There was a exceptional moment today at the Holy House of Loreto. As I have been doing daily, I joined the recitation of the rosary inside the Holy House in the presence of the papal delegate for the shrine, Archbishop Fabio Dal Cin and several priests of the shrine who pray the decades of the rosary in Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, French and English.

The historical statue of Our Lady of Loreto was present today without her colorful robe, the way all pilgrims usually see her. I took these photos from the television.


Just a note today – have tried to make this a quiet Holy Saturday, a day in which I tried to find time to think through how I have experienced the Triduum.

We are in the splendid isolation of our homes instead of participating in the liturgies of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and today, Holy Saturday, in our parishes with family members and close friends. The Triduum, as we know, is composed of the three solemn, sad days that lead up to the most glorious day on the calendar, the Resurrection!

How hard it will be not to celebrate publicly tomorrow, to be with family and friends, to greet and thank our pastor for all the well-prepared liturgies of days past! We will miss the beauty of Easter Mass of the Resurrection, the beautifully decorated sanctuaries, the happy faces of those who, like us, survived Lent and who, after Mass, will go home to a happy family brunch and perhaps, if there are young ones, an Easter egg hunt!

That has been put on hold by an invisible force stronger than our will power or heartfelt desires. The virus is like the wind – you can’t see it but you see its powerful, devastating results.

This unwanted period of quarantine is undoubtedly teaching us many lessons about ourselves and surely has given us more time for introspection, for thinking about what – about who – is really meaningful in our lives. We will have learned – are learning – life is not about possession but relationships, about family, about spending time with those we love, about transmitting (and receiving) values.

I think we will look back and realize that perhaps we have taken our faith for granted sometimes, just as we may have taken family members and friends for granted.

Losing the possibility to congregate in church for Mass and above all to receive the Eucharist, made us realize how we took it for granted that we were free to go to Mass. These days and weeks will have been a life-changing time, but so will all the chances we had online to go to Mass, to participate in dozens of liturgies and rosaries and prayer services, if we so chose!

In all that I have done online in the past days, two moments stand out: an hour with relics of the Crown of Thorns in Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris and last night’s Via Crucis with Pope Francis, his master of liturgical ceremonies and those who carried the cross in the St. Peter’s Square.

I do not recall ever being so moved as I was during the hour at Notre Dame – the magnificently read meditations, the glorious strains of the violinist and his music and the angelic voice by the young lady who sang as well as read meditations. It has a special place forever in my heart and soul. And that solitary crown with relics of the terrifying thorns that encased the head of Our Savior two millennia ago.

And the Via Crucis, not at the Colosseum as is traditional but in the desolate immensity and splendor and, yes, solitude, of St. Peter’s Square, a square that seemed to reflect the immense desolation of the world today.

All of these are moments that cannot but change us, cannot but make us think and meditate and pray.

And to remember the words of the preacher of the papal household, Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa at the Passion yesterday afternoon: “We should not revert to that prior time when this moment has passed. As the Holy Father has exhorted us, we should not waste this opportunity. Let us not allow so much pain, so many deaths, and so much heroic engagement on the part of health workers to have been in vain. Returning to the way things were is the “recession” we should fear the most. … “After three days I will rise”, Jesus had foretold. We too, after these days that we hope will be short, shall rise and come out of the tombs of our homes. Not however to return to the former life like Lazarus, but to a new life, like Jesus. A more fraternal, more human, more Christian life!

Well, I just re-read this! I guess it is more than “just a note today!”



Pope Francis on Thursday met participants of the Fifth International Course of Formation of Catholic Military Chaplains on International Humanitarian Law. He tells them to spare no effort to make sure the norms of international humanitarian law are accepted in the hearts of those entrusted to their pastoral care.

Greeting the participants of this week’s formation course entitled, “The Loss of Personal Freedom in the Context of Armed Conflicts: The Mission of the Military Chaplain,” Pope Francis began by reiterating the need “to reject the temptation of viewing the other as merely an enemy to be destroyed, and not as a person endowed with intrinsic dignity, created by God in his image.”

The violation of rights
He added that, “often, persons detained in the context of armed conflicts are victims of violations of their fundamental rights.”

How many civilians, the Pope said, “have been kidnapped, forcibly disappeared and killed. Among these, we can count numerous men and women religious of whom we hear nothing more…”

Pope Francis pointed out that “respect for the dignity and physical integrity of the human person, in fact, cannot depend upon the actions they have done, but is a moral duty to which every person and every authority is called.”

During his address, the Pontiff encouraged the ordinaries and military chaplains present, to spare no effort to make sure the norms of international humanitarian law are accepted in the hearts of those entrusted to their pastoral care.

Educational commitment
The Pope stressed in particular the need for “an educational effort alongside that of families and Christian communities.” He further described how this “involves instilling the values of friendship, understanding, tolerance, goodness, and respect for all persons.” He also said, it meant, “forming young people who are sensitive to other cultures and their richness and committed to a global citizenship, in order to promote the growth of the one great human family.”

Geneva Convention
Concluding his address, Pope Francis highlighted the 70th anniversary of the signing of the Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War.

He said that on this 70th anniversary, he wanted to “reaffirm the importance the Holy See gives to international humanitarian law and to express the hope that its norms will be respected in every circumstance. …The latter should be further clarified and reinforced where appropriate, especially with regard to non-international armed conflicts, and in particular with regard to the protection of persons deprived of freedom because of these conflicts.” (Vatican News)


The following decree was issued today by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of Sacraments:

DECREE on the celebration of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Loreto to be inscribed in the General Roman Calendar

Since the Middle Ages veneration for the Holy House of Loreto has been the origin of that particular shrine which still today is visited by many faithful pilgrims in order to nourish their faith in the Word of God made flesh for us.

This shrine recalls the mystery of the Incarnation, leading all those who visit it to consider “the fullness of time”, when God sent his Son, born of a woman, as well as to meditate both on the words of the Angel announcing the Good News and on the words of the Virgin in response to the divine call. Overshadowed by the Spirit, the humble handmaid of the Lord so became the dwelling place of divinity, the purist image of the holy Church.

Closely bound to the Apostolic See this shrine, praised by Popes and known throughout the world, has, over the years and no less than Nazareth in the Holy Land, been able to illustrate powerfully the evangelical virtues of the Holy Family.

In the Holy House, before the image of the Mother of the Redeemer and of the Church, Saints and Blesseds have responded to their vocation, the sick have invoked consolation in suffering, the people of God have begun to praise and plead with Mary using the Litany of Loreto, which is known throughout the world. In a particular way all those who travel via aircraft have found in her their heavenly patron.

In light of this, Pope Francis has decreed, by his own authority, that the optional memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Loreto should be inscribed in the Roman Calendar on 10 December, the day on which the feast falls in Loreto, and celebrated every year. This celebration will help all people, especially families, youth and religious to imitate the virtues of that perfect disciple of the Gospel, the Virgin Mother, who, in conceiving the Head of the Church also accepted us as her own.

Therefore the new memorial must appear in all Calendars and Liturgical Books for the celebration of Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours; the relative texts are attached to this decree and their translations, approved by the Episcopal Conferences, will be published after confirmation by this Dicastery.

Anything to the contrary nothwithstanding.

From the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, 7 October 2019, the memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Rosary.

Robert Card. Sarah, Prefect – +Arthur Roche Archbishop, Secretary