January 24 is the feast day of St. Francis de Sales, patron of journalists. The communications office of the diocese of Rome traditionally celebrates the liturgical memory of the saint with a Mass for members of the media at Santa Maria in Montesanto, one of the so-called “twin churches” on Rome’s famed Piazza del Popolo.

This basilica (featured on the left) is also known to Romans as “the church of artists” because, for the last 70 years on Sundays a Mass is celebrated that usually involves people from the world of culture and art. The basilica on the right is Santa Maria dei Miracoli.

Archbishop Rino Fisichella, pro-prefect of the Dicastery for Evangelization, presided at today’s Mass, and delivered the homily to a packed church.

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Though cold, it was such a lovely, sunny day that, after so much rain, I decided to do something extravagant (and usually not on my agenda on a work day!) and have lunch outdoors at Rosati’s, one of the two high end café/restaurants on Pza. del Popolo.

A table with a view…

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What I try to do every day I live in Rome!

(Vatican News provided a summary of Pope Francis’ Message for the 57th World Day of Social Communications to take place on May 21, 2023, The papal message is traditionally released on the feast of St. Francis de Sales. The theme this year is “Speaking with the heart. ‘The truth in love’” (Eph 4:15): : Pope: Communicating with the heart can curb escalation of war – Vatican News


In his Apostolic Letter, The Holy Father quotes St. Francis de Sales innumerable times but this one sounds like it could be for us today: “Towards the end of his life, this is how he saw his time: “The world is becoming so delicate that, in a little while, no one will dare any longer to touch it except with velvet gloves, or tend its wounds except with perfumed bandages; yet what does it matter, if only men and women are healed and finally saved?  Charity, our queen, does everything for her children.”


Pope Francis at the end of the general audience: “I would like to ask you all for a special prayer for Pope Emeritus Benedict, who is supporting the Church in silence. Remember him – he is very ill – asking the Lord to console him and to sustain him in this witness of love for the Church, until the end.”

Holy See Press Office Director Matteo Bruni issued the following communique this morning: “Regarding the health conditions of the Pope Emeritus, for whom Pope Francis asked for prayers at the end of this morning’s general audience, I can confirm that in the last few hours there has been an aggravation due to advancing age. The situation at the moment remains under control, followed constantly by the doctors. At the end of the general audience, Pope Francis went to the Mater Ecclesiae monastery to visit Benedict XVI. We join him in praying for the Pope Emeritus.” (Vatican photo)


During the general audience today in the Paul VI Hall, Pope Francis reflected on the birth of Christ as seen in some of the thoughts of St. Francis de Sales who died 400 years ago today. He also announced that he had written an Apostolic Letter on the saintly patron of journalists, ‘Totum amoris est’ (‘Everything Pertains to Love’), that the Vatican published today.

“In this Christmas season,” began the Holy Father, our reflections on Jesus’ birth can be enhanced by some thoughts of the great Doctor of the Church, Saint Francis de Sales. Today, on the fourth centenary of his death, I have published a new Apostolic Letter to recall some of the richness of his teaching.

“For Francis de Sales,” continued the Pope, “the mystery of Christmas directs our gaze to the poverty and simplicity of the manger as the sign of Christ’s true identity as God among us. God, who knows our weaknesses, our sins and our hardness of heart, chose to draw us to himself by bonds of love, coming into our world as a newborn child. The birth of Jesus thus reveals God’s utterly free, gracious and indeed ‘disarming’ love.”

“We see this mystery concretely in the focal point of the crib, namely in the Child lying in a manger. This is ‘the sign’ that God gives us at Christmas: it was at the time for the shepherds in Bethlehem (cf. Lk 2:12), it is today, and it will always be so. When the angels announce the birth of Jesus, [they say,] ‘Go and you will find Him’; and the sign is: You will find a child in a manger. That is the sign. The throne of Jesus is the manger or the street, during His life, preaching; or the Cross at the end of His life. This is the throne of our King.”

“This sign, continues Pope Francis, “shows us the “style’ of God. And what is the style of God? Don’t forget, never forget: the style of God is closeness, compassion, and tenderness. Our God is close, compassionate, and tender. This style of God is seen in Jesus. With this style of His, God draws us to Himself. He does not take us by force. He does not impose His truth and justice on us. He does not proselytize us, no! He wants to draw us with love, with tenderness, with compassion.”

The Pope underscored how “Saint Francis teaches us to welcome the Lord into our hearts by joyfully imitating his detachment from worldly wealth and power, and, like the infant Jesus, by learning ‘to desire nothing and to refuse nothing, to accept everything that God sends us’, with complete confidence in his loving providence.”

In conclusion, the Holy Father said, “May the lowly manger of Bethlehem inspire us to imitate that boundless love of God, made flesh in the Child of Bethlehem, the Savior of the world.”

Click here to read a summary of Totum Amoris est: Pope: St. Francis de Sales was ‘great reader of Signs of the Times’ – Vatican News

Click here for entire Apostolic Letter: Apostolic Letter <i>Totum amoris est</i> of the Holy Father Francis on the Fourth Centenary of the Death of Saint Francis de Sales – Activities of the Holy Father Pope Francis | Vatican.va



I had the great joy of attending Mass this morning for the media celebrated by the cardinal vicar of Rome on the feast day of our patron saint, St. Francis de Sales. From what I could see and hear, it was predominantly Italian Catholic media. One of my friends in the vicariate is Msgr. Walter Insero, head of diocesan communications. I shared a fun story with him about a man we both knew, the late Cardinal John Foley.

Cardinal John Foley was one of the best Catholic communicators ever, as well as a friend. I remember one speech he gave about Francis de Sales in which he said he and the saint had 3 things in common – both were bishops, both writers and both bald!  Humor was always a hallmark of his!

I was going to ask Msgr. Walter to send me the cardinal’s homily but L’Osservatore Romano published a summary of his words directed specifically to the media which I have used here.


Addressing members of the media at a Mass this morning, feast of St. Francis de Sales, patron of writers and journalists, Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, vicar for the diocese of Rome, said, “Dear journalists and communicators, I encourage you to live your profession as a vocation at the service of truth, without tiring.” He spoke at Mass in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Montesanto, also known as Santa Maria degli Artisti (St. Mary of Artists), in Rome’s Piazza del Popolo. This year marks the 4th centenary of the death of St. Francis.

The cardinal thanked the media “for the commitment, courage and generosity shown in the harshest periods of the pandemic, guaranteeing information service.” He exhorted them with the words of Pope Francis in his 2021 Message for the 55th Day of Social Communications, to cultivate “a curiosity, an openness and a passion” that leads to “wearing out the soles of shoes.”

Pope Francis’ Message for the Day of Social Communications is always released on the January 24 feast of St. Francis. His 2022 Message, released today, can be found here: Pope’s Communications Day message: ‘Listening is essential for dialogue’ – Vatican News

The cardinal vicar then invited journalists to take part in the synodal journey as members of the Church of Rome, supporting it “by intercepting the voices, stories and experiences of people we might risk not reaching. In this sense, parish collaboration in helping to read the reality of the various districts of the capital is precious. In moments of fatigue and discouragement due to the difficulties and complexity of the work, may this truth be consoled by the patron saint Francis de Sales: ‘It is not the greatness of our actions that will please God, but the ‘love with which we accomplish them’.”

Piazza del Popolo –