Today, August 6, is the beautiful feast of the Transfiguration. One of the most beautiful art works that depict this feast is actually located in two places in the Vatican. Raphael’s stunning oil painting, “The Transfiguration,” is located in the Vatican Museums’ Pinacoteca but the Vatican’s mosaic artists recreated this masterpiece and it is now inside St. Peter’s Basilica, at the end of the left aisle, just outside the mammoth pier that holds the statue of St. Andrew.

Today also marks the 41st anniversary of the death of Pope St. Paul VI in the papal palace of Castelgandolfo. Little did anyone know that day that 1978 would be the year of three Popes! Paul was followed by John Paul I who reigned for barely a month, and then John Paul II whose pontificate lasted just over 26 and half years!

Tomorrow Pope Francis will preside at the first general audience in a little over a month, going to the air-conditioned Paul VI Hall to welcome pilgrims who have requested to be present at this traditional weekly meeting with the pontiff. He has been on a working vacation in the Santa Marta residence since the start of July, making only a few exceptions to the “all audiences are suspended in July” rule for papal vacation time.

It continues to be very hot in Rome (we are to reach 98 in a day or two) and, unless you are walking on the shady side of the street or in an air-conditioned building, you will definitely feel the effects of the heat and humidity. Visitors often arrive 90 minutes or more before the start of a papal audience because of security measures and to spend that amount of time in a sweltering St. Peter’s Square – even in the morning hours – would be a trial for sure.

The audiences are always one of the Vatican events that typically depict the face of the Universal Church with visitors coming from around the world to spend an hour with the Holy Father. Francis delivers his weekly catechesis in Italian and addresses Spanish-speaking pilgrims in their (and his) native language but monsignori from the Secretariat of State assist the Pope as they offer multi-lingual summaries of his catechesis, speaking in French, English, German, Portuguese, Polish and Arabic.


Each week, the general audience is an important moment when people from all over the world have the opportunity to see and hear Pope Francis, as he proposes in a simple manner the fundamental teachings of the Church.
By Vatican News

Pope Francis’ Wednesday general audiences will resume tomorrow, August 7, after the usual summer hiatus in July.

In the six years since his election to the See of Peter, Pope Francis has held 279 general audiences, including both the regular weekly audiences and the special Jubilee audiences held on Saturdays during the Year of Mercy.

Together with his Angelus addresses, delivered on Sundays and Holy Days; and his homilies, both for major feasts and at his daily Mass at the Santa Marta residence, the catechetical lectures delivered at the weekly general audience represent the spiritual heart of Pope Francis’ ordinary Magisterium or teaching office.

Since 2013, in addition to reflections on specific topics such as Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter, Pope Francis has presented 12 cycles of catechesis. The first was a series of talks on the Creed, continuing a cycle begun by his predecessor, Benedict XVI, during the Year of Faith. Pope Francis continued with catechetical series on the Sacraments, the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, the Church, the Family, and the theme of Mercy during the Jubilee Year of Mercy.

Subsequently, he has focused on the topics of Christian Hope, Holy Mass, Baptism, Confirmation, the Ten Commandments, the Our Father, and, most recently, the Acts of the Apostles.

The general audiences also provide an opportunity for the Pope to draw the world’s attention to specific issues, and to launch appeals for various causes.

In the six years of his pontificate, Pope Francis has launched more than 40 appeals for peace in various places around the world. He has appealed for aid to Christians facing persecution, discrimination, and other particular difficulties on more than 20 occasions.

He has made appeals for humanitarian aid following natural disasters, epidemics, and accidents. On about a dozen different occasions, he has specifically appealed for assistance for migrants, workers in difficulty, and the poor of the world; and for efforts to respond to the ongoing environmental crisis.

These encounters, in which the Holy Father is able to meet with people from all over the world, offer Pope Francis an opportunity to carry out a simple, yet profound catechesis on the Christian faith.


Pope Francis tweeted today: Forgiveness sets our hearts free and allows us to start anew.  Forgiveness gives hope. Without forgiveness, the Church is not built up.

I read that tweet and thought about forgiveness just seconds after seeing the story from Nigeria (see below), and I asked myself: if I had been in that church, could I have forgiven those who comitted this barbaric action? I am not totally sure of the answer but I feel it could be ‘no’.  This is why I admire beyond telling those saints who knew how to ask for and offer forgiveness, even whem seemingly impossible, and therefore lived –heroic virtues!  And I am sure there are many saints-in waiting who live heroic virtues today.


August 5 is the annual feast of Our Lady of the Snows and a great time, notwithstanding torrid temperatures,to experience this feast day if you are in Rome.

Here’s the story in a nutshell:  The year was 358 A.D.   John, a Roman patrician, and his wife, unable to have children, had been praying faithfully to the Virgin, asking her to give them a sign as to whom they should leave their enormous patrimony. The night of August 4-5, one of the hottest of the year, Mary appeared to the couple in a dream and asked them to build a church in her honor where snow would fall that night. John and his wife went to tell their friend Pope Liberius of their dream and, to their astonishment, discovered he had had the same dream

The next morning, August 5, Pope Liberius, John and his wife, joined a massive crowd that had gathered at the site of the snowfall on one of Rome’s seven fabled hills, the Esquiline. And so, fulfilling Mary’s wish, Our Lady of the Snows was built – a basilica you know as St. Mary Major!

The feast of Our Lady of the Snows was introduced that year and has been commemorated ever since on August 5 when, during an afternoon Mass, thousands of white flower petals, symbolizing the miraculous snowfall, are released from the basilica’s rooftop, both inside and outside, showering the faithful who have gathered to commemorate that event.

The ceiling panel where the flower petals are released is at the top, almost center, of the screen, as the video starts: https://youtu.be/WMY9Xj0O91

Sunday, August 6 was the feast of the Transfiguration and also marked the 39th anniversary of the death of Blessed Paul VI. Pope Francis commemorated his predecessor by going to his tomb in the grotto area of St. Peter’s Basilica. Bishop Semeraro of Albano celebrated Mass for this occasion. The papal palace of Castelgandolfo is in this diocese and that is where Paul VI died.

At the Angelus Sunday, Pope Francis said “The ascension of the disciples to Mount Tabor leads us to reflect on the importance of detaching ourselves from worldly things, to make our way up a path to contemplate Jesus.” He noted how, “the event of the Lord’s Transfiguration, which the Church celebrates today, “invites us to meet Jesus and to be at the service of our brothers, ,,, It suggests a way to live the holidays because rest and detachment from everyday occupations, can re-energize both body and spirit, deepening the spiritual path.”


(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Monday sent a message of condolences following an attack at a Church in southeastern Nigeria. At least 11 people were killed and 18 others were wounded when gunmen opened fire on worshippers who had gathered early on Sunday at St Philip’s Catholic church in Ozubulu near the city of Onitsha. (photo news.va)

In the message, signed by Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Pope says he is “deeply saddened to learn of the loss of life and injury”. He extends his “heartfelt condolences” to the local bishop and to “all the faithful of the diocese of Nnewi, in particular the families of the deceased and all those affected by this tragedy.”

Police said they believe the attack may have been linked to drug trafficking and was carried out following a feud between local residents and member of the community living outside Nigeria.

Please see below the full text of the message from Pope Francis to the bishop of the diocese of Nnewi in Nigeria

The Right Reverend Hilary Paul Odili Okeke

Bishop of Nnewi

Deeply saddened to learn of the loss of life and injury following the violent attack in Saint Philip’s Catholic Church, Ozubulu, His Holiness Pope Francis extends heartfelt condolences to you and to all the faithful of the Diocese of Nnewi, in particular the families of the deceased and all those affected by this tragedy. Upon the entire Diocese, His Holiness willingly invokes the divine blessings of consolation and strength.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin