VATICAN INSIDER: CHRISTMAS IN ITALY, ROME, THE VATICAN – POPE FRANCIS RECEIVES CREDENTIALS OF U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE HOLY SEE

It’s been a long and exciting day and it is not over yet as I finish packing my suitcase and then make a brief attendance at a dinner party, given a very early wakeup call for my flight tomorrow.

I leave tomorrow for Chicago and am looking forward to some quality time with family, especially the little ones, and friends, in both Chicago and Fox Point, Wisconsin. I’ll be back on this page a day after I watch all the New Year’s Day football games on TV! I am a huge football fan, both college and pro so these will be exciting days!

I am most excited, however, about how I will spend Christmas Day, at least in part! I will be a volunteer in serving Christmas dinner to the poor with other volunteers and some staff of Catholic Charities Chicago. It should be a wonderful and very rewarding experience. I’m bringing several hundred holy cards with a photo of Pope Francis and some of his quotes.

The exciting part of the day was not a morning appointment or finishing up some work projects before departure, it was attending a reception that Ambassador Callista Gingrich gave at the residence not long after presenting her Letters of Credence to Pope Francis, in the presence of her husband Newt and several members of the embassy staff.

The entire embassy staff – very special and dedicated people! – was present at the residence as you see in this photo –

Other guests included Cardinals Edwin O’Brien, James Harvey and Raymond Burke, Msgr. Francis Kelly who is a canon at St. Peter’s Basilica and a longtime Rome resident, a Gentleman of His Holiness from the Vatican and U.S. Ambassador to Italy, Lewis Eisenberg and his wife, Judy – seen here with Callista and Newt Gingrich.

The two U.S. ambassadors –

I joined in the photo with Cardinal Burke and Msgr. Kelly –

 

A small dinner for close friends follows tonight at a Rome restaurant as a finale for a historic day for both Callista Gingrich and the U.S. embassy.

VATICAN INSIDER: CHRISTMAS IN ITALY, ROME, THE VATICAN

After the news segment on Vatican Insider, be sure to stay tuned for the interview segment when I offer you a special visit to the Vatican, Rome and Italy at Christmas time, sharing stories and customs and traditions. After that I offer my Christmas card to each of you, a reading of the celebrated story called One Solitary Life.

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POPE FRANCIS RECEIVES CREDENTIALS OF U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE HOLY SEE

Pope Francis this morning recived the Letters of Credence of two new ambassadors to the Holy See, including Callista Gingrich, the U.S. ambassador. She thus officially assumed the duties of United States Ambassador to the Holy See, according to a note from the embassy. In the presence of family and embassy staff, she greeted the Pope and expressed enthusiasm for her new position.

Following a meeting with the Holy Father and an exchange of gifts, Ambassador Gingrich met with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s Secretary of State. Afterwards she was escorted to St. Peter’s Basilica, as is the custom with Catholic ambassadors, by Swiss Guards, by several Gentlemen of His Holiness and by Msgr. Francis Kelly, a fellow American and canon of the basilica. It is customary to stop and pray at three altars, and today a visit to the tomb of St. John Paul was added.

One of the gifts that Amb. Gingrich gave the Pope was a collection of DVDs from the choir of the National Shrine in Washington where she had been a member for 21 years. She told Pope Francis that she sang in the choir when he visited the basilica in 2015.