FROM A ROME CORRESPONDENT
AVATICAN instruction limiting countries, towns, dioceses, churches and religious organisations to one patron saint, except in exceptional cases, concerns only countries, towns, etc., established in the future, it was emphasised in Rome this week. It is not binding on existing geographic or religious
The instruction was published on Friday by the Con. gregation for Divine Worship, which also issued guidelines to dioceses and religious communities on special or local Masses and prayers.
But while the one-saint ruling is mandatory only for the future, the Vatican has made it clear it would like to see countries and other geographic and religious entities conform.
Conformity would affect Britain, France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Greece and a number of other countries which have two or more patron saints.
The Congregation's instructions come 15 months after the Pope approved a major overhaul of the Church Calendar which downgraded such well known figures as St. Christopher. St. George and St. Nicholas.
Like that reform, the one announced on Friday is intended to keep saints in their place — secondary to Christ as the central figure in Christianity.
1976 DEADLINE The Congregation's Secretary, Fr. Annibale Bugnini, said the problem of which saint to keep and which to downgrade would be left to commissions. Final decisions are wanted by the year 1976.
He said in an article in the Vatican newspaper L'Osservarore Romano that the commissions, sitting at local, regional and national levels, should make their decisions on
historical, theological and pastoral grounds.
"It does not follow that a multiplicity of saints coincides with a more deeply felt piety." he said.
The Congregation also called for an end to the flamboyant and exaggerated language often used in describing or praising saints on special days set aside for them.
It is no longer necessary, it said, to list in detail the miracles and accomplishments attributed to saints. Bio graphical details could be given in a few sentences, it said. Neither will saints be allowed to pre-empt Sundays, Lent, Easter and Christmas periods as their own days.
The congregati9n said that brevaries — a revised edition is expected next year — should not contain superlatives and hackneyed phrases in describing saints, Another reform concerned the language of sermons and prayers on Ember days and Rogation Days, set aside for devotion to the seasons, harvest or similar occasions. It will be the task of bishops' conferences to try to give new meaning to these special observances, (inking them with present-day needs.
Fr. Bugnini said that prayers, ritual and even the spirit of some services had become incomprehensible and out-dated because many places had evolved from agriculture to industry.