My guests this weekend in the interview segment of Vatican Insider are Nadine Bargnes and Dawn Iacono of St. Gregory the Great Parish in Amherst, New York where, over 15 years ago they founded MOMS, the Ministry of Mothers Sharing. Nadine and Dawn, former volunteers in Rome for the Jubilee Year of Mercy, returned to the Eternal City with 24 Catholic MOMS from the diocese. Msgr. Robert E. Zapfel, who studied and lived in Rome and is pastor of St. Leo the Great Parish in Amherst, was the spiritual guide for the group. They have a fascinating story to tell – and wait till you hear what they did the last full day of their pilgrimage in Rome. (Nadine L, Dawn R)

The entire pilgrimage was formed around MOMS and moms (lower case) – not only daily Mass and the practice each day of a virtue associated with motherhood (faith and joy, sacrifice and suffering, chastity and purity, courage, justice, fortitude and charity) but visits to churches and shrines dedicated to saints who were also mothers.

You will learn all about MOMS as a ministry, and Dawn and Nadine are only too happy to have you contact them if you wish MOMS in your parish. St. Gregory the Great is not the only parish to have this ministry but it began there. Please write me for their email addresses.

And look at this magnificent shawl! Blue, of course, for Mary, the Blessed Mother! Catherine Wadhams, one of the MOMS on pilgrimage, made one for every member of the pilgrimage and threw in two extras – one for Joan Lewis and a white one for Pope Francis. They talk about that in our conversation!

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Our wonderful Msgr. Anthony Figueiredo, whose commentary your hear ever Wednesday for the weekly papal audience on EWTN, says Mass Friday mornings at 8:45 in St. Peter’s Basilica for our Rome staff Mass is traditionally celebrated at the altar of the tomb of St. John XXIII but we’ve been elsewhere in these days his remains have been on pilgrimage in and around his native Bergamo, Italy. I understand St. John will be back this Sunday!

Today, the feast of the Sacred Heart, Msgr. Anthony celebrated Mass at the Sacred Heart of Jesus altar. Only two of us were present and, as you can see in one photo, I did a reading and the Responsorial Psalm. At the start of Mass, Msgr. lists all those for whom we were asked to pray and during Mass gives a wonderful homily, both times mentioning that prayers on this feast day are also always for the sanctification of priests.

Today he explained the beautiful mosaic you see in these photos (yes, mosaic! FYI, I have been told that there is only one painting in St. Peter’s Basilica – what you think are paintings are mosaics!) that depicts Jesus and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque who lived from 1647 to 1690. She was French, a Visitation nun and a mystic and passionately promoted devotion to the Sacred Heart.

I remember especially Msgr. Anthony’s words about Jesus’ Sacred Heart being so big that it has room for every single last one of us, His love is unsurpassable and forever, and His mercy is greater than any sin. My paraphrasing will not do justice to his words.

After Mass, as we walked back to the sacristy, I said, “the best part of the day had just ended!”


It’s once again a quiet day at the Vatican but things will surely change in coming days as Pope Francis nears the end of his working vacation at the Santa Marta residence. He has, of course, appeared in the window of his study in the Apostolic Palace on Sundays for the Angelus, and will resume the weekly general audience on Wednesday, August 2, in the Paul VI Hall. The weather here has been exceedingly hot, although today and yesterday were rather reasonable with temps in the mid-80s to 90s. Those temps are doubtless the reason for holding the general audience inside.

The U.S has been having its own problems with heat waves and fires in many parts of the country but Italy has been suffering in many ways that are almost historical in nature, with both fires and severe drought.

The drought, brought about by some of the driest weather to affect Italy in 60 years, has left rainfall totals 80% below normal. Rome has had only 26 rainy days in this year’s first six months of this year, compared to 88 in the first half of 2016. Water rationing is still a possibility and could last as long as eight hours daily in alternating neighborhoods.

Rome’s celebrated Trevi Fountain risks running dry, as do other fountains in the Eternal City. We’ve already seen that the Vatican has chosen to turn off its fountains in St. Peter’s Square as well as inside Vatican City State.

One news source reported that Farmers’ lobby Coldiretti last week estimated 2 billion euros ($2.3 billion) worth of damage so far to Italian agriculture due to the crisis. Among those suffering are farmers growing canning tomatoes in the southeastern region of Puglia, wine grapes throughout much of Italy and those cultivating olives — all signature crops for the nation.


(ANSA) – Rome, July 25 – Mariella Enoc, president of Rome’s Bambino Gesù children’s hospital, said Tuesday that Charlie Gard’s therapy would not have been suspended if he had been at the Vatican-owned structure.

“I don’t know why the English hospital decided to suspend the child’s treatments,” Enoc told a news conference. “I know that here with us this would not have happened… I don’t know if it would have been possible to save Charlie, but I do know that lots of time was wasted in legal debates that served for nothing.”

On Monday the parents of the terminally ill British 11-month-old gave up their legal battle to have their son treated abroad. Earlier in July, UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson told Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano that legal reasons prevented Britain from allowing the family to take up an offer from Bambino Gesu’ hospital to try to cure the child.

The hospital had offered to help Gard’s mother Connie Yates and her husband Chris Gard after Pope Francis said treatment should be provided “until the end.” “The experimental therapy could have been an opportunity for Charlie Gard but it came too late,” said Bambino Gesù expert Professor Enrico Silvio Bertini.

“Unfortunately, it has emerged that it is impossible to start the experimental therapeutic plan in the light of the clinical evaluation… because of the seriously compromised condition of little Charlie’s muscle tissue,” said Bertini, the head of Bambino Gesù’s muscular and neurodegenerative illnesses department. (ANSA, a national Italian news agency)


Christians have devoted themselves to the veneration of Jesus’ Sacred Heart for centuries! While many saints have claimed to have had private revelations about Jesus’ Sacred Heart, the modern Catholic devotion is based primarily on the visions of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque in the 17th century. (As with all private revelations, Catholics are not obliged to believe them).

Following are the 12 promises privately revealed to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque by Jesus for those who practice devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus:

1) I will give them all the graces necessary in their state of life.
2) I will establish peace in their homes.
3) I will comfort them in all their afflictions.
4) I will be their secure refuge during life, and above all, in death.
5) I will bestow abundant blessings upon all their undertakings.
6) Sinners will find in my Heart the source and infinite ocean of mercy.
7) Lukewarm souls shall become fervent.
8) Fervent souls shall quickly mount to high perfection.
9) I will bless every place in which an image of my Heart is exposed and honored.
10) I will give to priests the gift of touching the most hardened hearts.
11) Those who shall promote this devotion shall have their names written in my Heart.
12) I promise you in the excessive mercy of my Heart that my all-powerful love will grant to all those who receive Holy Communion on the First Fridays in nine consecutive months the grace of final perseverance; they shall not die in my disgrace, nor without receiving their sacraments. My divine Heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment.

Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us!
(Source: ChurchPOP)