OF CARDINALS, CONSISTORIES AND COURTESY VISITS
Following the consistory ceremony Saturday in which the new cardinals were created, the new red hats welcomed family and friends in what are known here as courtesy visits, most of which took place in the Paul VI Hall, with several in the Hall of Blessings in the Apostolic Palace.
The Hall of Blessings or Aula delle Benedizioni is a very grand hall above the atrium of St. Peter’s Basilica – the room behind the five large windows and the central loggia or balcony on the facade of St. Peter’s Basilica.
I have been here many times but the first was the most special. It was March 1961. I was spending an academic year studying French in Fribourg, Switzerland and our spring break was six weeks long, including three in Italy. Our time in Rome included a papal audience with Pope John XXIII who held occasional audiences in the Hall of Blessings. The Paul VI Hall, of course, was only built by John’s successor, Paul, and named for him.
In the atrium of the Paul VI Hall, I met Cardinal McElroy of San Diego who, on Sunday at 5 pm, presided at Mass at St. Patrick’s in Rome, the church for Catholic Americans and English-speaking Catholics. He was joined by American Cardinals Edwin O’Brien, Wilton Gregory, Roger Mahony, Blasé Cupich, Daniel diNardo and Joseph Tobin. Numerous bishops were present as well.
Several of us on the parish council were asked to welcome guests to St. Patrick’s for the Mass, including a very large contingent of Catholics from all parts of California. Of all the cardinals present, the only one I did not know before the weekend was Cardinal McElroy. I have known all of the American cardinals now in Rome for the consistory for many years. (Cardinal McElroy celebrates Mass of Thanksgiving in Rome | Catholic News Agency)
Saturday at the courtesy visits, I had some fascinating encounters with a number of cardinals and I wanted to bring those stories to you today, along with photos. However, recently I’ve had huge problems uploading photos to my laptop and do not know if it is the fault of the laptop or my phone. I’ll bring you that report tomorrow.
THE PAPAL DAY IN L’AQUILA: HOPE AND HUMILITY, RUINS AND RELICS
Sunday, Pope Francis went to L’Aquila in central Italy to preside at Mass and open the Holy Door of Santa Maria di Collemaggio basilica for the 728th edition of the Celestine Pardon, an annual August celebration that dates to Pope Celestine V who is buried in this church. One of the final acts in his 5-month papacy was to issue an edict stating that Popes could resign. And Celestine did so promptly upon publishing this edict in December 1294.
Pope opens Holy Door (EWTN-CNA image Daniel Ibanez)
Forward a bit: 719 years later Benedict XVI resigned, having prayed at Celestine’s tomb in 2009 after the L’Aquila earthquake, leaving his pallium atop the tomb. In some of the most moving moments of his visit to L’Aquila, Francis also prayed for some time Sunday before his predecessor’s tomb.
Earlier at Mass, in his homily, Pope Francis recounted off the cuff how that morning, the helicopter pilot could not land the plane as planned due to fog and that, after circling many times, he “finally found a small opening in the fog” and landed. Remarking on that incident, Francis suggested that even when fog seems to shroud our lives, God will find a hole, an opening.
I found the Holy Father’s homily beautiful but also intriguing (as you will see below), especially his remarks on Pope Celestine’s resigning the papacy, an act that Francis called “one of humility.”
Is that something to think about? If the Pope resigns, is that an act of humility? And if he does not resign?
POPE IN L’AQUILA: “FAITH ILLUMINATES PAIN AND DRIVES EFFORT TO REBUILD”: Pope Francis travelled 100 kilometers to the central Italian city of L’Aquila 13 years after a devastating earthquake killed 309 people, and he encouraged residents to continue rebuilding their lives with faith in God. He kicked off his pastoral visit by meeting civil authorities and families of the victims of the 2009 earthquake, which struck in the middle of the night on April 6, 2009. Around 66,000 people were left homeless and 309 people were killed in the wake of the quake and subsequent tremors. On Sunday, Pope Francis followed in the footsteps of his predecessor, Benedict XVI, who made a visit less than a month after the earthquake, on 28 April 2009. The Pope also visited the ruins of the Cathedral of St. Maximus, which was partially destroyed by the 6.3-magnitude earthquake. (Pope in L’Aquila: ‘Faith illuminates pain and drives effort to rebuild’ – Vatican News
POPE FRANCIS AT MASS: During Mass in the central Italian city of L’Aquila for the occasion of the “Celestinian Pardon,” Pope Francis recalled God’s power to accomplish all things, along with the courageous witness, often misunderstood, of Pope Celestine V who resigned in 1294. Noting that he celebrates Mass on “a special day,” that of “the Celestinian Pardon,” the Holy Father explained that the relics of Pope Celestine V… are preserved in L’Aquila. He said that Pope Celestine “humbled himself,” finding favour with God. “We erroneously remember Celestine V as he ‘who made a great refusal’, according to the expression Dante used in his Divine Comedy. But Celestine V was not a man who said ‘no’, but a man who said ‘yes’.” In fact, the Pope noted, there is no other way to accomplish God’s will, than to assume the strength of the humble. (Pope at Mass in L’Aquila: ‘God can accomplish all things’ – Vatican News)