Today is not only the III Class Feast of St. Anthony Mary Claret, it is also the Feast of the Most Holy Redeemer celebrated in certain parts of the world. The Catholic Encyclopedia summarizes the history of this feast:
The feast is found only in the special calendar of some dioceses and religious orders, and is celebrated with proper Mass and Office either on the third Sunday of July or on 23 October. In Venice this feast has been observed for more than three centuries with great solemnity. Moroni in his "Dizionario" gives some interesting data concerning the origin of this feast. In 1576 a plague broke out in Venice which in a few days carried off thousands of victims. To avert this scourge the Senate vowed to erect a splendid temple to the Redeemer of mankind, and to offer therein each year on the third Sunday of July public and solemn services of thanksgiving. Scarcely had the plague ceased when they began to fulfil their vow. The church was designed by the famous Andrea Palladio, and the corner-stone was laid by the Patriarch Trevisan on 3 May, 1577. The celebrated painters Paolo Veronese and Jacopo Tintoretto decorated the interior. The church was consecrated in 1592, and, at the urgent solicitations of Pope Gregory XIII, placed in charge of the Capuchin Fathers.
By concession of Pope Benedict XIV, dated 8 March, 1749, the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer solemnizes this feast as a double of the first class with an octave on the third Sunday of July. The same congregation also keeps the feast as a greater double on 23 October and 25 February, and has, besides, the privilege of reciting once a month the votive office of the Most Holy Redeemer. In Rome also Pope Pius VIII introduced the feast and by a Decree of 8 May, 1830, the Sacred Congregation of Rites assigned it to 23 October. The characteristics of the Mass and Office are joy and gratitude for the ineffable graces and benefits of the Redemption. This appears especially from the Introit "Gaudens gaudebo", from the antiphons of Lauds "Cantate Domino", from the Epistle of the Mass, taken from St. Paul to the Ephesians, (chapter 1), "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who hath blessed us with spiritual blessings . . . in Christ". For this reason white is the colour of the vestments, and not red, as in the Mass of the Passion.
Gaudens gaudébo in Dómino, et exsultábit ánima mea in Deo meo: quia índuit me vestiméntis salútis, et induménto justítiae circúmdedit me. * Misericórdias Dómini in aetérnum cantábo: in generatiónem et generatiónem annuntiábo veritáte tuam in ore meo.
I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, and my soul shall be joyful in my God. For He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, and with the robe of justice He hath covered me. * The mercies of the Lord I will sing for ever: I will shew forth Thy truth with my mouth to generation and generation.
(Isaiah 61:10 and Psalm 88:2)
Deus, qui Unigénitum tuum mundi Redemptórem constituísti, et per eum, devícta morte, nos misericórditer ad vitam reparásti: concéde; ut, haec benefícia recoléntes, tibi ejúsdem redemptiónis fructum percípere mereámur.
O God, who didst establish Thy only begotten Son as Redeemer of the world and through Him, having overcome death, didst restore us mercifully unto life: grant that, recollecting these benefits, we may be made worthy to receive the fruit of that redemption.
Our Lord Jesus Christ is the Redeemer of all mankind. From what misfortune did He free us? The mystery of original sin and man’s enslavement to the influence of the demons, is the key to the other mysteries of our religion, although it is the most difficult for us to grasp. (Cf. Book of Job)
Our Lord has re-established man in a state more enviable than that of our first father, Adam, who until his sin was the possessor of remarkable gifts and immortality. With Job we can say: “I know that my Redeemer liveth,” for we have known Christ and His doctrine, and we possess Him in His Sacrament of love. The evils from which He has delivered us are both of the present life and of the future life, if indeed we cooperate with His plan for our salvation. The evils of the present life are those which affect the body, sickness and death, and those which affect the soul. Of these latter — the more important — first of all is ignorance. Before Christ came, this ignorance was so great, the darkness so thick, that men had reached the point of no longer knowing what it was most important for them to know — their origin, their nature and their future destinies. The second evil of the soul is concupiscence, that crowd of bad inclinations which make us all tend toward evil and often carry us into it. Thirdly, we have to bear a hereditary burden of sin — first, original sin, in which we are all conceived; then actual sins, into which concupiscence leads all men to a greater or lesser degree.
But Jesus has delivered His faithful Christians, and all who so desire. He has delivered from ignorance by revealing to us the truths we must believe to be saved, and by teaching us through His holy Church, the continuing work of Redemption. He has delivered us from concupiscence by actual graces, which if they do not extirpate all bad inclinations, at least give us the strength to overcome them and tame them. And God can well say to us, as He once said to Saint Paul, “My grace is sufficient for thee.” (I Cor. 12:9) And there is no sin for which Jesus has not earned our pardon, if we ask for it. Do not the sacraments of Baptism and Penance have the power to take away every sin, even if they should be as numerous as the hairs of our head, and redder than scarlet?
We are not delivered from the exterior power of sin’s chastisements affecting the body, but Jesus has made it possible to convert them into blessings, for He has won for us the strength to bear them with patience and sanctify them by submission to the holy Will of God, and thereby to make of them a very great source of merits. Death itself will not dominate us forever. After having felled us, it will be victim in its turn, for Christ will raise us up some day, as He raised Himself up, and then we will die no more. Let us say in our hearts, an unending “Thank You” to our Redeemer.
(Source: Les fêtes chrétiennes, by Canon R. Turcan )