I hope and pray that all of you, your families and friends, had a beautiful, prayer-filled, safe and happy Easter. Vatican employees are now on the last day of their six-day Easter break, returning to work tomorrow, though many who staff the press office and Secretariat of State had to fill in some of those days. As you will see, the Monday after Easter is a national holiday and I took some time off but was around yesterday to visit At Home with Jim and Joy!

Life returns to normal here tomorrow as Pope Francis will preside the general audience in St. Peter’s square.

PS. For a good understanding of Vatican diplomacy, you will want to read the entire interview by Archbishop Gabriele Caccia, Holy See Permanent observer to the United Nations!|


Yesterday in Italy was Pasquetta, Little Easter, a huge national holiday here. It’s a big day for families as they spend it together with the main attraction being a long, festive meal. When weather allows, that meal usually takes the form of a picnic. The huge numbers of families and children I’ve seen these past days bring joy to the heart and a smile to one’s face!

And there were big numbers at the papal Easter Mass of the Resurrection Sunday in St. Peter’s Square – an estimated 45,000 at Mass and more than double that for the traditional Easter Urbi et Orbi – to the city and the world – message! After days of cool weather and intermittent rain, thankfully sunshine blessed the day! (Photos are both Vatican media and EWTN/CNA)

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Almost as many flowers from the Netherlands – 35,000 flowers and plants – decorated the square. This offering from Dutch florists follows a tradition begun in 1985 with the beatification of the Dutch Carmelite priest Titus Brandsma.

Pope Francis presided over the Mass of the Resurrection but, as is traditional, did not pronounce a homily as he had already delivered his reflections at the Easter Vigil Mass. Three hundred priests, 15 bishops, and 31 cardinals concelebrated. Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, dean of the College of Cardinals, celebrated at the altar due to Francis’ ongoing mobility issues.

In his lengthy Urbi et Orbi message, the Holy Father began by announcing “the joyous message of this day when we proclaim that Christ is risen.” He went on to say that, “in Jesus, the passage of humanity from death to life, sin to grace, fear to confidence and desolation to communion has been made,” he said. “And this means that humanity’s journey has a sure footing in hope and therefore can move forward with confidence in facing the many challenges now and ahead.”

“The Lord has built us a bridge to life” in defeating death, stressed Francis, “making it for us “the most important and beautiful day of history.”

Easter Monday, also known as Monday of the Angel, the Holy Father recited the Regina Coeli with the faithful gathered at noon in St. Peter’s Square. This prayer replaces the Angelus during the Easter season.


Interview with the Holy See’s Permanent Observer to the UN on the relevance of St. John XXIII’s encyclical 60 years after its publication. Archbishop Gabriele Caccia reiterates the Vatican’s commitment in favour of multilateralism and dialogue between peoples and nations and draws a connection between “Pacem in terris” and Pope Francis’ “Fratelli tutti.”

Sixty years after its publication, Pacem in terris (Peace on earth) continues to be the North Star that points the way for those who, especially in the field of diplomacy, are committed to promoting dialogue between peoples and building peace between nations. Archbishop Gabriele Giordano Caccia, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations in New York, is convinced of this. In this interview with L’Osservatore Romano, the prelate underlines the topicality of St. John XXIII’s encyclical and reiterates the Vatican’s support for international organisations and multilateralism at a time marked by wars and confrontations never experienced since the Cuban Missile Crisis.

You have served the Holy See for many years. How much has Pacem in terris influenced the vision and commitment of Vatican diplomacy for peace over the last 60 years and on what points in particular?

The encyclical was written after the first great international crisis in which the so-called “Cuban Missile Crisis” and its nuclear threat put the world at risk of planetary destruction. The encyclical allowed us to once again view a sky cleared of the clouds that had gathered, and to rediscover the polar star, which indicates the direction of the path, rather than the concrete roads to be undertaken. The text, as the title clearly states, deals with the theme of peace and extends to the complex network of relations both at an interpersonal level with rights and duties, and to the relationships between the individual and public authority, and between states. Moreover, the encyclical is significantly situated in the broader context of a particularly lively season regarding the Church’s reflection on its relationship with the world, that of the Second Vatican Council, which had just begun. Therefore it is rich with ideas and issues that will later be taken up in broader and more diversified contexts. However, I would like to emphasise the issue of disarmament.

To read full interview: Vatican Observer to UN: ‘Pacem in terris’ guiding star for path of peace – Vatican News



This is one of my favorite paintings of all times! A few years back I was blessed to see the original in an art exhibit at Castel Sant’Angelo titled “The Path to Peter”!

Over the years, maybe even starting in childhood, John and Peter as depicted here are as I had pictured them (created them) in my mind’s eye! Burnand gave me my vision!

“Peter and John Running to the Tomb” by Swiss artist Eugène Burnand (1850 – 1921)






Eugène Burnand, 1898, Peter and John running to the Tomb, Musée D’Orsay, Paris

1 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.



Coronavirus has a new victim – St. Peter’s Square!

I learned of this interesting but somewhat sad story on a Dutch news site and, with the help of Google translate and tweaking some grammar, you’ll see how Easter will be quite different in the Vatican this year.

The last sentence of the story says: “The Vatican has yet to be notified.”  I’m guessing they know now.


A Christian online news site is reporting that, for the first time in 35 years, there will be no flowers gracing the central loggia of the basilica and the papal altar in St. Peter’s Square at Easter. The annual tradition of placing a sea of flowers on the balcony for the Urbi et Orbi blessing and on the square for the papal Easter Mass will end this year, according to the chief flower arranger of this event, Paul Deckers.

A florist from Posterhold in Limburg, Holland, he told the online paper http://www.nd.dl that he can no longer find sponsors after two years of coronavirus and that, from this year on, St. Peter’s Square will have to do without the Dutch floral splendor.

Deckers has been involved in the flower arrangement on the square since 1988 and responsible for its organization and realization since 2015. “The sponsors are stopping, it no longer fits in with their marketing policy,” says Deckers. “And that while we had a global platform for Dutch floriculture since 1986.” (www.nd.nl file photo)

The floral decoration of the square had been canceled for the past two years due to the pandemic.  Deckers said, “Dozens of growers took part. Rose growers, tree growers, daffodil bulb growers, hyacinths, blue grapes and tulips, you name it. We had thirty employees who transformed St. Peter’s Square in one day, with everything .- flowers, trees, shrubes, – transported in refrigerated trucks. It’s all over.” This was a project rooted in Dutch society, he added, especially with the annual papal ‘Thank you for the flowers’.”

”I saw the realization of the annual flower decoration, together with my fantastic team, all parties involved and growers, as a privilege and honor. I am grateful that we have had the opportunity to present Dutch floral art and floriculture on an international platform for many years. The fact that I received the ‘Benemerenti’ papal award from Pope Francis in 2015 is the crown on my work. Pope John Paul II, then Pope Benedict XVI and then Pope Francis expressed their thanks for the flowers from the Netherlands. This compliment is unique and of great value.”

“I’m losing 15 kilos of weight as the last few months have not been easy, because of all that tug-of-war,” he sighed on Thursday. The Vatican has yet to be notified.

Some photos I once took a few days after Easter in St. Peter’s Square:




Easter was very quiet here as it was for tens of millions, probably hundreds of million of Christians around the world due to restrictions imposed by the coronavirus. I had expected to “attend” Mass in the Catholic America parish of St. Patrick’s as the priests and lectors and our cantor, as they have done for weeks for the Sunday Masses, had all done their individual parts via video segments filmed at home and in church, and the segments were the all put together by talented Paulist Fathers in NY and DC.

However, I awoke to find I was without my landline phone and Internet, so I could not watch that Mass online as expected. I was able to watch Pope Francis’ Mass and powerful Urbi et Orbi address and blessings on EWTN.

Pope Francis spoke about contagion, principally the contagion of hope. As vaticannews reminded us: “Pope Francis’ Urbi et Orbi message on Easter Sunday challenges us to ban indifference, self-centredness, division and forgetfulness during this time of Covid-19 – and to spread the ‘contagion’ of hope.”

Definitely food for thought on this very different Easter Sunday.

EWTN broke away briefly at the end of Mass and, as I sought to see if anyone else was carrying the papal Mass and Urbi et Orbi, I was delighted to find that Fox News channel had transmitted the entire Mass and was transmitting the Urbi et Orbi as I tuned in! In fact their Sunday correspondents spoke about faith and hope and Easter after the transmission but also, for some time, kept images of St. Peter’s Basilica on a split screen!

I did celebrate the day with my usual Sunday brunch – this week wonderful, crispy bacon, scrambled eggs, toast and jelly and a mimosa!

I look forward to returning to Homebaked for brunch as soon as restrictions are lifted on places that serve food. My favorite is their great bacon and savory French toast combination!

I was able to do a few things during the day on my cell phone but basically found non-Internet things to do, being locked in my home and locked out of cyberspace.

Yesterday was Easter Monday – Pasquetta or Little Easter – and is also known here as Monday of the Angel, a big holiday in Italy. This day recalls the meeting between the women who went to Jesus’ tomb, sad to see it empty but then rejoicing when an angel comforted them, saying the Savior had risen!

Italians typically dedicate Easter Monday to family outings, most often celebrating a picnic meal at midday. If you google Pasquetta or Little Easter, chances are you’ll find more menus for picnics than you will information on its history!  However, I am sure the only family picnics took place on balconies or terraces this year!

And the weather on Easter Sunday and Monday was superb – sunny, blue skies and about 70 degrees!

By the way, the noon prayer in this post-Easter time is the Regina Coeli, not the Angelus.

Allow me to offer some beautiful words pronounced by Pope Benedict on Easter Monday 2012, his last pasquetta as pontiff,** that have always been seared into my mind and heart: He noted that the Gospel writers do not describe the Resurrection itself. “That event remains mysterious – not as something unreal, but as something beyond the reach of our knowledge – as a light so bright the eyes cannot bear it.”

Benedict said, “the Gospel narration begins with the morning after the sabbath when the women run to the sepulchre, find it empty and hear an angel tell them the Lord has risen. As they run in turn to tell the disciples, they meet Jesus….”

“In those days in Israel,” said Benedict, “women’s testimony could have no official legal value. Nevertheless, women have experienced a special bond with the Lord, that is fundamental to the day-to-day life of the Christian community, and this is always true, in every age, not only at the beginning of the Church’s pilgrim journey.”

The Pope emeritus stressed how, “in all the Gospels, women play a big role in the stories of the appearance of the resurrected Jesus, and also in the passion and death of Jesus.”

** Pope Francis was elected to the papacy on March 13, 2013 and Easter that year fell on March 31st.

Part of my Easter Monday was spent working on a computer virus. I am starting to dislike the number 13! On Friday, March 13 I arrived back in Italy from NYC to find I was joining millions in quarantine. And yesterday, April 13 there was another kind of virus

By the way, the Vatican said in a communique today that, “Following up on the press release of April 3, the Holy See extends until May 3 all the measures that have been adopted to date to deal with the health emergency from Covid-19.” 

Following is an interesting article about disinfecting historic sites during the coronavirus era. It is from Atlas Obscura, a fascinating website that offers daily emails with some of their interesting and unusual stories.  I subscribe and never let offers daily emails go unread. Fantastic if you have kids in school as well – a wonderful learning tool!


Unsung workers around the world on the front lines of the pandemic fight

By Winnie Lee, April 9, 2020

The Giza pyramid complex. The Leaning Tower of Pisa. The Western Wall. These historic sites and others all over the world are usually teeming with tourists, vendors, and guides. But as they close and empty due to COVID-19, the tourists have been replaced by other figures. Municipal workers from sanitation and utility departments, as well as volunteers, can be seen sanitizing these public places. Usually clad in masks, gloves, and protective suits, their job is often to pressure wash these famous spots or spray them with disinfectant.

Click here to continue and see photos: https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/disinfecting-historic-sites?utm_source=Atlas+Obscura+Daily+Newsletter&utm_campaign=b4e810dc8a-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2020_04_13&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_f36db9c480-b4e810dc8a-65778941&mc_cid=b4e810dc8a&mc_eid=5388373051


As promised by the weatherman, it snowed today, Easter Monday, in New York City – beautiful but not lasting or treacherous. The temp really dropped overnight for this to happen but it seems we have been promised slightly warmer days ahead, though probably some rain. I have been here since Holy Thursday and we’ve had everything except a heat wave! Maybe I should be careful what I write!

My days have been filled with liturgies of the Easter Triduum at St. Patrick’s cathedral, as well as lovely visits and shared meals with a handful of the many friends I have in NYC.

Easter Mass at St, Patrick’s was splendid, as the Mass of the Resurrection should be! Two of my best friends, Peter and Blanche, had tickets for the 10:15 Mass with Cardinal Timothy Dolan, a man we have all known for a number of years. Sitting in the front row was quiet special, as was being welcomed into the cardinal’s home with a number of other close friends after the Eucharistic celebration.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral –

I was very privileged later to share Easter lunch with Cardinal Dolan, five priests from the archdiocese, including his secretary (another longtime friend) Sr. Rosaria, a delightful Irish nun and luncheon companion who has known the cardinal for decades, Fr. Jonathan Morris (whom many of you might know from his appearances on FoxNews) and Bill Hemmer of FoxNews. A scrumptious meal but the best food was that for the soul – the conversation and gales of laughter!

Easter Sunday Mass –

Note that the ushers wear tails (on special days, I presume) –

AFTER MASS – So, Your Eminence, I have a question….


By Robin Gomes (vaticannews.va)

Pope Francis on Monday urged Christians to build fraternity, saying only fraternity can guarantee lasting peace, defeat poverty, extinguish tensions and wars, and eradicate corruption and crime. Speaking to thousands of pilgrims and faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the noon Regina Coeli prayer, the Pope said fraternity lived by the first Christians is also needed today.

“He is risen” – shocking

Easter Monday, which is celebrated as ‘Pasquetta’ or ‘Little Easter’ holiday in Italy, is also called “Monday of the Angel,” after the Gospel episode of the angel in the empty tomb of Jesus. The Pope said that the words “He is risen,” spoken by the angel to the women, could be uttered only by “a superior being to communicate a reality so shocking, so incredible, that perhaps no man would dare to pronounce it.” The community of disciples later began to repeat it.

Fraternity builds common good, social justice

Pope Francis noted that after Easter, on Monday of the Angel, we feel the need to reunite and celebrate with our loved ones and friends. By rising again from death, the Pope explained, Jesus broke down the wall of division between men, restored peace, and began weaving the fabric of a new fraternity. The Holy Father underscored the importance of rediscovering fraternity in our time, just as it was lived in the early Christian communities.

The Pope said, “There cannot be a true communion and a commitment to the common good and social justice without fraternity and sharing.” “Without fraternal sharing, an authentic ecclesial or civil community cannot be created: there can only be a group of individuals motivated by their own interests,” the Pope warned.

Dialogue and relationship

The Resurrection of Christ, the Pope said, has made the novelty of dialogue and of the relationship explode in the world, a novelty that has become “a responsibility for Christians”. He recalled Jesus telling that the world would come know they were his disciples from their love for one another.

This is why, the Pope explained, we cannot close ourselves in our privacy, in our group, but we are called to take care of the common good, to take care of our brothers, especially the weakest and most marginalized. Only fraternity, the Pope stressed, can guarantee lasting peace, defeat poverty, extinguish tensions and wars, and can eradicate corruption and crime.

The Pope concluded urging all to implore the Virgin Mary help all make fraternity and communion their lifestyle and the soul of their relationships.

Witnesses of peace

After reciting the Regina Coeli prayer and imparting his blessing, Pope Francis greeted various groups from Italy and around the world present in the square. He exhorted them to be witnesses of the peace of the risen Lord especially to the “most fragile and disadvantaged” people. In this regard, he reminded them about the World Autism Awareness Day observed on April 2.

The Holy Father also invoked peace on the entire world, especially on populations suffering because of ongoing conflicts. He renewed his appeal for those kidnapped or unjustly denied their liberty, that they be released and be allowed to return to their homes.


The Easter prayer Regina Coeli (“Queen of Heaven” in Latin) is a tribute to the Lord’s resurrection and to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Authorship of the prayer is unknown but it can be traced back to the 12th century and was used by Franciscans after Compline (night prayer) in the first half of the 13th century. The prayer is one of four antiphons (short liturgical texts sung or chanted dedicated to the Mother of the Lord. It is often sung as a hymn and has had numerous musical settings in its original Latin text, including several by Mozart. Traditionally, it is prayed standing, often at noon, in place of the Angelus during the Easter Season from Holy Saturday until Pentecost. For that reason, the Pope’s window addresses during the Easter Season are referred to as “Regina Coeli” Addresses.

Latin Text:

℣. Regina cæli, lætare, alleluia:
℟. Quia quem meruisti portare, alleluia,
℣. Resurrexit, sicut dixit, alleluia,
℟. Ora pro nobis Deum, alleluia.
℣. Gaude et lætare, Virgo Maria, alleluia.
℟. Quia surrexit Dominus vere, alleluia.

℣. Oremus:
Deus, qui per resurrectionem Filii tui, Domini nostri Iesu Christi,
mundum lætificare dignatus es:
præsta, quæsumus, ut per eius Genitricem Virginem Mariam,
perpetuæ capiamus gaudia vitæ.
Per eundem Christum Dominum nostrum.
℟. Amen.

English version:

Queen of Heaven, rejoice, alleluia.
For He whom you did merit to bear, alleluia.
Has risen, as he said, alleluia.
Pray for us to God, alleluia.
Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, alleluia.
For the Lord has truly risen, alleluia.

Let us pray.
O God, who gave joy to the world through the resurrection
of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ,
grant we beseech you,
that through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, His Mother,
we may obtain the joys of everlasting life.
Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.



My favorite painting in the world – Eugene Burnand’s Saints Peter and John running to the tomb – their faces filled with hope, disbelief, incredulity and perhaps something verging on joy! Has He risen as He said! Will we again be together!

The first time I ever saw this I was overwhelmed with my own emotions because the John and Peter I met in this paining were as I had always imagined Jesus’two companions and Apostles!


Today is Pasquetta, Little Easter in Italy, a big holiday throughout much of Europe.

I am celebrating Easter for the first time in many years in the U.S., and it has been beautiful from the moment I got off the plane on Holy Saturday afternoon to this minute that I am preparing today’s column. The only difficult moments occurred when I had to try and ward off some jet lag at the always very lengthy and always extraordinarily Easter Vigil Mass!

I attended this Mass at St. Matthew’s cathedral in Washington, with Cardinal Donald Wuerl presiding. Every person who had a role that evening did a superb job, from the ushers to the choir, from musicians to eucharistic ministers, from truly amazing lectors to beautifully talented cantors.

I was just grateful that it was at the start of Mass that the church was darkened, lit only by hundreds of small candles, and not at the end of Mass!

Easter Sunday was beautiful in every way – weather-wise and celebration-wise. My hostess Margaret Melady and I spent the afternoon with her daughter, son-in law and four teenage grandchildren. It was a joy – a terrific meal, lots of great conversation and for me, just being in a family was the best part of the day, enjoying a home and back yard and tons of flowers in bloom.

I could have driven around DC for an hour just to take photos of the azaleas, cherry blossoms, wisteria, roses, magnolias, bouquets of crocuses and colorful daffodils that carpet the landscape. Some neighborhoods and individual homes were beyond breathtaking!

Easter is obviously a family day, a day off from work for many of us so I waited until today to want to share a story with you that actually has yesterday’s timeline – April 16, 2017 – Easter Sunday and also the 90th birthday of our beloved Pope emeritus Benedict XVI. He was born on Holy Saturday and marked 90 years on Easter Sunday!  Does it get any better!


Once upon a time…..

My paternal grandparents had two lovely summer homes on a large piece of property on Lake Michigan that were used alternately by my parents and my Dad’s sisters and brother throughout June, July and August every summer. The main home was called White Ledge and was a legend in the area for many reasons but mainly because it could accommodate about 30 guests on a weekend – many bedrooms and bathrooms and, of course, a huge dining room and kitchen. My grandmother spent six months a year at this home and hosted many philanthropic and church events in the house or gardens.

One of my grandfather’s brothers – our great-Uncle Frank and great-Aunt Julia – had a rather large estate about a mile up the road from our property. Because the Catholic populace grew so much when people came up for the summer, the small local church could not handle everyone, even with multiple Sunday morning Masses (no evening Masses in those years), and so my aunt and uncle obtained permission to have Mass outdoors at their home on Sunday.

They were great philanthropists and the Church was the focus of their lives. It was quite common for them to invite some of their closest friends – cardinals, bishops, priests and seminarians – to spend the weekend at their Michigan summer home. The main house was quite large and they a number of almost equally large year-round homes on the property for their large family and for guests.

Every Saturday night, the caretaker Ignatz would set up the “pews” – the benches and kneelers – for a couple hundred people. And every Sunday morning, before the 10 a.m. Mass, big bunches of gladioli were cut and put into tall vases near the altar – which was at the top of some steps going up to my uncle’s main porch. My brothers and some of our young cousins often served as altar boys in those years.

My Dad and uncles served as ushers and Sunday morning Mass at Aunt Julia’s and Uncle Frank’s was often a family affair! I do remember Aunt Julia telling us once, years later that, for 30 summers, it never rained on a Sunday morning between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m.! I know she had several relics she would bring out each Sunday and place on her pew.

Over the years I met many prelates, as you can imagine. I just wish I had thought then of keeping a diary!

One of the priests I remember seeing when I was fairly small was Fr. Toohey. I remember him as being a delightful man who always wore a big smile and was very grandfatherly.

Years later, when I arrived home on vacation, I noticed a beautiful chalice in my parents’ home and asked the about it.

Dad told me that his parents, my grandparents, had paid for a young man – Fr. Toohey – to attend seminary on Chicago and on his ordination day, gave him this chalice.

Yes, he was ordained on April 16, 1927! The very day Pope Benedict was born! It is a little hard to see in this photo of the bottom of the chalice.

And, of all the truly amazing things, the chalice was made in Germany!


I have been told – and have to explore this further! – that these markings indicate exactly where in Germany this was made and by whom.

The bottom of the chalice reads: “Presented to Rev. Leo Raphael Toohey by Mr. and Mrs. William H. Lewis on his ordination day – April 16 AD 1927.”

The chalice was purchased at Edward Koenig Company in Chicago. It was given to my grandfather when Fr. Toohey died at 53 on January 8, 1950, then passed to my Dad, and my parents eventually wanted me to have this chalice.

I’ve had several dreams for this chalice.

I hope to set up a scholarship for a seminarian from Chicago at the Pontifical North American College in Rome and will arrange to have this chalice given to a seminarian from Chicago – so that, after many decades, the chalice makes a “round trip,” returning from whence it came.

My biggest dream was to have Pope emeritus Benedict XVI celebrate Mass with this chalice.

Since I wrote this story for the first time a few years ago, that dream has come true.

At 7:30 a.m. on the morning of October 19, 2013, I attended Mass in the chapel of the monastery where Pope emeritus Benedict XVI lives in retirement with Abp. Georg Gaenswein and four memores or consecrated women.

Benedict XVI said Mass with Fr. Toohey’s chalice, Abp. Gaenswein did the readings. It was beautiful and intimate and very moving for me, a morning that was special beyond telling! The Pope emeritus came from the sacristy after Mass and we spoke for about five  or six minutes – it was as moving and wonderful as the Mass itself!

Benedict XVI’s first words to me, said with a big smile, were: “What a beautiful story that chalice has.”

I had written the story down in English and had given it one day to my friend Michael Hesemann who knew I had hopes that Benedict would celebrate Mass with the chalice. He translated it into German and, during a trip to Regensburg, Germany, gave it to his friend, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger, the Pope’s brother who, two weeks later, gave it to Pope emeritus Benedict.

I received a phone call, telling me that Pope emeritus Benedict would be delighted to say Mass with this chalice – would I like to be present?!

Following Mass and our brief but ever so memorable conversation, Pope Em. Benedict gave me a rosary and two holy cards for the young man who will receive this chalice some day and he gave me – for myself – a rosary and two holy cards. Abp. Gaenswein handed me an envelope and inside was a note with his crest that stated that Pope Em. Benedict said Mass with this chalice on October 19, 2013.

I have yet to write the final line to this story – the name of the seminarian to whom the chalice will go.

Stay tuned!

P.S. Three hours later I met Pope Francis at a gathering of the Patrons of the Vatican Museums! The singular, joyful, unforgettable Day of two Popes!


Monday morning, April 16, 2012, in the Pauline Chapel, in the presence of members of the College of Cardinals and bishops from his native Bavaria, Pope Benedict celebrated a Mass of thanksgiving to mark his 85th birthday that day and the April 19th anniversary of his election to the papacy.

In his homily he recalled how, on the day he was born and baptized, the liturgy “erected three signposts showing me where the road led and helping me find it”: the feast of St. Bernardette of Lourdes, the feast of St. Benedict Joseph Labre, and Easter Saturday which fell on the very day he was born. He spoke at length of the two saints, and then focused on Holy Saturday.

“Finally there is the Paschal Mystery. On the day I was born, thanks to my parents, I was also reborn with the water of the Spirit. … Biological life is in itself a gift, yet it begs an important question. It becomes a true gift only if, together with that life, we are given a promise stronger than any misfortune that may threaten us, if life is immersed in a power which guarantees that it is a good thing to be a man, and that the person is a benefit whatever the future may bring. In this way rebirth is associated with birth, the certainty that it is good to exist because the promise is greater than the threat. This is what it means to be reborn from water and from the Spirit. … This rebirth is given to us in Baptism, but we must continually grow therein, we must ever and anew allow God to immerse us in His promise, in order to be truly reborn into the great new family of the Lord, which is stronger than all our weaknesses and all the negative powers that threaten us. That is why today is a day of thanksgiving.”

Benedict XVI noted that in 1927, the year he was born, it was still customary on Easter Saturday “to hold the Easter vigil in the morning, followed by the darkness of Easter Saturday without a Hallelujah. This singular paradox, this anticipation of light in a day of darkness, can almost be seen as an image of the history of our own times. On the one hand there is the silence of God and His absence, yet the resurrection of Christ contains an anticipation of God’s ‘yes’. We live in this anticipation, through the silence of God we hear His words, and through the darkness of His absence we glimpse His light.”

The Holy Father then said: “I am in the final stage of my life journey and I do not know what awaits me. However, I do know that the light of God exists, that He rose again, that His light is stronger than all darkness, that the goodness of God is stronger than all the evil in this world. This helps me to continue with confidence. This helps us to continue, and I would like to thank everyone who, through their faith, continually makes me aware of God’s ‘yes’.”




We saw Easter in art with Swiss artist Eugène Burnand’s “Peter and John run to the Tomb at Dawn” and now I give you another gift, Easter in song. Several unforgettable minutes with an angelic 3-year old who gets it – Gethsemane, the Passion, the Resurrection, Jesus’ love for ME! http://youtu.be/ZWIx24J00Wc


Claire Ryann





Three years ago, at an art exhibit at Castel Sant’Angelo entitled Cammino di Pietro (The Path of Peter), I had a very beautiful personal moment when I finally saw one of the paintings I most love in the world, Eugène Burnand’s “Peter and John Run to the Tomb at Dawn.”

Peter and John running to the tomb

It always leaves me breathless! I want to say to Peter and John, “Wait for me!”
Look at those faces – the hope, the uncertainty, expressions that want to believe the resurrection, expressions that say, “Please, Lord, let it be true!”

And their hands – hands that are filled with hope as well.

When I saw this painting for the first time, I felt I knew these Apostles. I was looking at the images of St. Peter and St. John that my mind’s eye had created a long time ago, as child.

Will we look like this someday as we await the Resurrection?!