VATICAN INSIDER: MSGR. JAMES CHECCHIO, RECTOR, NORTH AMERICAN COLLEGE – LENTEN STATION CHURCH: FRIDAY OF WEEK 1, SANTI 12 APOSTOLI – CURIA RETREAT OVER, POPE FRANCIS RETURNS TO VATICAN – POPE FOLLOWING SITUATION IN SYRIA, SAYS VATICAN NUNCIO – VATICAN RESPONSE TO L’ESPRESSO STORY ON ECONOMIC REFORMS

This weekend – February 27 and 28 – marks the second anniversary of the resignation of Benedict XVI. His resignation became official at 8 pm on Thursday, February 28. On those last two days of February 2013, among the many “good-byes” he said, Benedict held his final general audience on Wednesday the 27th, greeted members of the College of Cardinals and, in a memorable scene the world will never forget, departed Vatican City by helicopter for Castelgandolfo where he would spend two months as workers readied the monastery he now lives in. Upon his arrival, he greeted the populace of Castelgandolfo from a balcony of the apostolic palace, a building whose doors were slowly and solemnly closed by Swiss Guards promptly at 8 pm.  At that moment, the See of Peter became vacant.

We pray for the continued health, happiness and tranquility of this Servant of the Servants of God, a title he dearly loved!

VATICAN INSIDER: MSGR. JAMES CHECCHIO, RECTOR, NORTH AMERICAN COLLEGE

My guest this week on the interview segment of Vatican Inside is a longtime friend, Msgr. James Checchio, who is in his 10th year as rector of the Pontifical North American College, We look at those 10 years and at NAC’s growth – growth in the number of seminarians attending NAC but also in the physical sense of new buildings, etc.  The newest building was inaugurated on the January 6 feast of the Epiphany by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin. I posted photos on this page as well as a few videos on my Youtube page (joansrome). A do-not-miss conversation this weekend.

I took these photos in Msgr. Checchio’s new office in the new building.

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As you know, in the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at www.ewtn.com) or on Sirius-XM satellite radio. If you live outside the U.S., you can listen to EWTN radio on our website home page by clicking on the right side where you see “LISTEN TO EWTN.” Vatican Insider airs Saturday mornings at 9:30 am (Eastern time) and re-airs Sundays at 4:30 pm (ET). Check for your time zone. Past shows are found in Vatican Insider archives: http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/file_index.asp?SeriesId=7096&pgnu=

LENTEN STATION CHURCH: FRIDAY OF WEEK 1, SANTI 12 APOSTOLI 

I have always loved this old and very beautiful church and try to stop in, even for just a brief Hail Mary, anytime I am near it. One day, not long ago, I was walking from the Gregorian University to catch a bus on the nearby Pza. Venezia and saw that an evening Mass would begin shortly, so I went into the church and briefly explored before attending Mass. I quickly went into the crypt area and took the following photos, I only had my phone so will have to go back some day for better and more comprehensive pictures of the tomb of two of the 12 Apostles who are buried in Rome.

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Franciscan friars administer this basilica and, as they say on their website (http://www2.ofmconv.pcn.net/en/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=12&Itemid=21): “Just a few meters off of the Piazza Venezia, often considered to be the very center of Rome, you will find the administrative center of the Order at the Friary of the Twelve Holy Apostles (Santi Apostoli) next to the Basilica of the Twelve Holy Apostles first given to the Conventual Franciscan Friars in 1517 by the Holy See. The Friary is owned by the Vatican, while the Basilica is under the care of the Italian State.  Given the expense of maintaining such magnificent buildings as the Basilica, we are grateful that the State is assuming so much of the expense so that the Order is able to use our monies for our work around the world, even though it is a very sacred place, containing the mortal remains of the Apostles Philip and James the Less.

“The Friars living here have a variety of ministries. Not only are we engaged in the work of the General Government of the Order, but we also care for the Basilica, work at the Vatican, teach in some Universities in Rome, serve the poor, develop the arts within the Order, plus everything that is involved in taking care of a house this size. There are 37 Friars presently assigned to the Friary, ranging in age from 31-99. They come from 11 different countries representing 18 different jurisdictions within the Order. Being in the heart of Rome, Italian is the most common language for everyday use, but one often hears all four of the official languages of the order spoken.”

Here is Brian Lenz’s account of the Lenten station church Mass here in 2014:

http://blenzinrome.blogspot.it/2014/03/friday-of-first-week-santi-dodici_16.html

And for a real-in-depth visit, explore this site: http://romapedia.blogspot.it/2013/10/basilica-of-holy-apostles.html

Even TripAdvisor writes: “Santi Apostoli, or Santi Dodici Apostoli as the Italians say, is the Church of the Twelve Holy Apostles at the Piazza bearing the same name. This is really an astonishing Church, hidden behind Piazza Venezia. We visited this hidden gem during a guided tour of ancient Rome with ‘When in Rome Tours’ and we were glad we did…… Santi Dodici Apostoli was the parish church of Michelangelo and his tomb was shortly placed here before its transportation to the Basilica di Santa Croce di Firenze. …A visit of Santi Apostoli is really worthwhile. So when you are at Piazza Venezia or at the Trevi Fountain, look for Piazza Santi Apostoli and spend an hour to absorb the beauty of this unique Church.”

CURIA RETREAT OVER, POPE FRANCIS RETURNS TO VATICAN

The Holy Father and members of the Roman Curia who accompanied him to Ariccia for a six-day retreat that started last Sunday afternoon, have returned to Vatican City.  The final prayers and meditation by Carmelite Father Bruno Secondin were held Friday morning at the Pauline Fathers’ Casa Divin Maestro. Busses carrying the Pope and prelates back to the Vatican left Ariccia about 10:30 this morning. (news.va photo)

POPE FRANCIS - END RETREAT

At the end of the retreat Pope Francis thanked Father Secondin for leading the spiritual exercises: “On behalf of all of us, I too would like to thank the father for his work among us during the spiritual exercises. It’s not easy to give exercises to priests, right?  We’re a bit complicated, all of us, but you succeeded in sowing seeds. May the Lord make these seeds that you have given us grow and I also hope that myself and all the others can leave here with a piece of Elijah’s cloak, in our hands and in our hearts. Thank you, Father!”

POPE FOLLOWING SITUATION IN SYRIA, SAYS  VATICAN NUNCIO

(Vatican Radio) Even during his retreat in the hills of Rome, immersed in Lenten spiritual exercises, Pope Francis is following the situation in Syria with deep concern. Speaking to Vatican Radio, Archbishop Mario Zenari, the apostolic nuncio in Damascus, says “the Pope is constantly adjourned of developments and his prayers are tuned to the suffering of the people.”

Noting the three-day offensive this week that has seen at least 220 people abducted by so-called Islamic State militants, most of them from Assyrian Christian villages in the north east, the nuncio said, “not only the Christians are afraid. Those who have the possibility to do so are fleeing the region.” He says that the perception of the people is that they have been abandoned by the international community because there have been no tangible changes to the situation as yet.

He expresses his belief that measures that have been undertaken to isolate the fundamentalists such as freezing bank accounts, cutting off provisions and fuel and tracking down potential Jihadists in Europe must continue. He describes the situation as one of the most serious humanitarian catastrophes after the Second World War, saying, “it is under the eyes of all! The civil conflict must be halted but so must the advance of the so-called Caliphate.”

Abp. Zenari says, “we are dealing with two different fronts: the civil war front which has been going on for almost five years, a conflict which has killed over 200,000 people, has injured more than a million and displaced 11 million; and then there are all the terrible things that are happening in the areas under the control of the so-called Islamic State: two different fronts, the one worse than the other!”

VATICAN RESPONSE TO L’ESPRESSO STORY ON ECONOMIC REFORMS

(Vatican Radio) The Director of the Holy See Press Office, Father Federico Lombardi, SJ, has responded to a collection of articles published in the Italian weekly L’Espresso. The articles purport to show internal struggles within the Vatican on ongoing economic reforms.

“Passing confidential documents to the press for polemical ends or to foster conflict is not new, but is always to be strongly condemned, and is illegal,” Father Lombardi said. “The fact that complex economic or legal issues are the subject of discussion and diverse points of view should be considered normal. In light of the views expressed, the Pope issues guidelines, and everybody follows them.”

Father Lombardi continued, “The article makes direct personal attacks that should be considered undignified and petty. And it is untrue that the Secretariat for the Economy is not carrying on its work with continuity and efficacy. In confirmation of this, the Secretariat is expected in the next few months to publish the financial statements for 2014 and the estimated budgets for 2015 for all of the entities of the Holy See, including the Secretariat itself.”

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