This page might be a bit light tomorrow as I spend time in the morning and early afternoon recording my weekly Vatican Radio show, “Joan Knows,” and also preparing “Vatican Insider,” my EWTN weekend radio show. Tomorrow afternoon, however, I will be attending a prayer vigil at St. Mary Major for all those who, like myself, will be invested Saturday into the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre. The investiture ceremony and Mass Saturday will take place at St. John Lateran.
Those will be two beautiful, memorable days in my life and I hope to share as much as possible with you. EWTN will be filming the investiture ceremony Saturday and I’ll let you know when you can view some of those images.
EWTN’s News Nightly will feature a brief conversation with me about this honor so tune in tonight or get your Tivo ready!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, POPE FRANCIS!
Did you know that we almost did not have a Pope Francis because of a ship?
In 1927 Mario Bergoglio, the Pope’s father, made a 60-mile trip by horse carriage from his home in Portacomaro, Italy to the port city of Genoa to purchase tickets for a boat trip to Argentina that he had booked earlier for himself and his family.
He sat in the offices of the Navigazione Generale Italian Shipping Company where an agent checked his papers and then told him: “I’m afraid that all the staterooms are booked for the Princess Mafalda.” The future Pope’s father protested, saying he had made reservations months earlier and had not been notified of any changes. The agent, looking at Mario’s papers, said someone made a mistakes, the prices were too low and the Bergoglio cabin in steerage had been booked at a higher price. Mario tried to book a higher class – no luck .It seemed the family dreams of doing well in Argentina like other relatives were shattered.
Back home, Mario Bergoglio, explained things to the family. Two weeks pass. One day Mario comes home, waving a newspaper that he shows to his parents –Pope Francis’ grandparents Giovanni and Rosa – The banner headline read: “PRINCESS MAFALDA SINKS!” There were survivors and most of the dead were from steerage class, the one Mario had originally booked.
Only two years later were the Bergoglios able to leave Italy for Argentina on the ship Giulio Cesare, arriving in Buenos Aires in February, 1929.
On December 17, 1936 Jorge Mario Bergoglio – Pope Francis – was born.
By the way, the real Princess Mafalda of Savoy was captured by the Nazis during World War II for use as a hostage to manipulate her father. She died at Buchenwald concentration camp in 1944. Her full name was Princess Mafalda Maria Elisabetta Anna Romana of Savoy and she was the second daughter of King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy and his wife Elena of Montenegro. The future King Umberto II of Italy was her younger brother.
Pope Francis was serenaded today by members of Italian Catholic Action whom he thanked for their commitment to welcome migrants. They also gave him a cake. (photo news.va)
POPE FRANCIS TO OPEN HOLY DOOR AT HOMELESS SHELTER
(Vatican Radio) Friday, Pope Francis will open a Holy Door at a newly refurbished homeless centre run by the Church near Rome’s main train station. The radio’s Lydia O’Kane went along to see the newly completed project which offers a bed, a meal and ray of hope to hundreds of people every night.
As you arrive at the Holy Door of the Caritas centre for the homeless at Rome’s Termini Station you can’t fail to notice the mosaic logo of the Year of Mercy depicting Jesus the Good Shepherd by Marko Ivan Rupnik. (photo: ANSA, news.va)
The door will be opened by Pope Francis on December 18th and he will also have the chance to see for himself the newly refurbished dormitory and soup kitchen which are named after Caritas Rome founder Don Luigi Di Liegro and Pope Saint John Paul II.
Speaking at the inauguration of the new centre which he described as a place of dignity and welcome, the present Director of Caritas Rome, Monsignor Enrico Feroci quoted the words of Don Luigi who said, “a city in which one man suffers less is a better city”.
Those words are inscribed on the walls of the new pristine soup kitchen which caters for up to 600 homeless people every evening and offers a much needed respite from the streets outside where people can come, for warmth, contact with others, and a good meal.
As I make my way to the hostel itself, I am impressed by how welcoming they have made the 200 bed dormitories, each one with its own signature colour.
It’s taken years of work and co-operation to have both the canteen and hostel ready for Pope Francis’ Jubilee visit as Fulvio Ferrari, the Chief Engineer responsible for the project explains.
“We worked during two years… in the last 6 months, we worked a great deal and for the Jubilee”.
So why does he think Pope Francis chose to open a Holy Door here?
He says it’s because it is putting service at the heart of the Church’s mission. This is a centre that offers hope and help to all who pass through its doors, but here at Termini there is also general agreement that in this Jubilee of Mercy more and more people are increasingly in need of services like these.