POPE FRANCIS GOES TO WASHINGTON
I’m sure you’ve not missed a minute of today’s coverage of Pope Francis’ first full day in America, specifically in Washington, D.C. – from the hugs and handshakes of high school students as he exited the apostolic nunciature where he is a guest of Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the apostolic nuncio to the United States to the reception on the White House Lawn with 15,000 guests invited by President Obama to welcome the Holy Father.
As I write, that reception is over but the Pope’s day still includes a meeting with U.S. bishops at St. Matthew cathedral in Washington at 11:30 am (local time), lunch at the nunciature at 1 pm and then Mass at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception during which Pope Francis will canonize Blessed Junipero Serra.
You may have heard the Pop speak at the White House – below is his talk. He later visited various rooms of the White House including the Oval Office. Here is a photo of the gift that Francis gave to President Obama – a bronze medal that depicts ths upcoming Eighth World Meeting of Families
Here is Pope Francis’ talk:
I am deeply grateful for your welcome in the name of all Americans. As the son of an immigrant family, I am happy to be a guest in this country, which was largely built by such families. I look forward to these days of encounter and dialogue, in which I hope to listen to, and share, many of the hopes and dreams of the American people.
During my visit I will have the honor of addressing Congress, where I hope, as a brother of this country, to offer words of encouragement to those called to guide the nation’s political future in fidelity to its founding principles. I will also travel to Philadelphia for the Eighth World Meeting of Families, to celebrate and support the institutions of marriage and the family at this, a critical moment in the history of our civilization.
Mr. President, together with their fellow citizens, American Catholics are committed to building a society which is truly tolerant and inclusive, to safeguarding the rights of individuals and communities, and to rejecting every form of unjust discrimination. With countless other people of good will, they are likewise concerned that efforts to build a just and wisely ordered society respect their deepest concerns and their right to religious liberty. That freedom remains one of America’s most precious possessions. And, as my brothers, the United States Bishops, have reminded us, all are called to be vigilant, precisely as good citizens, to preserve and defend that freedom from everything that would threaten or compromise it.
Mr. President, I find it encouraging that you are proposing an initiative for reducing air pollution. Accepting the urgency, it seems clear to me also that climate change is a problem which can no longer be left to a future generation. When it comes to the care of our “common home”, we are living at a critical moment of history. We still have time to make the changes needed to bring about “a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change” (Laudato Si’, 13). Such change demands on our part a serious and responsible recognition not only of the kind of world we may be leaving to our children, but also to the millions of people living under a system which has overlooked them. Our common home has been part of this group of the excluded which cries out to heaven and which today powerfully strikes our homes, our cities and our societies. To use a telling phrase of the Reverend Martin Luther King, we can say that we have defaulted on a promissory note and now is the time to honor it.
We know by faith that “the Creator does not abandon us; he never forsakes his loving plan or repents of having created us. Humanity still has the ability to work together in building our common home” (Laudato Si’, 13). As Christians inspired by this certainty, we wish to commit ourselves to the conscious and responsible care of our common home.
The efforts which were recently made to mend broken relationships and to open new doors to cooperation within our human family represent positive steps along the path of reconciliation, justice and freedom. I would like all men and women of good will in this great nation to support the efforts of the international community to protect the vulnerable in our world and to stimulate integral and inclusive models of development, so that our brothers and sisters everywhere may know the blessings of peace and prosperity which God wills for all his children.
Mr. President, once again I thank you for your welcome, and I look forward to these days in your country. God bless America!
Click here for President Obama’s remarks at White House reception for Pope Francis: http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2015/09/23/barack-obamas-remarks-at-the-welcoming-ceremony-for-pope-francis/
PAPAL COAT OF ARMS, THE FLAG, HYMN, SEAL AND COAT OF ARMS OF VATICAN CITY
Coat of Arms of Pope Francis
Pope Francis has decided to keep his previous coat of arms, chosen at the time of his episcopal consecration and marked by linear simplicity.
The blue shield is surmounted by the symbols of papal dignity, the same as those used by his Predecessor Benedict XVI (the mitre above crossed keys of gold and silver, bound by the red cord). At the top of the shield is the emblem of Pope’s religious order, the Society of Jesus: a radiant sun carrying the letters in red, ihs, the monogram of Jesus. The letter ‘h’ is crowned by a cross; beneath the letters are three black nails.
Lower down on the shield there is a star and spikenard flower. The star, according to ancient armorial tradition, symbolizes the Virgin Mary, the Mother of Christ and the Church; while the spikenard symbolizes St Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church. In traditional Hispanic iconography, St Joseph is shown with a vine in his hand. By bearing these images on his shield, the Pope communicates his special devotion to the Most Holy Virgin and to St Joseph.
The motto of Pope Francis is taken from a passage from the venerable Bede, Homily 21 (CCL 122, 149-151), on the Feast of Matthew, which reads: Vidit ergo Jesus publicanum, et quia miserando atque eligendo vidit, ait illi, ‘Sequere me’. [Jesus therefore sees the tax collector, and since he sees by having mercy and by choosing, he says to him, ‘follow me’.]
This homily is a tribute to Divine Mercy and is read during the Liturgy of the Hours on the Feast of St Matthew. This has particular significance in the life and spirituality of the Pope. In fact, on the Feast of St Matthew in 1953, the young Jorge Bergoglio experienced, at the age of 17, in a very special way, the loving presence of God in his life. Following confession, he felt his heart touched and he sensed the descent of the Mercy of God, who with a gaze of tender love, called him to religious life, following the example of St Ignatius of Loyola.
Once he had been ordained a Bishop, H.E. Mons. Bergoglio, in memory of this event that signified the beginning of his total consecration to God in His Church, chose, as his motto and as his programme of life, the words of St Bede: miserando atque eligendo. This he has chosen to keep in his papal coat of arms.
The Pontifical Hymn
On the occasion of the 1950 Holy Year, His Holiness Pius XII decided that Charles Gounod’s (1818-1893) Pontifical March should become the official hymn, executed for the first time as such on 24 December 1949. The Pontifical March, as it was called by the Author (and according to some also known as Religious March), took on the new title of Pontifical Hymn, thus replacing the old Anthem composed by Vittorino Hallmayr in 1857 in the style of that period. Gounod, a man of sincere faith, had composed for the Priestly Jubilee Anniversary of His Holiness Pius IX the above-mentioned march, which was performed for the first time in his presence on 11 April 1869 by 7 military bands in Saint Peter’s Square. In spite of the success, it did not substitute the old Hallmayr’s Anthem for 81 years.
English translation of text composed by Msgr. Antonio Allegra:
O Rome immortal of Martyrs and Saints, O immortal Rome, accept our praises: Glory in the heavens to God our Lord, And peace to men who love Christ!
To You we come, Angelic Pastor, In You we see the gentle Redeemer, The Holy Heir of true and holy Faith; Comfort and refuge of those who believe and fight.
Force and terror will not prevail, But Truth and Love will reign.
The Flag of Vatican City State
The flag of Vatican City was adopted on June 7, 1929, the year that Pope Pius XI signed the Lateran Treaty with Italy, creating a new independent State governed by the Holy See. The flag was created on earlier models of papal flags.
The flag consists of two vertical bands, one of gold or yellow (hoist side) and one of white with the cross keys of St. Peter and the Papal Tiara centered in the white band. The crossed keys consist of a golden and a silver key, in which the silver key is placed in the dexter position. The flag is one of only two officially square country flags in the world, the other being the flag of Switzerland.
The Vatican City Coat of Arms can be found in the white half. The coat of arms consists of:
- the papal tiara (as used under the pontificate of Pius XI);
- the two keys which represent the keys to Heaven (according to the Gospel of Matthew 16:19) given by Jesus to Peter. The Popes are regarded as the successor of Peter, and the gold and silver keys have been significant elements in the symbolism of the Holy See since the 13th century. The gold represents spiritual power, while the silver key represents worldly power. The order of the keys on the coat of arms of Vatican City is the reverse of the coat of arms of the Holy See, in order to distinguish between the two entities.
- a red cord connecting the keys.
The yellow and white of the flag also refer to the keys – in heraldic terminology, there is no distinction between yellow and gold (the metallic color or), nor between white and silver (argent).
The flag is flown or displayed worldwide in Roman Catholic churches and institutions, usually alongside the national flag of where the church or institution is located.
Coat of Arms of Vatican City State
The symbolism is drawn from the Gospel and is represented by the keys given to the Apostle Peter by Christ.
The insignia is red with the two keys crossed as the Cross of St. Andrew, one gold and one silver, with the cotter pointed upwards and towards the sides of the shield. Two cords hang from the grips of the keys, usually red or blue.
The shield is surmounted by the tiara or triregnum.
Two ribbons hang from the tiara, each with a patent cross.
Ordinarily the keys have the mechanical part placed up, facing to the right and the left and usually in the form of a cross, not for the mechanisms of a lock, but as a religious symbol. The grips vary according to artistic taste, from the Gothic to the Baroque.
Since the XIV Century, the two crossed keys have been the official insignia of the Holy See. The gold one, on the right, alludes to the power in the kingdom of the heavens, the silver one, on the left, indicates the spiritual authority of the papacy on earth. The mechanisms are turned up towards the heaven and the grips turned down, in other words into the hands of the Vicar of Christ. The cord with the bows that unites the grips alludes to the bond between the two powers.
Seal of Vatican City State –
Round: central field with the crossed keys and surmounted by the tiara, framed by four concentric circles, with a pearled external one, two by two. Enclosing the epigraph: STATO DELLA CITTÀ DEL VATICANO, with the beginning and the end at the bottom, separated by eight-pointed stars.