MEMORIAL OF BLESSED VIRGIN MARY MOTHER OF THE CHURCH.
At the request of Pope Francis, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, with a decree dated February 11, 2018, ordered the inscription of the memory of the “Blessed Virgin Mary Mother of the Church” in the General Roman Calendar. The memorial, mandatory for the entire Church of the Roman Rite, is celebrated on the Monday after Pentecost.
I’ve been asked quite often about the mosaic of Mary that is located fairly high up on the exterior of the Apostolic Palace overlooking St. Peter’s Square – about 1 o’clock if the basilica is noon. Many have noted it did not seem to fit in with the architecture of the building. In fact the apostolic palace is a complex of buildings with over 1,000 rooms and halls that date from various historical periods, many of which are, however, from the Renaissance.
The mosaic is indeed more modern and has quite a lovely story, almost a love story, if you will. For the story, we enter St. Peter’s Basilica and walk down the left aisle to the very end where we will find the Chapel of the Column. It is just beyond the Prayer Door entrance to the basilica and, most unfortunately, is not available to visitors as this area has been roped off.
Over the altar in the Chapel of the Column is an image of the Blessed Virgin painted on a column that came from the first basilica. In 1607 the image was placed on this altar designed by Giacomo Della Porta and is framed by stunning marble and priceless alabaster columns. On November 21, 1964, Pope Paul VI bestowed on this image the title of “Mater Ecclesiae” – Mother of the Church. (jfl photos)
St. John Paul II had always wondered how on earth Mary – whom he dearly loved – was not among the 140 statues atop the basilica facade and the monumental colonnades that were designed by Bernini. When he was shot in St. Peter’s Square on May 13, 1981, the Pope credited the hand of the Virgin – his mosaic Mary – with deflecting the bullet that would have killed him.
Dissuaded from eliminating one of the 140 statues to replace it with Mary, he had a mosaic reproduction of it set on the external wall of the Apostolic Palace facing St. Peter’s Square. St. John Paul’s motto – Totus tuus – all yours – is on this mosaic.
VATICAN UPGRADES FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION, COST OVERRUNS, DEFICITS
The big story today at the Vatican was the publication of a motu proprio by Pope Francis with specific, enforceable guidelines for those engaged in the fight against corruption, cost overruns and unfair competition in the awarding of contracts for services and goods in the mini State. Such measures are long overdue and the current document is the result of four years of work by the Pope and a team of advisors from various Vatican offices seeking to bring transparency, control and competition in the procedures for the award of public contracts of the Holy See and of the Vatican City State.
The motu proprio (meaning of the pope’s own initiative and hand) was published in today’s Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano and will enter into force in 30 days. The document is 34 pages long.
A Vatican communiqué said, “The document is the result of a synergistic work coordinated by the Secretariat of State between the various entities of the Roman Curia, including the Council for the Economy, the Secretariat for the Economy, the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See and the Governorate of the Vatican City State. It is a unique code, which goes beyond the regulation currently in force in some individual realities and now applies to all entities referable to the Holy See and the Vatican City State.”
The communique added that, “The legislation is part of the most advanced international legislation on the subject. The guiding principle of the new text is the diligence of the good father of a family who wants an effective and ethical management of his resources, which at the same time promotes transparency, control and fair treatment of real competition between those who wish to establish an economic relationship with the interested bodies.”
In its report of the Motu proprio, Vatican news wrote that “Article 1 explains the purposes of the new law, which are: the sustainable use of internal funds, transparency of award procedures, “equal treatment and non-discrimination of tenderers, in particular through measures to combat illegal competition agreements and corruption.”
“Article 5,” continued Vatican news, “lists the fundamental principles which are founded on “ethicality orienting the economic choices and the interlocutors upon parameters of respect for the Social Doctrine of the Church; administrative autonomy, and subsidiarity in the management choices of the Body; loyal collaboration between the Entities and the different sections of the Governorate.”
“The goal is to obtain “cost-savings, effectiveness, and efficiency” through “planning and rationalization of expenditure,” while avoiding unnecessary operations, and in particular an award procedure which “must be transparent, objective, and impartial.”
“Measures are taken against conflicts of interest, illegal competition agreements, and corruption. These serve to avoid ‘any distortion of competition and ensure equal treatment of all economic operators.’
“Economic operators who become subject to investigation, prevention measures, or convictions at first instance for ‘participation in a criminal organization, corruption, fraud, terrorist offences,’ ‘laundering of the proceeds of criminal activities,’ and ‘he exploitation of child labour’ must be excluded from the Register and participation in tenders.
“One of the causes of exclusion is the failure to fulfill ‘obligations relating to the payment of taxes or social security contributions in accordance with the regulations of the country in which the operator is incorporated’, as well as residing or having settled in States ‘with privileged tax regimes.’
“Except in certain cases established as exceptions, ‘all goods and services, under penalty of nullity of the relevant contract, are ordinarily acquired by the Entities in a centralized manner.’ The ‘centralized authorities’, reads Article 15, include both APSA ‘in matters concerning the Dicasteries of the Roman Curia’ and institutions connected to the Holy See, as well as the Governorate. There are exceptions to centralization, but they must be duly justified.”
“Every six months, the Secretariat for the Economy, having consulted with APSA, will publish and update ‘the list of prices and the reference fees for goods and services’, together with the labour costs of the professionals registered in the Register. These will take into consideration prices and fees in the markets where the Vatican institutions are supplied. Vatican Entities are required to plan their purchases by 31 October of each year.”
POPE GIFTS AMBULANCE FOR THE POOR TO APOSTOLIC ALMONER
Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, the Apostolic Almoner, announced today in a communique that yesterday morning, Pentecost Sunday, before he celebrated Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Altar of the Chair, Pope Francis blessed an ambulance for the poor of Rome. The Pope entrusted this new gift to the Apostolic Almoner for the very poor of Rome, “especially the homeless who live the difficulties of the road and who seek refuge in the surroundings of the Vatican or in makeshift shelters in Rome. The ambulance, registered SCV, is part of those used for rescue within the Vatican State and was made available by the Governorate exclusively to assist and help the poorest, who remain almost invisible to the institutions.” (photos from Almoner’s office)
The ambulance is only part of the medical assistance of the Apostolic Almone for the poor and homeless that this office, with the approval of Pope Francis, has set up including, the Mobile Polyclinic that brings treatment to the poorest and marginalized in the suburbs of Rome and the Mother of Mercy Outpatient Clinic under the right hand colonnade of St. Peter’s Square that offers medical care. This remained open throughout the Covid-19 emergency.