I serendipitously happened to read this passage from H.V. Morton’s A Traveller in Rome this week on the eve of St. John Leonardi’s feast day:
Upon a table in the library I saw an exquisite little birdcage made of silver and gilded wood in the form of a baroque shrine. It is one of the dove cages used in 1935 at the canonization of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More. It took me back to the scene in St. Peter’s about twenty years ago, when Andrea Bobola, John Leonardi, and Salvatore da Horta were canonized. During the Mass of Canonization, I heard the sound of birds chirping, and the cooing of doves, and saw a procession of monks and men in black court dress walk up the nave of St. Peter’s carrying little gilded cages, also small silver and gold barrels of wine and loaves of bread on a golden tray. There was silence in the church except for the cooing of the doves, as the Postulants, or advocates for the new saints, knelt before the Pope’s chair and made their offerings. Three times the cages full of bright chirpings were held up to the Pope, once for each of the three new saints, and the Pope leaned forward and blessed the birds as they put their heads on one side and gazed up into the blaze of light. There is no moment in any ceremony more beautiful than this, a relic of the offerings of bread and wine made in the primitive Church, the birds symbolic of the purity and celestial nature of the sacrifice.
Does anyone know if this ceremony is still part of the canonization Mass?