How many of you remembered to have your throat blessed on yesterday’s feast day of St. Blaise, patron saint of throat illnesses? I’ve done this for most of my life and have even experienced some special blessings while travelling abroad. Last night I went to vespers and Mass at San Giovanni dei Fiorentini and, at the end of Mass, the priest blessed the candles he used to bless our throats and then said a prayer over a basket of bread. After he blessed our throats individually, he distributed the bread among us. A very special evening!

PS. San Giovanni’s nativity scene was still up in a side chapel. In fact, many churches (and families) in Rome follow the tradition of the Christmas season ending on the February 2 feast of the Presentation (as I do in my home – that’s when decorations come down).


My special guest this week and next in the interview segment of “Vatican Insider” is Deacon Brad Easterbrooks. Currently studying at the North American College in Rome, he is looking at a special way to live his future priesthood – the life of a military chaplain! Brad, from San Diego, has a wonderful story to tell about his vocation but you really have to hear about his remarkable pre-seminary years – work at a consulting firm and on political campaigns, law school, then the Navy, work for JAG (remember the TV show “JAG” – Judge Advocate General) and then….. Well, to hear that story, tune in after the News segment!

In his Navy uniform

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: go to and write the name of the guest for whom you are searching in the SEARCH box. Below that, will appear “Vatican Insider” – click on that and the link to that particular episode will appear.






Have you had your throat blessed today?


It looks like Bishop James Johnston of Kansas City-St. Joseph Missouri will soon be dining royally on Dungeness crabs thanks to Arcbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco. The two bishops made a bet before the Super Bowl. If the San Francisco 49ers lost the championship game, the Fisherman’s Wharf treat would go to Missouri. Had the Chiefs lost, Bishop Johnston would have sent steaks from the Kansas City Steak Company to San Francisco. Buon appetito, Bishop Johnston!


I took this photo last Friday from, the steps of the Governorate building in Vatican City. You can only see a bit of the scaffolding on the left side (would be to your right if you are in St. Peter’s Square). I do not yet know if they will cover only part of the dome at a time or if soon we will see the while dome encased in scaffolding. The smaller domes have all been cleaned and they were entirely covered in scaffolding. Both the Fabbrica of St. Peter’s and the Vatican’s technical services will be behind the cleaning and, where needed, restoration of the dome. I believe only the drum part of the dome (the part you see with windows and columns) will be in scaffolding for this work but will try to get details. (have tried but cannot enlarge photo)

I did not know this about the dome: (Designed by Michelangelo, who died before its completion,), Giacomo della Porta and Domenico Fontana brought the dome to completion in 1590, the last year of the reign of Sixtus V. His successor, Gregory XIV, saw Fontana complete the lantern and had an inscription to the honour of Sixtus V placed around its inner opening. The next pope, Clement VIII, had the cross raised into place, an event which took all day, and was accompanied by the ringing of the bells of all the city’s churches. In the arms of the cross are set two lead caskets, one containing a fragment of the True Cross and a relic of St. Andrew and the other containing medallions of the Holy Lamb. In the mid-18th century, cracks appeared in the dome, so four iron chains were installed between the two shells to bind it, like the rings that keep a barrel from bursting. As many as ten chains have been installed at various times, the earliest possibly planned by Michelangelo himself as a precaution, as Brunelleschi did at Florence Cathedral. (wikipedia)


Most of what was a grassy area filled with flower beds in the center of Rome’s Piazza Venezia is now filled with earth movers and other large equipment as the city continues work on the third metro line (metropolitana is Italian for subway). Linea C work started in 2007, although most Romans feel it has been going on since Romulus and Remus and the Caesars! As we rounded Pza. Venezia yesterday, I asked a taxi driver when he thought the subway might finally be finished. His answer: “when the next asteroid strikes the earth!”


The Pope and Fr. Gonzalo Aemilius met in 2006 when then Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Archbishop of Buenos Aires, made contact with him because he had heard of his work with street kids. Gonzalo Aemilius, a Doctor of Theology, replaces Father Fabian Pedacchio, the Argentine priest who worked alongside the Pope from 2013 to 2019, and who returned last December to his post at the Congregation of Bishops. Father Aemilius was born in Montevideo on September 18, 1979 and was ordained a priest on 6 May 2006.

His face may be familiar to many because he is the priest whom the Pope greeted and summoned as part of the crowd gathered outside a Vatican Gate to welcome Pope Francis at the beginning of his pontificate on the morning of March 7, 2013 when he said Mass in the Vatican’s St. Anne’s church. After Mass, Pope Francis introduced Father Aemilius to all those present, asking them to pray for him and for his work with street children. Interviewed by L’Osservatore Romano, Fr. Aemilius said Bergoglio’s ability to integrate different values and channel them in a single direction had struck him deeply: “Experiencing this ability of his was decisive in my life. He taught me to take the best that is in each individual, however different he or she may be from others, and to put it to good use for the good of all.” Fr. Aemilius will accompany Francis’ current personal secretary, Fr. Yoannis Lahzi Gaid. (source: Vatican news)