Today, June 2 is Republic Day, a big holiday in Italy. Known in Italia as the Festa della Repubblica, it celebrates the day when Italians voted to abolish the monarchy in 1946 so their country could become a republic. There was a big military parade this morning from the Colosseum on Via dei Fori Imperiali to Pza. Venezia.

The city had been at work for at least two weeks building the review stands along Via dei Fori Imperiali. My neighborhood is eerlily quiet – no stores open, people away for the four-day weekend created by building a “bridge” Monday between the weekend and today’s holiday and – the best part! – barely a sound from cars, busses, motorbikes or even the usual number of ambulances as they wend their way to nearby Santo Spirito hospital. It’s almost as if I was going deaf!

Apologies for not posting a column yesterday but it was a busy day from wake-up alarm to the very late end of the day.  I had meetings all morning, got home at 1:30 pm and had 90 minutes to have lunch and work on three scripts for “At Home with Jim and Joy.” By 3 pm I had to leave for St. Mary Major Basilica for a Mass scheduled at 4 pm celebrated by Paulist Father Paul Robichaud who was marking the 40th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood.

Fr. Paul had been rector of Santa Susanna’s here in Rome for nine years before returning to the States where he is now working on, among other things, a history of the Paulist Fathers. He is also the postulator for the cause of canonization of Fr. Isaac Hecker, founder of the Paulists.

Following Mass there was a reception at the Paulist residence, gathering together priest friends of Fr. Paul’s as well as a number of us longtime parishioners. A good time was had by all and it continued over dinner at a restaurant across the street from the rectory/residence.

If I had the gift of bi-location, I would have also attended another very important event yesterday, important for me personally. A good friend of mine, Chaldean Fr. Rayan Atto of Erbil, Kurdistan, Iraq, has been studying in Rome and yesterday, at 4:30 pm at the Pontifical Oriental Institute, defended his doctoral thesis on “The Liturgical Reform of the Divine Mysteries in the Chaldean Church in the Light of the Ancient Tradition of the Oriental Church.”

In this photo Fr. Rayan is showing me around the old citadel part of Erbil

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And here I am at a kindergarten in the diocese of Mosul with Archbishop Amel Nona – Fr. Rayan is in the background…

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Fr. Rayan, who had his own parish at the time in Erbil, leads the children in song. Of the three prelates standing together, the future Archbishop of Erbil, Fr. Bashar Warda, is on the far left.

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Fr. Rayan’s defense was followed by a celebratory dinner where one of the special guests was another dear friend, Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil.  I will try to see both of them today or in coming days! The three of us met during my first trip to Iraq in 2010.

Abp. Warda’s episcopal ordination; the ceremony at the Chaldean seminary – with the archbishop at the celebratory dinner – Fr. Rayan Atto with two Dominican sisters.



(Vatican Radio) In preparation for his one-day visit to the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina on Saturday, Pope Francis has sent a video-message to the people of Sarajevo.

The Holy Father said that he hopes his visit will confirm the faith of Catholics, support ecumenical and interreligious dialogue, and especially encourage peaceful coexistence for all citizens of the country. The motto for the visit is “Peace be with you,” taken from Jesus’ encounter with the apostles on the evening of Easter.

The apostolic visit is scheduled to last for a little less than eleven hours, but the Holy Father will be busy from the moment he lands in Sarajevo on Saturday morning until he takes off in the evening.

After he has been welcomed at the presidential palace by President Bakir Izetbegović, the highlight of the visit will be the celebration of Holy Mass at 11:00 am at the Olympic Koševo stadium.

Later, he will meet with a host of people including civil authorities, bishops, priests, religious and seminarians of Bosnia and Herzegovina. He will attend an ecumenical and interreligious meeting at 5:30 pm before travelling to the John Paul II Diocesan Youth Center to meet with young people.

The Pope said in his video-message, “I am preparing to come among you as a fellow messenger of peace, to express to everyone – everyone! – my respect and my friendship. I would like to express to every person, every family, and every community the mercy, tenderness and love of God.”


The Vatican has released the schedule of Pope Francis’ upcoming pilgrimage to Turin on June 21 and 22 in connection with the extraordinary exposition of the celebrated Shroud of Turin, believed by many to be the linen that wrapped Jesus’ body in the tomb following His crucifixion.

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VIS reports that the Pope will depart Rome’s Ciampino airport at 6.30 a.m. on Sunday 21 June, arriving in Turin’s Caselle airport an hour later. Upon arrival, he will be greeted by Archbishop Cesare Nosiglia of Turin, Sergio Chiamparino, president of the Piedmont region, Paola Basilone, prefect of Turin, and Piero Fassino, the city’s mayor. He will transfer by car to Piazzetta Reale, where he will address representatives of the world of work.

At 9.15 a.m. the Holy Father will enter the cathedral to pray before the Holy Shroud and to visit the altar and tomb of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati. He wil do so in the presence of cloistered nuns, priests residing in clergy houses in the diocese, the Chapter of canons, the Commission for the Holy Shroud, relatives of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, Cardinal Severino Poletto, archbishop emeritus of Turin, and the bishops of the episcopal conference of Piedmont and Valle d’Aosta.

Afterwards, the Pope will go to Piazza Vittorio Veneto where he will concelebrate Holy Mass, deliver a homily and pray the Angelus. After Mass Francis will go to the archbishop’s residence by car, where he will lunch with detainees from the “Ferrante Aporti” detention center for minors, some immigrants and a Rom family. This will be followed by a visit to the shrine of the Consolata where he will pray privately with the priests of the community.

At 3 p.m. Pope Francis will meet with the Salesians and the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians in the basilica of the same name. He will then travel by car to the church of Cottolengo where he will address the sick and disabled faithful. At 5.30 p.m. he will return to Piazza Vittorio to meet with young people, and will retire to the archbishop’s residence where he will spend the night.

On Monday, June 22 at 9 a.m. Francis will visit the Waldensian Temple where he will be received by and address the pastors and the president of the consistory of the Evangelical Waldensian Church. At 10.15 in the archbishop’s residence, he will have a strictly private meeting with some members of his family who still live in the Italian region of Piedmont for whom he will celebrate Mass, followed by lunch.

Before leaving the archbishop’s residence, the Pope will meet the members of the Committee for the Exposition of the Shroud and the organisers of the event. At 5 p.m. He will leave for Caselle airport, and will be greeted on the way by the young people of “Estate Ragazzi.” Half an hour later he will depart by air for Rome, where he is expected to arrive at 6.30 p.m.