VACCINATION, ITALIAN STYLE – JOHN AND PETER RUNNING TO THE TOMB

Monday, April 5, 2021 – Pasquetta (“little Easter”), Easter Monday, Monday of the Angel

VACCINATION, ITALIAN STYLE

I had my second Moderna vaccination this afternoon at Spallanzani Hospital, Italy’s principal research center for infectious diseases, at….

This past week, the Vatican has been in the process of vaccinating 1200 homeless, poor and needy from Rome. Among the volunteers who helped administer vaccines in the atrium of the Paul VI Hall were health officials from Spallanzani.   In addition, the vaccines themselves were offered by Spallanzani. Today I brought a large number of holy cards with Pope Francis’ image to Spallanzani and gave them to the staff, telling them I had worked at the Vatican for years and I knew of the cooperation with the Vatican this past week and just wanted to say a personal “thank you.”

If you recall, after I had my first shot on March 8, International Womens’ Day, I posted a photo of the small, flower-shaped pin that all women vaccinated that morning at Spallananzi received. Since then, the mayor of Rome announced that, for those seniors who had to take a taxi to be vaccinated, the taxi ride would be free. I experienced that today with 3570, the taxi company I use 95 percent of the time in Rome. Taxi companies here are known by their (usually) four-digit phone numbers (3570, 6645, 5551 etc), not names.

Interestingly enough, whenever I dial 06 (Rome area code) 3570 from my land line, a voice answers, saying, “If you want a taxi immediately in…(and they say my address), press 1”!

Taxi drivers, like countless others, have been hard hit by coronavirus for over a year now, sometimes only working three days a week so I appreciated the gesture twice as much, and at least a nice tip was one way to say ‘grazie’. Seems the city was picking up the bill!

And here’s a great story of vaccinations in Venice: For those senior citizens living on two very small, hard-to-get-to islands, the vaccinations came to them! In fact, the city of Venice, for one day only, sent one of its vaporetto, the public water transportation boat/busses to each of the two islands in the lagoon, Sant’Erasmo and Le Vignole.

A health worker carrying out a vaccination on board the “vaporetto” (steamboat) of the Venice Municipal Transport Company, transformed into a mobile clinic for the anti-covid vaccination campaign, sailing to the island of Sant’Erasmo, in the lagoon north of Venice, Italy, April 5, 2021. ANSA / ANDREA MEROLA

JOHN AND PETER RUNNING TO THE TOMB

“John and Peter Running to the Tomb” by Swiss painter Eugène Burnand! This is my very favorite painting and not just at Easter! I have loved it for years, since I first saw a photo online. I fell in love with these depictions of John and Peter because, in my mind’s eye, so many decades ago, this is exactly how I had envisioned them!

In February 2013 I had the immense joy of seeing this work of art in person at the “Path to Peter” exhibit that was underway at Castelgandolfo, organized by the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization. It ran from early February to early May. I do not remember how long I stood in front of the painting, on loan from the Musée d’Orsay in Paris.

To be honest, I’d like to think that, had I been alive at the time, I’d have been right behind Peter and John!

John 20, 1-9

On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb.

2  So she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him.”

3. So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb.

4 They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and arrived at the tomb first;

5 He bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in.

6 When Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there,

7 and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place.

8 Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed.

9  For they did not yet understand the scripture that he had to rise from the dead.

 

MONDAY OF THE ANGEL, POPE RECITES REGINA COELI

Today is a national holiday in Italy and is known as Pasquetta, Little Easter, and also Monday of the Angel. As you will see, Pope Francis explains this expression at today’s Regina Coeli, the prayer that substitutes the Angelus from Easter Sunday to Pentecost.

Pasquetta is usually a day dedicated to family activities, big dinner or picnic gatherings and to people gathering St. Peter’s Square for the Pope’s Regina Coeli. However, today is the final day of a three-day red zone Easter lockdown which means just about everything you can think of is closed, and lots of things are banned, such as family picnics in city parks or beaches, and people gathering in St. Peter’s and other squares. etc. Churches, thank the Lord, have been open for months now and no new restrictions were imposed during Lent or the Easter vigil.

Today’s Regina Coeli reflections do not take much time to read and, as they are so beautiful and profound, I bring you the papal remarks almost in their entirety. He did adlib in a few places, saying some phrases were so important, we must repeat them.

After you read those reflections, you will absolutely want to watch this EWTN video posted in Instagram: EWTN on Instagram: “In a small museum just steps from the Vatican there is an incredible artifact – an original negative photographic plate, taken of the…”

MONDAY OF THE ANGEL, POPE RECITES REGINA COELI

Dear brothers and sisters, buongiorno!

The Monday after Easter is also called the Monday of the Angel because we recall the meeting of the angel with the women who arrived at Jesus’s tomb (see Mt 28:1-15). The angel said to them: “I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has risen (vv. 5-6). This expression “He has risen” goes beyond human capacity. Even the women who had gone to the tomb and had found it open and empty could not confirm “He has risen”, but only that the tomb was empty. Only an angel could say that Jesus had risen, just as only an angel had been able to say to Mary: “you will conceive son, [….] and he will be called the Son of the Most High” (Lk 1:31-32). (photo vaticannews)

Matthew the evangelist narrates that on Easter morning “there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone, and sat on it” (see v. 2). That large stone, that was supposed to be the seal of the victory of evil and death, was put underfoot, it becomes the footstool of the angel of the Lord. All of the plans and defenses of Jesus’s enemies and persecutors were in vain. The image of the angel sitting on the stone before the tomb is the concrete, visible manifestation of God’s victory over evil, of Christ’s victory over the prince of this world, of light over darkness. Jesus’ tomb was not opened by a physical phenomenon, but by the Lord’s intervention. The angel’s appearance, Matthew continues, “was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow. (v. 3). These details are symbols that confirm the intervention of God himself, bearer of a new era, of the last times of history.

There is a twofold reaction in beholding this intervention on God’s part. That of the guards who cannot face the overwhelming power of God and are shaken by an interior earthquake: they became like dead men (see v. 4). The power of the Resurrection overthrows those who had been used to guarantee the apparent victory of death. The women’s reaction is very different because they are expressly invited by the angel of the Lord not to be afraid– “Do not be afraid!” (v. 5) – and not to seek Jesus in the tomb.

We can reap a precious teaching from the angel’s words: we should never tire of seeking the risen Christ who gives life in abundance to those who meet him. To find Christ means to discover peace of heart. The same women of the Gospel, after initially being shaken, experience great joy in discovering the Master alive (see vv. 8-9). In this Easter Season, my wish is that everyone might have the same spiritual experience, welcoming in our hearts, in our homes and in our families the joyful proclamation of Easter: “Christ, having risen from the dead dies now no more; death will no longer have dominion over him” (Communion Antiphon).

This certainty moves us to pray today and throughout the Easter Season: “Regina Caeli, Laetare – Queen of Heaven, rejoice”. The angel Gabriel had greeted her thus the first time: “Rejoice, full of grace!” (see Lk 1:28). Now Mary’s joy is complete: Jesus lives, Love has conquered. May this be our joy as well!