was entombed inside the cathedral’s neglected basement crypt
Read the rest of Providence Journal article here.
The Providence Journal has a slideshow of photos.
The Diocese of Providence has a video about Bishop Hendricken and the ceremonies and an article (PDF) by Bishop Tobin about him.