Holy Passion Bearer Mychal Judge, OFM
11 May 1933 - 11 September 2001
" A passion-bearer is one who faces his death in a Christ-like manner. Unlike martyrs, passion bearers are not explicitly killed for their Orthodox faith, though they hold to that faith with piety and true love of God."
I met Mychal in the late 1980's when he showed up at our monthly Mass for People with AIDS at Our Lady of Guadalupe church on 14st. This was a church where both Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton would go to pray with the Mother of the Americas.
Sometimes after the Mass a group of men and women would go to a diner to get some dinner and Mychal would join us. I remember him as one of those people who had the gift of crossing every boundary Church or politics could imagine, and meet people as they were. I often compare him to Martin Sheen the actor and activist who is the same kind of person. He was very lovable, warm and had a real depth of faith attested to by his spiritual director Fr John McNeill. Mychal also carried an observable aura of sorrow around him, which really made him approachable to those who were feeling abandoned and lonely. I think personally, it's the same kind of gravity mixed with joy you see in many public "saints" like Pope Francis or Fr Jim Martin .I did not get a chance to spend much time with him because we were both so busy, something I now regret. What time we did spend is etched in my memory and soul forever. If you want to go deeper into Mychal's life so much is available on the internet.
This icon was commissioned by one of Mychal's closest friends , Brendan Fay. Brendan also co-produced the film on Mychal, "The Saint of 9/11" directed by Glen Holsten and narrated by Sir Ian McKellen.
The imagery of this icon comes basically from two sources:
First, the icon of The Protecting Veil of the Mother of God. Mary is depicted in these icons holding her own veil, which a few women mystics (i.e. Maria Valtorta) see as the veil she used to cover the nakedness of Christ after he was stripped right before he was nailed to the Cross. The tradition of the veil in these icons, is that Mary holds it over a church which is about to be attacked. Mychal, as the first labeled victim of the terrorism of that horrific day, holds the protecting veil to gather the thousands of souls coming to Heaven.
Second the inclusion of the lamenting figure of St Francis. I will never forget the drawing of St Francis weeping over his city San Francisco and the assassination of Mayor George Moscone and Harvey Milk in 1978. It shows the power of art and sums up what many words cannot say. Mychal was a son of Francis and his holy father is nearby to gather the souls with him.
In these days of daily violence, verbal and physical, of ferocious hurricanes, fires, and frightening instability , we turn to the saint of 9/11 for holy protection. I'd like to offer you now his beautiful prayer:
"Lord, take me where you want me to go;
Let me meet who you want me to meet;
Tell me what you want me to say, and
Keep me out of your way."
Fr Mychal Judge, OFM
Fr Bill McNichols
10 September 2017