VATICAN INSIDER OFFERS A TRIVIAL PURSUIT WEEKEND – CARDINAL PAROLIN IN BEIRUT: ENTIRE CHURCH STANDS IN SOLIDARITY WITH LEBANON

Link to weekly edition of L’Osservatore Romano in English:

https://www.osservatoreromano.va/en/pdfreader.html/ing/2020/09/ING_2020_036_0409.pdf.html?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=NewsletterOR-EN

Today is the day of prayer and fasting that Pope Francis urged us to make for the Country of Lebanon and the city of Beirut that, as you know, still suffers enormously from an explosion that occurred at the seaport a month ago. Francis sent Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin to Beirut to show his love and closeness and support of the Lebanese people, especially those killed or wounded. Below is a Vatican report of that visit.

This is a city I know and love very much and where I have friends and I’ve accompanied the cardinal in my thoughts and prayers.

Today also marks the 4th anniversary of the canonization of Saint Teresa of Calcutta – Mother Teresa. Vatican news interviewed the postulator of her cause and you can follow that story here: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/church/news/2020-09/saint-mother-teresa-kolkata-annivesary-canonization.html

VATICAN INSIDER OFFERS A TRIVIAL PURSUIT WEEKEND

This week on Vatican Insider, after an overview of the news stories this week in the Vatican and a Q&A on cremation and burial, I look at some topics that have surface in emails I’ve received over time. I answer questions about the patron saint of television (who and why?), the statue of St. Peter in the basilica named for him, why Popes wear white (who started that?), Rome’s most visited nativity scene and look at which is larger, the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica or that of the Capitol in Washington, D.C.

IN THE UNITED STATES, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (stations listed at www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio, or on http://www.ewtn.com. 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 www.ewtnradio.net ALWAYS CHECK YOUR OWN TIME ZONE! For VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/multimedia/audio-library/index.asp (write Vatican Insider where it says Search Shows and Episodes)

CARDINAL PAROLIN IN BEIRUT: ENTIRE CHURCH STANDS IN SOLIDARITY WITH LEBANON

Following the Pope’s invitation for a universal day of prayer and fasting for Lebanon on Friday, Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, expresses the Church’s closeness and solidarity with the nation, amid its economic and political crisis exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic and the recent explosion in Beirut.

By Vatican News

Pope Francis, during the Wednesday General Audience, called for a universal day of prayer and fasting on Friday for Lebanon, in the aftermath of the deadly 4 August explosion at the Beirut port, as well as the ongoing economic and political crisis in the country.

The Pope also announced he would send Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin to Lebanon as his representative “to be present with its people” and to express his “solidarity and spiritual closeness.”

Ahead of the day of prayer, Cardinal Parolin met Thursday with the Lebanese Bishops, representatives of different religious communities, and humanitarian organizations at the St. George Maronite Cathedral in Beirut.

Solidarity with Lebanon
Addressing the religious leaders during the meeting, Cardinal Parolin explained that his visit was “to express the nearness of the Catholic Church throughout the world.”

He pointed out that the Pope’s appeal for a day of prayer generated immediate responses from all over the world. “You are not alone!” he said, assuring Lebanon’s leaders.

He also called on the nation’s political leaders, urging them to “foster the talents of young people and their aspirations for peace and a better future,” adding that only together can we “defeat all forms of authoritarianism by promoting inclusive citizenship based on the respect of fundamental rights and duties.”

“Our suffering can help us purify our intentions and strengthen our resolve to live together in peace and dignity, to strive for a better governance that favors responsibility, transparency and accountability,” he said.

Pointing out the unique value of Lebanon – a part of the Holy Land that was visited by Jesus, His Apostles, and Our Lady – Cardinal Parolin reminded the religious leaders that they have a “primary mission to give hope to an afflicted population, to honor and serve our brothers and sisters in humanity, starting with the most vulnerable.”

He concluded by encouraging the many “beautiful” examples of solidarity already happening all over Beirut, and appealed to the international community to not leave Lebanon alone, as the world “also needs the unique ongoing experiment of pluralism, living together in solidarity and freedom that is Lebanon.”

Find strength to set out again

At a Mass celebrated at the Shrine of Our Lady of Lebanon in Harissa, on the same day, Cardinal Parolin encouraged all Lebanese “to continue to hope and to find the strength and energy to set out again”, despite the economic, social and political crisis which has only been made worse by the Covid-19 pandemic and the explosion in August.

Our Lady of Harissa –

The Vatican Secretary of State appealed that the reconstruction of the country should be done not only at the material level, but also in a way that fosters a new approach to the management of public affairs based on laws, transparency, collective responsibility and the common good.

Cardinal Parolin concluded his homily with Pope Francis’s words during the General Audience on Wednesday: “And now I ask you to entrust to Mary, Our Lady of Harissa, our anxieties and our hopes. May she support all those who mourn their loved ones and may she give courage to all those who have lost their homes and, with them, part of their lives! May she intercede before the Lord Jesus so that the Land of Cedars may blossom again and spread the fragrance of living together throughout the Middle East.”

VATICAN INSIDER: THE 7 HILLS OF ROME, COATS OF ARMS AND CANDLES AND ROME’S OLDEST BRIDGE – VATICAN MUSEUM DIRECTOR NAMED TO ADVISORY BOARD OF HERMITAGE MUSEUM – SAINT AUGUSTINE’S STORY

L’Osservatore Romano weekly English edition: https://www.osservatoreromano.va/en/pdfreader.html/ing/2020/08/ING_2020_035_2808.pdf.html?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=NewsletterOR-EN

If you are a mother (or know one) who has dedicated her prayer life to a child straying from all that is good and right in life, one who continually, as the expression goes, “pushes the envelope,” then the story of St. Monica and her son, St. Augustine, is for you! If you need to feel encouraged, if you are praying to experience even the slightest sensation of optimism, this is the story you need to know and reflect on.

Yesterday, as we know, was the memorial of St. Monica and today is the feast of her son. I’ve posted below the capsule version of St. Augustine’s life as told in their Saint of the Day column by franciscanmedia.org

VATICAN INSIDER: THE 7 HILLS OF ROME, COATS OF ARMS AND CANDLES AND ROME’S OLDEST BRIDGE

I’m looking forward to have you join me this weekend on Vatican Insider! Wherever you are as you listen, if you’ve decided to spend a brief moment with me this weekend, I think I have a fun offering for you in what is normally the interview segment.

I’ve called this segment INQUIRING MINDS WANT TO KNOW because I’m going to bring you some trivia – some little known, and often unusual facts about the Vatican – some fun stories about the 7 hills of Rome, the papal coat of arms, the Paschal candle, Vatican City State, the Vatican mosaic studio and the Bridge of Angels. I also call this “Inquiring Minds Want to Know” because so many people have written me in the past with questions and now is a good time to answer those questions, although I often try, when time allows, to personally answer those emails.

(A heads-up: There were hours of technical difficulties today as I was trying to record the News segment so, if by chance you notice an audio difference in that and my Special, it was due to different methods of recording. My EWTN colleagues in Alabama are very talented people so I know you’ll get the best audio possible!)

IN THE UNITED STATES, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (stations listed at www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio, or on http://www.ewtn.com. 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 www.ewtnradio.net ALWAYS CHECK YOUR OWN TIME ZONE! For VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/multimedia/audio-library/index.asp (write Vatican Insider where it says Search Shows and Episodes)

VATICAN MUSEUM DIRECTOR NAMED TO ADVISORY BOARD OF HERMITAGE MUSEUM

In an email to members of the meeting who regularly receive “The Agenda of Barbara Jatta, Museum Director,” it was announced that, “Following her recent appointment as an official member of the Advisory Board of the State Hermitage Museum, today, Friday 28 August, the Director of the Vatican Museums Barbara Jatta will participate by videoconference in the annual meeting of the committee that, for the year 2020, will bring together the directors of the principal international museums in the city of Yekaterinburg (Urals), where one of the new satellite offices of the illustrious cultural institution of St. Petersburg will soon be inaugurated.

The meeting will be a precious moment of exchange and comparison to identify the most suitable strategies to face the critical issues of the museum sector in this particular historical moment.

SAINT AUGUSTINE’S STORY

(franciscanmedia.org) Saint Augustine of Hippo – Saint of the Day for August 28 (November 13, 354 – August 28, 430)

A Christian at 33, a priest at 36, a bishop at 41: Many people are familiar with the biographical sketch of Augustine of Hippo, sinner turned saint. But really to get to know the man is a rewarding experience.

There quickly surfaces the intensity with which he lived his life, whether his path led away from or toward God. The tears of his mother, the instructions of Ambrose and, most of all, God himself speaking to him in the Scriptures, redirected Augustine’s love of life to a life of love.

His tomb in Pavia, Italy –

Having been so deeply immersed in creature-pride of life in his early days and having drunk deeply of its bitter dregs, it is not surprising that Augustine should have turned, with a holy fierceness, against the many demon-thrusts rampant in his day. His times were truly decadent: politically, socially, morally. He was both feared and loved, like the Master. The perennial criticism leveled against him: a fundamental rigorism.

In his day, Augustine providentially fulfilled the office of prophet. Like Jeremiah and other greats, he was hard-pressed but could not keep quiet. “I say to myself, I will not mention him/I will speak in his name no more/But then it becomes like fire burning in my heart/imprisoned in my bones/I grow weary holding it in/I cannot endure it” (Jeremiah 20:9). https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODAug28.mp3

 

VATICAN INSIDER EXPLORES BELLS, FLAGS, BASILICA FLOOR MARKINGS AND MORE! – EVERYTHING YOU WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VATICAN BUT WERE AFRAID TO ASK – ROME’S FIUMICINO AIRPORT TURNS 60

Weekly Vatican newspaper in English: https://www.osservatoreromano.va/en/pdfreader.html/ing/2020/08/ING_2020_034_2108.pdf.html?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=NewsletterOR-EN

Some day you WILL return to the Eternal City and chances are you will land at Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci Airport aka Fiumicino (FCO) The grand lady of airports turned 60 two days ago and there was a great story in the online edition of Wanted in Rome (see below)

VATICAN INSIDER EXPLORES BELLS, FLAGS, BASILICA FLOOR MARKINGS AND MORE!

Welcome to Vatican Insider as we come close to the end of summer, a time when you’re possibly on vacation or, if not vacation, spending a tranquil weekend, hopefully relaxing and enjoying family and friends and some down time. If you’ve decided to spend a brief moment with me on this weekend, I think I have a fun offering for you in what is normally the interview segment. I’ve called this segment “Inquiring minds want to know” because I’m going to bring you some trivia – some little known, and often unusual facts about the Vatican – some fun stories about bells and flags and basilica floors. But remember this might be trivia but it is not trivial!

IN THE UNITED STATES, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (stations listed at www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio, or on http://www.ewtn.com. 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 www.ewtnradio.net ALWAYS CHECK YOUR OWN TIME ZONE! For VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/multimedia/audio-library/index.asp (write Vatican Insider where it says Search Shows and Episodes)

EVERYTHING YOU WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VATICAN BUT WERE AFRAID TO ASK

If there is something you wanted to know about the Vatican, Vatican City State, and the Roman Curia, there is one site that will take you to 83 websites for Vatican congregations, dicasteries, tribunals, councils, offices linked to the Vatican, the health care center, museums, Swiss Guards, synods, Pontifical Musical Chorus of the Sistine Chapel: Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, Campo Santo Teutonic (Teutonic cemetery), Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice Foundation, Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, and a ton more!

I started to explore this link and realized I needed some hours to do a good job of exploring each website individually. I did click on a fair number and found, as you will, that there is a great variety in the sites, especially with regard to languages. Some sites have 5 or 6 languages, some only Italian and others only Italian and English. The website about the Teutonic cemetery has, for example only German (unfortunately, I think). A site I would have thought would have 5 or 6 languages but only had Italian and English was the Dicastery for Communication.

Have fun! http://www.vatican.va/siti_va/index_va_en.htm

ROME’S FIUMICINO AIRPORT TURNS 60

From the joy of the Olympic Games to the trials of covid-19, the story of Rome’s main airport.

(wantedinrome.com) Rome’s Leonardo Da Vinci International Airport, better known as Fiumicino, celebrates its 60th birthday on 20 August 2020.

The airport, which was a symbol of restart during Italy’s post-war economic boom, opened to air traffic on 20 August 1960, five days before the start of Rome’s Olympic Games.

Designed to cope with increasing demand for flights to the capital, the new airport came about after two designs were merged: plans by Riccardo Morandi and Andrea Zavitteri were combined with those by Amedeo Luccichenti and Vincenzo Monaco.

The final project was approved in August 1958 and the construction works lasted 21 months, during which the remains of five ancient Roman ships were discovered.

During the Olympics, Fiumicino was used to help alleviate Rome’s other airport, Ciampino. Fiumicino did not become fully operational however until 15 January 1961, with the landing of the first airliner: the Twa Lockheed Constellation, from New York.

Located about 35 km southwest of the centre of Rome, Fiumicino consisted of just two runways in the 1960s, with a third one added in 1973 along with a new hangar to accommodate Boeing 747s.

In recent years the airport has won a string of awards, however its level of organisation and customer service was not always at the high level it enjoys today.

Over the past six decades the airport has also been affected by tragic events such as the terrorist attacks in 1973 (32 dead) and the second in 1985 (13 dead).

Fiumicino suffered a setback too with a fire on 7 May 2015, which spread to Terminal 3, causing major disruption but no serious injuries.

Fiumicino has recently undergone an extensive modernisation programme and has also been to the forefront in technological development, becoming the first Italian airport to install e-gates.

The airport has also achieved much success with awards, including among passengers, and in 2019 it welcomed around 44 million passengers.

2020 is perhaps Fiumicino’s most difficult year to date, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, however the airport has risen to the challenge by operating to strict regulations and carrying out covid-19 tests on passengers from ‘at risk’ countries.

Most recently the airport was recognised by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) for its commitment to sustainability.

 

VATICAN INSIDER GOES STAR GAZING – A ROME HOTEL AND A POLISH SAINT

In my August 12 column about the diaconate ordination that afternoon at Chicago’s Mundelien seminary, I posted my story about one of those seminarians, now Deacon Ryan Brady, to whom I had given a chalice that had been in our family. That blog was titled A CHALICE GOES HOME.  I neglected to say that WordPress – where I post my blog – leaves photos available only for a short period, no more than a few weeks, I believe. So the photos of that chalice did not appear in the re-posted story and I am so sorry!  By the by, if you counted 14  deacons, not 13 as I wrote, I learned this morning that a 14th seminarian was included at the last moment.

P.S: I hope you enjoy all the photos I’ve posted below of the Vatican Observatory at Castelgandolfo and those of the Kolbe Hotel in Rome named for the Polish saint whose we feast we celebrate today.

VATICAN INSIDER GOES STAR GAZING

When Popes spent the summer period at the Apostolic Palace at Castelgandolfo, one of the many hill towns or “castelli romani” southeast of Rome, they enjoyed cooler air, a slower pace of life and a view of lovely and placid Lake Albano that fills an old volcanic crater, and the beautiful sprawling hills which surround it.

The palace at Castelgandolfo also offers Popes another, more spectacular view, should they so wish – a view of the universe through the telescopes of the twin observatory towers atop the pontifical residence.

And this weekend, I’ve prepared a Special for “Vatican Insider” on the very special Vatican Observatory.

The Specola, as the Vatican Observatory is also called, is not only one of the most highly respected observatories in the world but is actually one of the oldest astronomical institutes, dating back to 1582 when Pope Gregory XIII formed a committee to look at the scientific data and ramifications involved in a reform of the calendar. One of the committee members, Fr. Christoph Clavius, a Jesuit mathematician from the Roman College, wrote books favoring this reform and, with some of his brother Jesuits interested in astronomy, confirmed studies done by Galileo.

I took these photos at the observatory at Castelgandolfo when the Jesuits – the order that has run the Observatory for over 100 years – invited journalists for a visit:

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IN THE UNITED STATES, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (stations listed at www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio, or on http://www.ewtn.com. 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 www.ewtnradio.net ALWAYS CHECK YOUR OWN TIME ZONE! For VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/multimedia/audio-library/index.asp (write Vatican Insider where it says Search Shows and Episodes)

A ROME HOTEL AND A POLISH SAINT

In January 2018, I spent an evening in the presence of two choirs that sang at the papal Mass on the Epiphany, principally the young people’s amazing choir of Christ Cathedral in Orange County, California, along with members of St. Anne’s choir from Laguna Niguel. I was invited to join them for dinner at a hotel I had heard of but never visited, the Kolbe Hotel.

The hotel was named for St. Maximilian Kolbe, a Polish Conventual Franciscan Friar who died in the Auschwitz concentration during World War II. The Nazi prison guards chose 10 people to be put to death and prisoner 16670 Kolbe offered to take the place of a stranger. We commemorated his birthday on Monday, January 8.

The hotel premises are part of a structure built in 1625 that became a Franciscan monastery in 2012. Renovations started on the premises in 2007 and the result is what we see today, the Kolbe Hotel, part of which is still a Franciscan monastery.

Today is the feast of St. Maximilian Kolbe and I’d like to pay tribute to this martyr for the faith by sharing some of the photos I took at the Hotel Kolbe that evening – the room he lived in and chapel where he prayed when he was at what was then the International College of the Order of Friars Minor Conventual , and a small museum dedicated to this Polish saint.

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He was canonized in 1992 by a fellow Pole, Pope John Paul II.

https://www.kolbehotelrome.com/

 

VATICAN INSIDER: SOME TRIVIA AND FUN STORIES FROM THE VATICAN (PART II) – UNESCO “REGRETS” TURKISH DECISION ON HAGIA SOPHIA, A WORLD HERITAGE SITE – JULY 24, FEAST OF BELOVED LEBANESE SAINT CHARBEL MAKHLOUF

Click here for English edition of weekly L’Osservatore Romano: https://www.osservatoreromano.va/en/pdfreader.html/ing/2020/07/ING_2020_030_2407.pdf.html?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=NewsletterOR-EN

VATICAN INSIDER: SOME TRIVIA AND FUN STORIES FROM THE VATICAN (PART II)

Wherever you are as you listen to Vatican Insider this weekend, if you’ve decided to spend a brief moment with me, I think I have a fun offering for you in what is normally the interview segment.

I’ve called this Special “Inquiring Minds Want To Know” because I’m going to bring you some trivia – some little known, and often unusual facts about the Vatican, Popes or the Church. Join me for Part II as I look at who is the patron saint of television, the story of the statue of St. Peter in the basilica named for him and why Popes wear white. I’ll also look at who made one of the most visited nativity scenes in Rome and lastly, will tell you which has the biggest dome – St. Peter’s Basilica or the U.S. capitol?

Remember these stories might be a bit of trivia but they are not trivial!

UNESCO “REGRETS” TURKISH DECISION ON HAGIA SOPHIA, A WORLD HERITAGE SITE

There could be an interesting twist in Turkey’s July 10 decision to turn the once Christian basilica-then mosque-then museum of Hagia Sophia back into a mosque. In 1934, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founding father of the Republic of Turkey, turned Hagia Sophia into a museum, which later became a UNESCO world heritage site. It was Turkey’s current president Erdogan who announce the recent change on July 10. Reaction against the change poured in, not only from many Turks but from around the world and one of the strongest voices was that of UNECSO.

Two things in particular struck me and I have contacted UNESCO but do not have an answer as I write:

1. “This decision announced today raises the issue of the impact of this change of status on the property’s universal value. States have an obligation to ensure that modifications do not affect the Outstanding Universal Value of inscribed sites on their territories.”

2. “UNESCO calls upon the Turkish authorities to initiate dialogue without delay, in order to prevent any detrimental effect on the universal value of this exceptional heritage, the state of conservation of which will be examined by the World Heritage Committee at its next session.”

Both of these imply some possible change in the monetary aspect of being a World Heritage site, such as monies earmarked for restoration, etc.

Hagia Sophia re-opened today for Muslim prayer. Today’s date was important as July 24, 1923 marks the date that Allied powers and Turkey signed the Treaty of Lausanne that ended the Ottoman Empire and signaled the start of the Republic of Turkey. An estimated 7,000 police closed off and policed a large portion of Istanbul adjacent to Hagia Sophia. Those who could not get inside brought their own prayer rugs and prayed outside in the adjacent garden area. An estimated 1,000 faithful prayed inside, including President Erdogan.

Following is the complete statement from the UNESCO website:

Hagia Sophia: UNESCO deeply regrets the decision of the Turkish authorities, made without prior discussion, and calls for the universal value of World Heritage to be preserved.

Paris, Friday 10 July – The Director-General of UNESCO deeply regrets the decision of the Turkish authorities, made without prior discussion, to change the status of Hagia Sophia. This evening, she shared her serious concerns with the Ambassador of Turkey to UNESCO.

Hagia Sophia is part of the Historic Areas of Istanbul, a property inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. “Hagia Sophia is an architectural masterpiece and a unique testimony to interactions between Europe and Asia over the centuries. Its status as a museum reflects the universal nature of its heritage, and makes it a powerful symbol for dialogue,” said Director-General Audrey Azoulay.

This decision announced today raises the issue of the impact of this change of status on the property’s universal value. States have an obligation to ensure that modifications do not affect the Outstanding Universal Value of inscribed sites on their territories. UNESCO must be given prior notice of any such modifications, which, if necessary, are then examined by the World Heritage Committee.

UNESCO also recalls that the effective, inclusive and equitable participation of communities and other stakeholders concerned by the property is necessary to preserve this heritage and highlight its uniqueness and significance. The purpose of this requirement is to protect and transmit the Outstanding Universal Value of heritage, and it is inherent to the spirit of the World Heritage Convention.

These concerns were shared with the Republic of Turkey in several letters, and again yesterday evening with the representative of the Turkish Delegation to UNESCO. It is regrettable that the Turkish decision was made without any form of dialogue or prior notice. UNESCO calls upon the Turkish authorities to initiate dialogue without delay, in order to prevent any detrimental effect on the universal value of this exceptional heritage, the state of conservation of which will be examined by the World Heritage Committee at its next session.

“It is important to avoid any implementing measure, without prior discussion with UNESCO, that would affect physical access to the site, the structure of the buildings, the site’s moveable property, or the site’s management,” stressed Ernesto Ottone, UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Culture. Such measures could constitute breaches of the rules derived from the 1972 World Heritage Convention. (https://en.unesco.org/news/unesco-statement-hagia-sophia-istanbul)

JULY 24, FEAST OF BELOVED LEBANESE SAINT CHARBEL MAKHLOUF

On one of my visits to Lebanon, a very good friend took me to Saint Maroun Monastery in Annaya, the shrine of St. Charbel, perhaps the most beloved of Lebanon’s saints, beloved by both Christians and Muslims. We spent an afternoon and early evening exploring the Monastery of St. Maroun, the hermitage and small museum and also attended Mass in a church built in 1840. Our final moments were at the tomb of the saint that, since 1952, has been in a cave-like structure.

Thousands and thousands of medically-verified miraculous healings have been attributed to St. Charbel’s intercession. For the past 70 years, since the healings have been recorded, more than 29,00 such cases have been archived.

Charbel, a Catholic Maronite monk and priest renown for his holiness, lived from May 8, 1828 to December 24, 1898. for several decades after his death, his body was incorrupt. Though his body is no longer incorrupt, his tomb is one of several in the world that has oil exuding from it, said to have miraculous healing as attested to by many witnesses.

I have a small bottle of that oil – still unopened – from that visit.

Here are some photos I took on that afternoon visit. The shrine is well above sea level and it was cold as we were on our mini pilgrimage.

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VATICAN INSIDER: SOME TRIVIA AND FUN STORIES FROM THE VATICAN – HOLY FATHER DONATES 2500 CORONAVIRUS TESTS TO GAZA – A LITTLE BIT OF THIS, A LITTLE BIT OF THAT

Tomorrow, July 18, marks the 150th anniversary of the promulgation of the Dogmatic Constitution Pastor Aeternus that defined the dogmas of the primacy of the Pope and that of papal infallibility in the First Vatican Council in 1870. If those topics are of interest to you and you also love Church history, then this article is for you: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2020-07/primacy-and-infallibility-150-years-after-vatican-i.html

To read this weekend’s L’Osservatore Romano in English, click here: https://www.osservatoreromano.va/en/pdfreader.html/ing/2020/07/ING_2020_029_1707.pdf.html?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=NewsletterOR-EN

VATICAN INSIDER: SOME TRIVIA AND FUN STORIES FROM THE VATICAN

This weekend, in what is normally the interview segment of “Vatican Insider,” I present another of the Specials I have prepared for you in these months of Covid restrictions for in-person interviews but we are working on something to remedy that. This weekend I’m calling this Special “Inquiring Minds Want To Know” because I’m going to bring you some trivia – some little known, and often unusual facts about the Vatican – some fun stories about bells and flags and basilica floors. For example, flags – only two states in the world have officially square flags: Vatican City is one. What is the other? did you know that there is a German cemetery in Vatican City? Then listen to the great story about the mosaic of Mary on the façade of the Apostolic Palace. So stay tuned for “Inquiring Minds Want To Know”! I might even quiz you at the end!

IN THE UNITED STATES, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (stations listed at www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio, or on http://www.ewtn.com. 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 www.ewtnradio.net ALWAYS CHECK YOUR OWN TIME ZONE! For VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/multimedia/audio-library/index.asp (write Vatican Insider where it says Search Shows and Episodes)

HOLY FATHER DONATES 2500 CORONAVIRUS TESTS TO GAZA

Pope Francis has donated 2500 Covid-19 tests to Gaza’s Ministry of Health through the Congregation for Oriental Churches. The test kits were delivered by Caritas Jerusalem and Fr. Gabriel Romanelli of the Sacred Family parish in Gaza. The donation is part of the initiative pro-
moted by the emergency fund established by Pope Francis to help the countries most impacted by the spread of the coronavirus. According to Fr. Romanelli, “the kits sent by the Pope will help to make more precise diagnoses and as soon as we received them we took them to the laboratory
at the Ministry of Health. In fact, there is only one machine in all of Gaza that is able to perform the analysis”.

A LITTLE BIT OF THIS, A LITTLE BIT OF THAT

FRIDAY 17THIS CONSIDERED AN UNLUCKY DATE IN ITALY. But that’s not the only strange Italian superstition you’ll need to be aware of. Particularly among the older generation, you’ll discover that Italians tend to take superstitions seriously, often doing things ‘per scaramanzia’ – to ward off bad luck. So if you want to ensure good fortune comes your way, here are some of the things to watch out for, according to Italian customs.   (You would not have a dinner party with 17 people)

First, the good news. Italy has its own date that you should be wary of: Friday the 17th. Just as some Western airlines avoid including the 13th row on planes, you might find number 17 omitted in Italian planes, street numbering, hotel floors and so on, so even if you’re not the superstitious type, it’s handy to be aware of. The reason for this is because in Roman numerals, the number 17 (XVII) is an anagram of the Latin word VIXI, meaning “I have lived” — the use of the past tense suggests death, and therefore bad luck. It’s less clear what’s so inauspicious about Friday.

Thought there was no point crying over spilled olive oil? Think again. In Italy, this is very bad luck indeed. And it’s not just because Italians don’t want to see their top quality oil wasted (though the tradition likely has its roots in a time when olive oil was a luxury), or because oil stains are tough to get out of clothes. The act of spilling the liquid is considered to bring ill fortune. (thelocal.it)

VISIT THE COLOSSEUM UNDER THE STARS WITH GUIDED TOURS IN ENGLISH AND ITALIAN – Guided tours of the Colosseum will take place every Saturday night this summer, from 25 July to 29 August 2020, thanks to the return of the Luna sul Colosseo experience. The tours last about an hour and begin on the arena floor, with its views into the underground tunnels where gladiators and wild animals were held before combat, and also includes a visit to the first level of the ancient amphitheatre.

The tours, conducted in Italian and English, are designed for groups of up to 20 people, with visitor safety and social distancing guaranteed by Parco Colosseo. Tickets cost €24, and there is a family package costing €44 (two adults plus up to three children under the age of 18). Visitors must wear masks and maintain social distancing. Booking must be made online, by selecting the day and time of visit, via the Colosseum website or Coopculture website. (source: WantedinRome)

‘A LITTLE CORNER OF ENGLAND IN NAPLES’: THE SECRETS OF A FAMED ITALIAN TIE SHOP – Film stars, British royalty and local Naples residents all buy handmade ties from one shop so famous for its artisanal finery that some customers boast collections of thousands. The painstaking needlework cannot be rushed, despite demand for E. Marinella ties usually far outstripping production. In Naples, the tiny shop near the sea remains much as it was when it opened in 1914, with its wood-framed windows, chandelier, and counter where the red, blue, polka dot or diamond-patterned ties are displayed.

Maurizio Marinella, 64, who is the third generation to head up the company, says his family’s success in the southern Italian city, which struggles with poverty and unemployment, was “a kind of miracle”.  “It all started in 20 square metres in Naples, where everything is a little  more difficult than elsewhere,” he told AFP. https://www.thelocal.it/20200717/a-little-corner-of-england-in-naples-inside-a-historic-italian-tie-shop

 

VATICAN INSIDER GOES BACK UNDERGROUND: THE CATACOMBS – “THE ANGUISH OF AN ABSENCE”

To read this week’s L’Osservatore Romano in English:

https://www.osservatoreromano.va/en/pdfreader.html/ing/2020/07/ING_2020_028_1007.pdf.html?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=NewsletterOR-EN

VATICAN INSIDER  GOES BACK UNDERGROUND: THE CATACOMBS

I hope you are finding some way to stay cool on what seems to be a very hot weekend everywhere but I guess that’s no surprise as it is July and that’s traditionally a very hot time of year!

One way to stay cool would be to come with me this weekend when, in the interview segment of “Vatican Insider,” I take you on a visit of Rome’s catacombs, often some of the coolest places to be in summer (maybe a little humid, however). The Roman catacombs are among the most venerated places of Christianity and a premiere attraction for both pilgrims and tourists. Not only do they represent positively remarkable engineering feats, they are, as well, rich repositories of material that, notwithstanding centuries of sacking, have provided us with valuable insights into Christian life, death, worship and art of the first centuries.

Literally hundreds of miles of these underground cemeteries were built on the perimeter of Imperial Rome, because it was forbidden by Roman Law to bury the dead within city limits.

Following are some of the photos I took on a visit several years ago to the catacombs of St. Tecla on a mini-pilgrimage organized for the media.

We first attended a press conference in a room that is part of the St. Paul’s Outside-the-Walls complex. The history of the two-year renovations on these catacombs, located smack dab in the middle of a Roman neighborhood of high-rise apartments and office buildings, was explained to us, accompanied by a slide presentation of the restoration work, the newly revealed images, etc.

The story behind the catacombs: There was a Roman noble lady, a Christian, named Tecla (also written Thecla) to whom these catacombs are dedicated. Although there was a Christian woman named Tecla in Iconium (modern day Konya, Turkey, which I’ve visited on pilgrimage) who was a dedicated follower of St. Paul, it is the Roman Tecla for whom these catacombs, that contain images of St. Paul, are named. We were told they have had this name since the sixth century.

To be honest, because it is not known exactly how or where the Iconium Tecla finished her earthly life, some believe it may have been Rome and these catacombs are dedicated to her. Thus, for some scholars, there was only one Tecla.

In June 2009, Vatican archaeologists announced that, in restoration work done on the catacombs of St. Tecla in Rome, they had discovered what they believed to be the oldest image in existence of St Paul the Apostle, dating from the late 4th century, on the walls of the catacomb beneath Rome. An article in the Vatican newspaper revealed the stunning discovery in 2009 after almost a year of work on the calcium-encrusted catacomb walls.

Using laser technology, technicians were able to remove the clay and calcium carbonate from walls that seemed as if covered by snow and the results showed the colors long lost beneath the calcium. At the time, experts of the Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archaeology described the discovery as the “oldest icon in history dedicated to the cult of the Apostle.”  (Wish I had my current camera at the time)

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IN THE UNITED STATES, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (stations listed at www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio, or on http://www.ewtn.com. 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 www.ewtnradio.net ALWAYS CHECK YOUR OWN TIME ZONE! For VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/multimedia/audio-library/index.asp (write Vatican Insider where it says Search Shows and Episodes)

“THE ANGUISH OF AN ABSENCE”

Last night before going to bed, I took one of my favorite prayer books, “Prayers for the Moment” by Fr. Peter John Cameron, OP and opened it to a random page. Both the title, “Prayer for Light in Times of Darkness” and the actual prayer that followed left me speechless.

The prayer was written by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (to become Benedict XVI). I was moved because the Pope emeritus just lost his beloved brother Georg, and the first lines seemed to be a preview of that moment. They also seemed as if they had been written only two days ago for his brother’s funeral.

I could only think that these are the reflections of Benedict XVI as he mourns his great loss and can be ours if we mourn a loss or experience “hours of darkness, of abandonment, when all seems difficult.”

I was also moved because we are living in times when, for many, many reasons, we need the spiritual insight given in these profound and heartfelt words:

“Lord Jesus Christ, in the darkness of death You made a light shine; in the abyss of the deepest solitude the powerful protection of Your love now lives for ever; in the throes of Your concealment we now can sing the hallelujah of the saved. Grant us the humble simplicity of faith, which does not let us stray when You call us in the hours of darkness, of abandonment, when all seems difficult; grant us, at this time when a mortal struggle is being waged around You, light enough that we will not lose You; light enough for us to give to all those who still have need of it. Make the mystery of Your Easter joy shine, like the aurora of the dawn, on these days of ours; grant that we may truly be men of Easter in the midst of history’s Holy Saturday. Grant that in the course of the days of light and dark of this age we may always with happy hearts find ourselves on the pathway to Your future glory.
Amen”

As a source of this reflection, I found the following online: MEDITATIONS ON HOLY SATURDAY – “The anguish of an absence” by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (http://www.30giorni.it/articoli_id_10282_l3.htm

VATICAN INSIDER GOES UNDERGROUND – FRANCIS EXPRESSES SYMPATHY AND CLOSENESS TO BENEDICT XVI ON LOSS OF BROTHER

There will probably be little news from or about Pope Francis this month as he traditionally reduces his working schedule, including the weekly general audiences and private encounters, during July. He is scheduled to appear at the window of his study in the Apostolic Palace on Sundays for the Angelus as part of his working vacation.

EWTN employees have been given Friday, July 3 and Monday, July 6 as holidays so these pages might be quiet. I’ll stay on top of news stories and may pop in if something extraordinary develops (which we really do not want to happen in such hot weather). Often I repost stories I see on Facebook so you may find some news there (facebook.com/joan.lewis.10420).

In any case, I wish each and every one of you a blessed, happy, peaceful, healthy and patriotic July 4th! Our nation truly needs prayers and that would be the best gift to our country on this 244th anniversary!

VATICAN INSIDER GOES UNDERGROUND

This weekend on “Vatican Insider,” I’ll take you on a tour of the Vatican’s famed “scavi” – Italian for excavations – the celebrated pre-Constantine necropolis (‘city of the dead’) that lies under the basilica named for the first Pope, Peter, who is buried in this necropolis. In fact, one of the most special visits you will make in the Eternal City, and possibly all of Italy, is to the scavi.

I mention Constantine as he became the Western emperor in 312 and the sole Roman emperor in 324. Constantine was also the first emperor to adhere to Christianity. He issued an edict in February 313 that protected Christians in the empire and converted to Christianity on his deathbed in 337.

Because of the extremely limited number of people allowed into the scavi on a daily basis, reservations are given out on a first come – first served basis. I absolutely recommend that you contact the scavi office for tickets between three and four months prior to your arrival in Rome. YES, 3 or 4 months before you arrive!

I do not know all the rules and regulations regarding tours in a coronavirus era but here’s a link to the website. I just spoke to the scavi office and learned they will re-open Monday, July 6: http://www.scavi.va/content/scavi/en/ufficio-scavi.html

FRANCIS EXPRESSES SYMPATHY AND CLOSENESS TO BENEDICT XVI ON LOSS OF BROTHER

The Vatican today published Pope Francis’ letter to Pope emeritus Benedict XVI whose older brother, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger, 96, died in Regensburg, Germany Wednesday morning, July 1. On June 29th the brothers marked the 69th anniversary of priestly ordination.

Addressed to “His Holiness Benedict XVI, Pope emeritus,” Francis wrote: “You had the sensitivity to be the first to inform me of the news of the death of your beloved brother, Monsignor Georg. I wish to renew my deepest sympathy and spiritual closeness to you in this moment of sorrow.  I assure you of my prayers for the repose of the soul of the late and lamented, that the Lord of life, in His merciful goodness, may welcome him into heaven and grant him the reward prepared for faithful servants of the Gospel. I pray also for you, Your Holiness, invoking the Father, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, for the support of Christian hope and tender divine consolation.

Always united in faith in the Risen Christ, the source of hope and peace,

Filially and fraternally,

Francis

Vatican media file photo

VATICAN INSIDER: ST. SEBASTIAN BASILICA AND CATACOMBS – POPE BENEDICT XVI CELEBRATES MASS WITH HIS ILL BROTHER ON FEAST OF THE SACRED HEART

I am so happy to share the lovely news of the two Ratzinger brothers – Pope emeritus Benedict XVI and Msgr. Georg – saying mass together in Regensburg, Germany. And this just days before the June 29 anniversary of their priestly ordination in the cathedral of Freising on that day in 1951!

Msgr. Georg lives in this building on Luzengasse in Regensburg.

I took this photo in September 2006 when Benedict made a visit to his beloved Bavaria. Wednesday, September 13, was set aside as a day for the two brothers to spend together – no public activities for Benedict XVI – and the Munich Tourism Office offered several possible day or half-day trips for the media. I signed up for a trip to visit all the places of the pope’s childhood and youth and to this very day, it was one of the best travel memories I ever had in Germany.

When I returned to Rome I bought a photo printer, took perhaps 24 of the best photos I had taken during my trip and made copies from the memory card. I bought a beautiful photo album, put one picture on each page with a one-word description of each place (not that I thought it would be necessary!) and gave that album to Pope Benedict!

Maybe some day I’ll do a slideshow of some of the enchanting places associated with the pope’s childhood and youth.

VATICAN INSIDER: ST. SEBASTIAN BASILICA AND CATACOMBS

As you know, because of the COVID-19 crisis and restrictions imposed on and by people for in person interviews – at least up to now – in recent weeks I have filled what is normally the interview segment of Vatican Insider with Specials. So far, I’ve explored 6 of the 7 Roman basilicas known as the Pilgrim Basilicas – St. Peter’s, St. John Lateran, St. Mary Major, St. Paul’s outside the Walls, Holy Cross in Jerusalem, and St. Lawrence al Verano. Come with me this weekend as we go to the basilica of St. Sebastian that was built above the catacombs of the same name and is dedicated to the third-century saint who was twice martyred.

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So tune in for some fascinating facts and when you come to Rome, you’ll have this podcast as your guide to St. Sebastian!

IN THE UNITED STATES, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (stations listed at www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio, or on http://www.ewtn.com. 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 www.ewtnradio.net ALWAYS CHECK YOUR OWN TIME ZONE! For VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/multimedia/audio-library/index.asp (write Vatican Insider where it says Search Shows and Episodes)

POPE BENEDICT XVI CELEBRATES MASS WITH HIS ILL BROTHER ON FEAST OF THE SACRED HEART

The brothers celebrated Mass together at the house in Regensburg and the pope emeritus then travelled to the diocesan seminary in the afternoon to rest.

Catholic News Agency

REGENSBURG, Germany — Pope emeritus Benedict XVI will celebrate Mass with his ailing brother on the feast of the Sacred Heart during his first full day in Germany Friday.

A June 19 statement from the Diocese of Regensburg said that after Pope Benedict XVI arrived from Rome at noon on Thursday he immediately visited his 96-year-old brother, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger.

The brothers celebrated Mass together at the house in Regensburg and the pope emeritus then travelled to the diocesan seminary in the afternoon to rest. In the evening, he returned to see his brother.

The diocese said: “For the first morning in his old homeland, an authentic Bavarian breakfast awaited the pope emeritus in the seminary. There were pretzels, which Archbishop Georg Gänswein, who accompanied him, was also pleased about.”

“In the course of the morning the two brothers will celebrate together a high mass for today’s feast of the Sacred Heart.”

The diocese added that “afterwards there will be apple strudel,” a popular pastry in Bavaria and Austria.

FOR MORE: https://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/pope-benedict-xvi-celebrates-mass-with-his-ill-brother-on-feast-of-the-sacr

 

VATICAN INSIDER VISITS ST. LAWRENCE OUTSIDE THE WALLS BASILICA – “JESUS THE DIVINE WORKER FUND” PRESENTED IN ROME – THE FEAST OF CORPUS CHRISTI: THEN AND NOW

Here is a link to the weekly edition in English of L’Osservatore Romano: https://www.osservatoreromano.va/en/pdfreader.html/ing/2020/06/ING_2020_024_1206.pdf.html?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=NewsletterOR-EN

VATICAN INSIDER VISITS ST. LAWRENCE OUTSIDE THE WALLS BASILICA

As you know, what is normally the interview segment of Vatican Insider has been changed over recent months because of the COVID-19 crisis and restrictions imposed on and by people for in person interviews – at least up to now. I’ve thus filled this segment with Specials I’ve prepared for you, including visits to what are known as the Seven Pilgrim Basilica of Rome.

So far, I’ve explored five of those seven basilicas – the four papal basilicas of St. Peter’s, St, John Lateran,. St. Mary Major and St. Paul’s Outside the walls and last week we went to Holy Cross in Jerusalem. This weekend I take you to San Lorenzo – San Lawrence Outside the Walls. This is truly a not-to-miss church when you are in Rome so when you return to the Eternal City, you’ll have this podcast as your guide to St. Lawrence.

IN THE UNITED STATES, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (stations listed at www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio, or on http://www.ewtn.com. 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 www.ewtnradio.net ALWAYS CHECK YOUR OWN TIME ZONE! For VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/multimedia/audio-library/index.asp (write Vatican Insider where it says Search Shows and Episodes)

“JESUS THE DIVINE WORKER FUND” PRESENTED IN ROME

On Tuesday, June 9, the Vatican announced that Pope Francis has set up a fund to help families in Rome who have lost their livelihoods and are in economic difficulty due to the Covid-19 crisis. In a letter addressed to Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, vicar general of the Diocese of Rome, Francis wrote: “As bishop of Rome I have decided to establish the ‘Jesus the Divine Worker Fund’ to reaffirm the dignity of work, with an initial allocation of one million euros.”

He explained the Fund aims to support those “who risk being excluded from institutional protection and who need support until they can walk again unaccompanied…. My thoughts go “to the great number of daily and occasional workers, to those with fixed-term contracts that have not been renewed, to those who are paid by the hour, to interns, domestic workers, small entrepreneurs, self-employed workers, especially those in sectors most affected [by the pandemic] and their related industries.”

That fund was officially presented this morning, Friday, June 12, at 11am in the Sala degli Imperatori of the Lateran Apostolic Palace in the presence of Cardinal de Donatis, the president of the Lazio Region Nicola Zingaretti and Rome mayor Virginia Raggi. Raggi has pledged an additional €500,000.

THE FEAST OF CORPUS CHRISTI: THEN AND NOW

The feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, known in many countries as Corpus Christi or Corpus Domini, is a holiday in the Vatican and only one public event is usually on the papal schedule on this day – an evening Mass and procession to celebrate this feast which commemorates the Real Presence of Christ – Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity – in the Eucharist.

This annual celebration here in Rome traditionally starts with Mass at 7 p.m. in the square outside the Pope’s cathedral church of St. John Lateran, a procession with the Blessed Sacrament down Via Merulana to St. Mary Major Basilica and a blessing of the crowd gathered at this Marian basilica. This tradition has always taken place on a Thursday. (photos: Vatican, CNS, AP, Getty)

From 2013 to through 2017 Pope Francis celebrated Mass at St. John Lateran, joined the Eucharistic procession to St. Mary Major and blessed the faithful there. In 2018, he celebrated this feast in a parish in Ostia, a seaside town, and in 2019 he marked Corpus Christi in Casal Bertone.

In 2017, in what was seen as an unprecedented change, Francis announced that the traditional Roman Corpus Christi procession that has taken place for decades on a Thursday would henceforth be celebrated on Sunday.

It is on a Thursday, Holy Thursday, that the Church celebrates the institution of the Eucharist

This year, however, 2020, because of the restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic, Pope Francis will celebrate Mass on Sunday, June 14, at the Altar of the Chair in St. Peter’s Basilica at 9:45 am in the presence of about 50 faithful.

Via Merulana, originally called Via Gregoriana, was laid out by Pope Gregory XIII during the Holy Year 1575. There is a Via Gregoriana in Rome today but it is located near the famed Spanish Steps. Among Pope Gregory’s achievements: He reformed the calendar, founded the papal observatory, as well as several colleges and seminaries, including the Gregorian University, and built the Quirinale Palace, for years the summer residence of Popes and now home to the president of Italy.

Pope Benedict XVI celebrates the Corpus Domini Mass

The procession between the two Roman basilicas began in the 1400’s. Its current itinerary began in 1575 when Pope Gregory XIII built the street that links the two churches and was originally named Via Gregorian, now called Via Merulana. This route was followed for more than 300 years until the procession fell into disuse until 1979 when St. John Paul revived the custom, He processed the distance on foot every year except 1981, after the attack on his life in St. Peter’s Square, and 1994 following hip surgery. Starting in 1995 he rode in an open, canopy-covered vehicle, seated before a small altar bearing the monstrance and host.

The feast of Corpus Christi is due in part to the visions of a 13th century Augustinian nun, Julianna of Lièges, known for her devotion to the Eucharist. In one vision, Our Lord appeared to her, reminding her there was no solemnity honoring the Blessed Sacrament and she began to promote such a feast. Pope Urban IV, who also wished to honor the Eucharist, wrote a Bull in 1264 in which he spoke of the love of Our Lord and Savior as expressed in the Holy Eucharist, ordering Corpus Christi to be celebrated annually on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday. Indulgences could be gained, he wrote, by attendance at Mass and reciting the Office composed at Urban’s request by St. Thomas Aquinas, which many say is the most beautiful office of the breviary.

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, about this same time in history – which was a period of infrequent communion – the elevation of the chalice and host came into being at Mass as well as placing the host in a monstrance for Eucharistic adoration. Corpus Christi is a moveable feast and in some countries is observed on the first Sunday following Trinity Sunday.

I am often asked: What is the difference between a solemnity and a feast day in the Church? Liturgy is, of course, the Church’s public worship and includes all rites and ceremonies by means of which the Church expresses her worship of God. The principal acts of liturgy that would immediately come to mind to all of us would be the seven sacraments, called sacramental liturgies.

There are also categories of liturgical days. The three technical categories are, in descending order: Solemnity, Feast and Memorial.

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, a feast is “technically, one category of liturgical day, a lesser rank than ‘solemnity’ and a higher rank than ‘memorial’. In popular usage, however, ‘feast’ is applied indiscriminately by the faithful to all liturgical days on which the Church commemorates a mystery of Our Lord or Our Lady, or keeps the memory of a saint.” Thus, these days mark an event in the life of Jesus or Mary or a saint. The Vatican is very careful to make the distinction between solemnity, feast or memorial: Corpus Christi is a solemnity.

Often the observance starts on the vigil, that is, the evening prior to the actual date. Many solemnities occur on fixed dates such as January 1 – Mother of God; January 6 – Epiphany; March 25 – the Annunciation; June 29 – Sts. Peter and Paul; August 15 – the Assumption; and December 8 – the Immaculate Conception. Others are movable dates: Easter, the Ascension, Pentecost and Corpus Christi.

A memorial refers to the so-called lowest type of feast found in the Church’s liturgical calendar. There is the obligatory memorial that must be celebrated and the optional memorial that is celebrated at Mass at the priest’s discretion. May 10th was, for example, an optional memorial of Saint Damien de Veuster of Molokai, the priest who treated lepers.