80 Years Later
Richmond Parish Receives Blessing from Pope Pius XI
By Amanda Hudson, News Editor
August 20, 2020
RICHMOND—A document bestowing an Apostolic Blessing upon St. Joseph Parish here was a long time arriving at the parish.
Or perhaps this year marked a second arrival. Either way, the papal blessing’s location for almost 90 years is shrouded in mystery.
Signed back in 1932 by Pope Pius XI, it arrived at the parish in August 2020 through a Houston, Texas, resident.
Tricia Miller, a native of Evanston, found the document amidst “a crate of posters” purchased by her brother at an estate sale three years ago.
“He goes to estate sales quite regularly as he buys, refurbishes and sells old vintage tools,” Miller says. “He doesn’t remember quite where the sale was, but he thinks it was either in Antioch or near Antioch somewhere inside the Chain of Lakes area. 
“My brother was drawn to the crate because it had Audubon prints in it, and our dad is a birdwatcher. And then he noticed several French tourism posters, and he knew they were valuable from watching Antiques Roadshow with our mom, so he bought the crate.”
In late July this year, Miller went through what was left to help her brother sell whatever he had not yet sold from the crate.
“I noticed the tube from Italy just stood out,” she says. “I could see that it was from Rome, and when I opened it, it had a very old picture of Pope Pius XI and the blessing about the bishop of Rockford and the parish in Richmond. So I talked to my brother, and we decided to reach out to the church.”
Miller contacted St. Joseph Parish through Facebook. She “asked for only one thing in return for giving it to us, and that was the cost of shipping,” says Edward Varga, communications director at the parish.
“There was no word on how it came to be in an estate sale or who was in possession of it (over) all of these years,” he says. “The item, still inside its original mailing tube, was a document signed in 1932 by Pope Pius XI conveying an Apostolic Blessing, at the request of the bishop, on the parishioners of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Richmond, Illinois.”
St. Joseph Church in this town in the far northeast corner of the Diocese of Rockford began as a mission parish of St. Patrick in McHenry for about 75 years. 
It became a parish and received its official resident pastor in 1925. Father John Crotty was pastor at St. Joseph Parish from 1930-1934, and Bishop Edward F. Hoban, the second bishop of Rockford, was bishop from 1928-1942.
The blessing that was bestowed so early in the parish’s history will soon be on display.
“After (the blessing) is framed, it will hang in the parish office, hopefully along with the original mailing tube,” Varga says.
Miller’s help in bringing the historic blessing to its intended home flows from her own history.
“We were raised Catholic,” she says, “and for my family it was of course the only thing to do with our find!”
Papal blessings can be requested today by diocesan pastors through the diocesan Chancery Office for special events. Requests are sent to Rome and can take up to six months for delivery.
Or in this very unusual case, more than 80 years.
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