Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley presents the 2012 Cheverus Award Medals at a Vespers service at the Cathedral of Holy Cross Nov. 18. Pilot photo/ Gregory L. Tracy
SOUTH END -- Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley presented 122 laypersons, deacons and religious with the 2012 Cheverus Award medals during a Nov. 18 Vespers service at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.
"We add all of you to the list of blessings that we thank God for this week on Thanksgiving," the cardinal said in his homily.
After the homily, the cardinal congratulated each honoree and placed over their head the oval-shaped, sterling silver medal, bearing the likeness of Boston's first bishop Jean-Louis Lefebvre de Cheverus.
The annual award ceremony and prayer service recognizes honorees in the Archdiocese of Boston for long-term service to the Church.
Addressing the guests and honorees, who nearly filled the 1,700 seats in the cathedral, Cardinal O'Malley detailed the history of the award through its namesake, Bishop Cheverus.
Ordained at age 22, the native of Mayenne, France, Father Cheverus defied the anti-Catholic strain of the French Revolution.
"He was confronted by the bishops of the revolution demanding that he take an oath by which he would renounce his loyalty to the pope, that he would receive all of his instructions from the revolution," the cardinal said.
He refused and was imprisoned, but later escaped to London, where he learned English. Father Francis Matignon, a fellow refugee of the French Revolution living in Boston, invited the future bishop to Boston in the late 1700s.