It is Flag Day in America and I hope and pray every home has one flag flying from its roof or a flagpole or displayed inside a window! June 14 for decades was a big day in our family and in the entire neighborhood where I grew up in Oak Park, Illinois, a day everyone indeed hung a flag!. I pray that the stars and Stripes are still important and meaningful for my fellow Americans!


In this week’s Vatican Insider, I present Part II of my special “Who is the Man of the Shroud?” – the Shroud being the cloth that is said to have wrapped Christ’s body in the tomb until his Resurrection. A story of science and faith…..

IN THE UNITED STATES, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (stations listed at or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio, or on OUTSIDE THE U.S., you can listen to EWTN radio on our website home page by clicking on the right side where you see “LISTEN TO EWTN.” VI airs at 5am and 9pm ET on Saturdays and 6am ET on Sundays. On the GB-IE feed (which is on SKY in the UK and Ireland), VI airs at 5:30am, 12 noon and 10pm CET on Sundays. Both of these feeds are also available on the EWTN app and on ALWAYS CHECK YOUR OWN TIME ZONE! For VI archives: (write Vatican Insider where it says Search Shows and Episodes)


There are a ton of new rules for tourists in the Eternal City and it would definitely behoove people to be informed. So read the story about the updated regulations (some went back to 1946!) and have some peace of mind. You don’t want Italians to give you a piece of their mind if you misbehave!

Here’s a great piece by Lonely Planet (you probably have a slew of their guidebooks if you travel a lot).

I did have to look up the word busk, which means is to perform music or other entertainment in the street or another public place for monetary donations.

The Independent online also reports that, “ticket touts selling ‘skip the line’ tickets at some of the Eternal City’s biggest attractions, such as the Vatican Museums and Colosseum, are prohibited, as are those who dress up as Roman centurions around tourist hotspots and charge money for photos.”

(JFL: if they succeed in banning these touts, it would be a miracle – there are probably 40 or more at anyone time outside the colonnades of St. Peter’s Square! Often, as I walk over to Pio XII Square to film segments for EWTN, I will pass – or be “touted: by – two dozen of these guys. They drive most tourists crazy. To skip the line at the Vatican Museums, folks, just go to the official webpage and reserve a day and time!!)

In its story on the new rules, the online newspaper added that “some offences may just attract a slap on the wrist from police patrolling attractions, while others will incur a fine or a ban from the area where the offence took place.

Virginia Raggi, the mayor of Rome, told The Telegraph: “Rome is, and always will be, welcoming, but that does not mean tolerating bad behaviour and damage being done to our city.“

She said she would be writing to foreign embassies, asking them to make citizens aware of the new rules when visiting the city.



Last evening, just before 10:30, the Holy See Press Office released the following statement:

“During some restoration work in a space annexed to the Apostolic Nunciature in Italy, in Via Po 27 in Rome, some human bone fragments were found.

“The Vatican’s Gendarmerie promptly intervened on the site, informing their Holy See superiors that they immediately informed the Italian authorities for the appropriate investigations and the necessary collaboration in the affair.

“At present the Chief Prosecutor of Rome, Dr. Giuseppe Pignatone, has delegated the scientific police and the mobile squad of the Rome’s police headquarters in order to establish the age, sex and date of death of the bones found.”( ANSA photo)

Villa Giorgina, sede della Nunziatura apostolica a Roma, 31 ottobre 2018. ANSA/FABIO FRUSTACI

It is rather unusual, almost unheard of, in fact, for the Vatican to release a statement at that hour.

Media here immediately surmised that the bones – found on Monday – might be those of Emanuela Orlandi, the 15-year-old daughter of a Vatican employee who went missing in 1983, or of Mirella Gregori, another minor who disappeared that same year.

Investigators will be comparing the cranium and teeth with DNA of the two girls in their possession.

Orlandi’s disappearance has been one of Italy’s biggest mysteries for the past 35 years. There have been as many theories as to why she disappeared – or was kidnapped – as there are Agatha Christie novels.

Emanuela’s father worked for IOR, the Institute for Works of Religion, commonly known as the Vatican bank. The family lived inside Vatican City.

The Orlandi family, Vatican officials, including the gendarmes and Rome police have followed every lead that came to them over the years, including numerous reports of sightings of Emanuela, both in Italy and abroad.

If the remains prove to be those of Orlandi (and/or Gregori), the bigger question is then: How did they get there?


The following is from one of the emails I receive on occasion from Bob Moynihan of Inside the Vatican Magazine. I felt it depicted summer in Rome, especially the hot and heady ‘dog days’ of summer, with a bull’s eye precision. If you are reading this in Rome, you’ll understand every word.  If you are not in Italy, you might want to wait till September! With Bob’s kind permission I offer you this page from his Journal.
August 5, 2017, Saturday
Dog days
In these days in Rome, the heat is infernal.
And the Italians are saying so.
A headline here reads: “Lucifero non ha fretta, l’Italia è un inferno.” (link)
Meaning: “Lucifer is not in a hurry, Italy is an inferno.”
(Here, a Roman centurion crossing the road despite the heat, with the Colosseum in the distance. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP)
The report goes on: “Lucifero non ha fretta di andare in ferie. Resterà a tenerci compagnia con le due lingue di fuoco almeno fino al fine settimana.”
Meaning: “Lucifer isn’t in a hurry to take a vacation. He will remain to keep us company with the two tongues of flame at least until the end of the week.”
And also this: “A ferragosto sono attese temperature infernali.”
Meaning: “On August 15, infernal temperatures are expected.”
So it seems likely that this will continue a bit longer…
Today at midday in Rome it was 40 degrees Celsius — 104 degrees Fahrenheit.
There was hardly a flicker of a breeze, perhaps 2 miles an hour every so often.
And, though it seems quite dry for Rome, the humidity here is still about 25 percent.
That’s the problem with Rome — not so much the heat, but the humidity.
In fact, one report says “humidity and other factors are making it feel much hotter with the so-called ‘perceived’ temperature in Campania, the region around Naples, estimated at a broiling 55°C (131°F) on Friday.” (link)
That’s what it says: 131 degrees… Of course, that’s just “perceived” temperature.
But it’s still pretty hot, if you are the perceiver….
It is so hot that you feel you are inside a pizza oven when you are out in the sun.
It is so hot that, as you walk, you look right and left for any shady spot, under a colonnade, by the walls of any building, under cafe awnings, anywhere there s a bit of shade, rather than stay in the sunlight.
Anything for a bit of relief from the sun’s pounding bright rays.
Still there are pilgrims, God bless them, many of them seemingly Chinese, gathering by the doors of the Vatican museums, walking up the long walls, braving the heat of the day in order to see the treasures.
But many old people and shut-ins are in trouble. In Milan, there has been a spike in calls from old people as thousands have called for medical assistance.
Animals and crops are also in trouble. Cows are producing 20 percent less milk. And Italy’s olive and grape harvests this fall are expected to be down by a similar amount due to the heat and dryness. The water level in Lake Garda in the north is almost one-third below capacity.
Patrick Browne, a writer for TheLocal website, has written an account of how the ancient Romans dealt with the heat (link).
“The Romans were no strangers to the summer heat,” Browne writes. “In fact, the modern term: ‘the dog days of summer”’ actually comes from the Latin ‘dies canincula,’ the Roman term used to describe the stuffy, hot period of weather between July and mid-August.
“The name comes from the fact that Sirius (the dog star) rises with the sun at this time of year. Romans thought this was the reason for the increase in temperature.
“While they may not have been experts in meteorology, the Romans did know a few practical ways of coping in a heatwave — so what advice can they give us?”
The account below to the end is by Patrick Browne (
1. Go to the Frigidarium
(An ancient Roman Frigidarium. Photo: Carole Raddato/Flickr)
The frigidarium was a large cold pool at the Roman baths where Romans went to cool down… The waters of the frigidarium were kept chilly in the summer months thanks to the addition of snow and ice that had been imported from the Alps.
2. Leave work early
(When in Rome…leave work early. Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP)
The Ancient Romans did not do a nine-to-five day.
In fact, the average Roman only had a six-hour workday, toiling from sunrise until noon.
This stopped them from having to labour during the hottest part of the day and left them with plenty of time to go to and sit in the frigidarium with their friends…
3. Eat snow
(Granita – a delicious way to keep cool. Photo: Alt Altendord/Flickr)
Before the gelato was invented, Romans hoping for a cool snack had to use what nature offered them.
While the rich patricians and Roman nobility would often have huge stores of imported snow at home to keep them cool, citizens had to visit the snow shop.
There, mountain ice was kept in underground pits and could sell for more money than wine…
4. Turn on the air conditioning
Air conditioning in ancient Rome? Yep. The Romans were master architects and kept their homes cool during the summer months by employing a series of architectural tricks that provided ancient forms of air conditioning.
For example, some rich residents pumped cold water through the walls of their homes to freshen their dwellings during the summer months.
Obviously, this was only for a select few and the average Roman homes, or insulae, were probably very stuffy indeed…
5. Leave the city
(Villa Adriana in Tivoli near Rome. Photo: santirf/Depositphotos)
Many wealthy Romans escaped the heat of the summer months by going to their country houses in the hills outside Rome.
With its restricted airflow, and masses of heat-storing marble, Ancient Rome was a furnace in summer and the city’s wealthy patricians were fully aware of                                what is known today as the “urban heat island effect,” meaning cities often feel hotter than they are.
Urban centres are one to three degrees Celsius hotter during the day than the surrounding countryside, while at night the difference can be as much as 12C.
That’s the difference between a good night’s sleep and a sweaty night spent tossing and turning.