VACCINATION, ITALIAN STYLE – JOHN AND PETER RUNNING TO THE TOMB

Monday, April 5, 2021 – Pasquetta (“little Easter”), Easter Monday, Monday of the Angel

VACCINATION, ITALIAN STYLE

I had my second Moderna vaccination this afternoon at Spallanzani Hospital, Italy’s principal research center for infectious diseases, at….

This past week, the Vatican has been in the process of vaccinating 1200 homeless, poor and needy from Rome. Among the volunteers who helped administer vaccines in the atrium of the Paul VI Hall were health officials from Spallanzani.   In addition, the vaccines themselves were offered by Spallanzani. Today I brought a large number of holy cards with Pope Francis’ image to Spallanzani and gave them to the staff, telling them I had worked at the Vatican for years and I knew of the cooperation with the Vatican this past week and just wanted to say a personal “thank you.”

If you recall, after I had my first shot on March 8, International Womens’ Day, I posted a photo of the small, flower-shaped pin that all women vaccinated that morning at Spallananzi received. Since then, the mayor of Rome announced that, for those seniors who had to take a taxi to be vaccinated, the taxi ride would be free. I experienced that today with 3570, the taxi company I use 95 percent of the time in Rome. Taxi companies here are known by their (usually) four-digit phone numbers (3570, 6645, 5551 etc), not names.

Interestingly enough, whenever I dial 06 (Rome area code) 3570 from my land line, a voice answers, saying, “If you want a taxi immediately in…(and they say my address), press 1”!

Taxi drivers, like countless others, have been hard hit by coronavirus for over a year now, sometimes only working three days a week so I appreciated the gesture twice as much, and at least a nice tip was one way to say ‘grazie’. Seems the city was picking up the bill!

And here’s a great story of vaccinations in Venice: For those senior citizens living on two very small, hard-to-get-to islands, the vaccinations came to them! In fact, the city of Venice, for one day only, sent one of its vaporetto, the public water transportation boat/busses to each of the two islands in the lagoon, Sant’Erasmo and Le Vignole.

A health worker carrying out a vaccination on board the “vaporetto” (steamboat) of the Venice Municipal Transport Company, transformed into a mobile clinic for the anti-covid vaccination campaign, sailing to the island of Sant’Erasmo, in the lagoon north of Venice, Italy, April 5, 2021. ANSA / ANDREA MEROLA

JOHN AND PETER RUNNING TO THE TOMB

“John and Peter Running to the Tomb” by Swiss painter Eugène Burnand! This is my very favorite painting and not just at Easter! I have loved it for years, since I first saw a photo online. I fell in love with these depictions of John and Peter because, in my mind’s eye, so many decades ago, this is exactly how I had envisioned them!

In February 2013 I had the immense joy of seeing this work of art in person at the “Path to Peter” exhibit that was underway at Castelgandolfo, organized by the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization. It ran from early February to early May. I do not remember how long I stood in front of the painting, on loan from the Musée d’Orsay in Paris.

To be honest, I’d like to think that, had I been alive at the time, I’d have been right behind Peter and John!

John 20, 1-9

On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb.

2  So she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him.”

3. So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb.

4 They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and arrived at the tomb first;

5 He bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in.

6 When Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there,

7 and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place.

8 Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed.

9  For they did not yet understand the scripture that he had to rise from the dead.

 

MONDAY OF THE ANGEL, POPE RECITES REGINA COELI

Today is a national holiday in Italy and is known as Pasquetta, Little Easter, and also Monday of the Angel. As you will see, Pope Francis explains this expression at today’s Regina Coeli, the prayer that substitutes the Angelus from Easter Sunday to Pentecost.

Pasquetta is usually a day dedicated to family activities, big dinner or picnic gatherings and to people gathering St. Peter’s Square for the Pope’s Regina Coeli. However, today is the final day of a three-day red zone Easter lockdown which means just about everything you can think of is closed, and lots of things are banned, such as family picnics in city parks or beaches, and people gathering in St. Peter’s and other squares. etc. Churches, thank the Lord, have been open for months now and no new restrictions were imposed during Lent or the Easter vigil.

Today’s Regina Coeli reflections do not take much time to read and, as they are so beautiful and profound, I bring you the papal remarks almost in their entirety. He did adlib in a few places, saying some phrases were so important, we must repeat them.

After you read those reflections, you will absolutely want to watch this EWTN video posted in Instagram: EWTN on Instagram: “In a small museum just steps from the Vatican there is an incredible artifact – an original negative photographic plate, taken of the…”

MONDAY OF THE ANGEL, POPE RECITES REGINA COELI

Dear brothers and sisters, buongiorno!

The Monday after Easter is also called the Monday of the Angel because we recall the meeting of the angel with the women who arrived at Jesus’s tomb (see Mt 28:1-15). The angel said to them: “I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has risen (vv. 5-6). This expression “He has risen” goes beyond human capacity. Even the women who had gone to the tomb and had found it open and empty could not confirm “He has risen”, but only that the tomb was empty. Only an angel could say that Jesus had risen, just as only an angel had been able to say to Mary: “you will conceive son, [….] and he will be called the Son of the Most High” (Lk 1:31-32). (photo vaticannews)

Matthew the evangelist narrates that on Easter morning “there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone, and sat on it” (see v. 2). That large stone, that was supposed to be the seal of the victory of evil and death, was put underfoot, it becomes the footstool of the angel of the Lord. All of the plans and defenses of Jesus’s enemies and persecutors were in vain. The image of the angel sitting on the stone before the tomb is the concrete, visible manifestation of God’s victory over evil, of Christ’s victory over the prince of this world, of light over darkness. Jesus’ tomb was not opened by a physical phenomenon, but by the Lord’s intervention. The angel’s appearance, Matthew continues, “was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow. (v. 3). These details are symbols that confirm the intervention of God himself, bearer of a new era, of the last times of history.

There is a twofold reaction in beholding this intervention on God’s part. That of the guards who cannot face the overwhelming power of God and are shaken by an interior earthquake: they became like dead men (see v. 4). The power of the Resurrection overthrows those who had been used to guarantee the apparent victory of death. The women’s reaction is very different because they are expressly invited by the angel of the Lord not to be afraid– “Do not be afraid!” (v. 5) – and not to seek Jesus in the tomb.

We can reap a precious teaching from the angel’s words: we should never tire of seeking the risen Christ who gives life in abundance to those who meet him. To find Christ means to discover peace of heart. The same women of the Gospel, after initially being shaken, experience great joy in discovering the Master alive (see vv. 8-9). In this Easter Season, my wish is that everyone might have the same spiritual experience, welcoming in our hearts, in our homes and in our families the joyful proclamation of Easter: “Christ, having risen from the dead dies now no more; death will no longer have dominion over him” (Communion Antiphon).

This certainty moves us to pray today and throughout the Easter Season: “Regina Caeli, Laetare – Queen of Heaven, rejoice”. The angel Gabriel had greeted her thus the first time: “Rejoice, full of grace!” (see Lk 1:28). Now Mary’s joy is complete: Jesus lives, Love has conquered. May this be our joy as well!

GOOD FRIDAY: CAN WE HELP CHRIST CARRY HIS CROSS?

GOOD FRIDAY: CAN WE HELP CHRIST CARRY HIS CROSS?

Today is Good Friday 2021 and also the 16th anniversary of the death of the beloved Pope, Saint John Paul II.

Jesus carried that Cross and died for us. Could we not at least try to help Him carry His Cross?

I love the enormously powerful message of this image.

 

POPE VISITS HOMELESS, POOR AS THEY RECEIVE VACCINE

POPE VISITS HOMELESS, POOR AS THEY RECEIVE VACCINE

This morning, Good Friday, shortly before 10.00, Pope Francis went to the atrium of the Paul VI Hall as the vaccinations of some homeless people or people in difficulty were being carried out. They have been welomed to the Vatican in recent days and accompanied to the vaccination area by some Roman associations. The Holy Father Pope greeted the doctors and nurses, followed the procedure for preparing the vaccine doses and spoke to some of the people awaiting vaccination.

To date, about 800 of the approximately 1,200 people in need who will be given the vaccine this week have been vaccinated with the first dose.

Papal Almoner, Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, is on far left on photo of medical staff and volunteers (vaticannews photos).

LENTEN STATION CHURCHES, HOLY WEEK, WEDNESDAY: SANTA MARIA MAGGIORE

Today is the final day for our six-week pilgrimage to Rome’s Lenten Station churches that began on Ash Wednesday at Santa Sabina. I brought you most of these churches, although rarely on weekends, so you’ll have to pardon me that omission. If I can locate my “Joan’s Rome” video on today’s magnificent station church of St. Mary Major, I will add that to this post.

LENTEN STATION CHURCHES, HOLY WEEK, WEDNESDAY: SANTA MARIA MAGGIORE

(pnac.org) According to legend, a wealthy Roman had a dream on 4 August 352 in which he was directed by the Blessed Virgin Mary to construct a basilica on a site which she would reveal to him.  The following night, a snowfall took place on the Esquiline Hill, a truly miraculous event as anyone who has experienced a Roman August would know.

Pope Liberius (r. 352-356), a friend who had the same dream, initiated the construction of the first basilica, which stood in a location about one block in front of the present one.  Although it is unclear if this first basilica was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin from its foundation, the definition of our Lady as the Mother of God at the Council of Ephesus in 431 brought about a new flowering of devotion to her.

In this atmosphere, Sixtus III began to build a new basilica in her honor in a slightly different location.  It is this building that, while much modified, comes down to us today.  The basilica began to be known as St. Mary Major, the principal church in Rome dedicated to our Lady, in the seventh century, the same period in which the relics believed to be from the manger of Christ at Bethlehem were enshrined here.

Here are some photos I took on a visit to the sacristy at St. Mary Major:

Various minor changes took place over the next few centuries.  One of the more interesting of these concerns the decision of St. Paschal I in the early ninth century to raise the episcopal throne in the apse because, given its nearness to the then women’s area in the church, his private conversations could be overheard by them!  Later in that century a more serious event transpired when Adrian II approved Ss. Cyril and Methodius’ translation of the liturgy into Slavonic in this church.

The medieval period saw several changes here.  In 1291, a new chapel was created for the relics of the manger, known as the Chapel ad Praesepe.  Four years later, the rear wall and apse were demolished and a transept and new apse were built.  At the same time the new apse and the façade of the basilica were decorated with mosaics in the style of the day.

The late fourteenth century saw the addition of the campanile, the tallest in Rome, with the following century seeing the construction of several small chapels off of the aisles.  Pope Alexander VI, archpriest of the basilica before his election to the papacy, installed a new ceiling at the end of the fifteenth century.  St. Charles Borromeo was archpriest here from 1564 to 1572 and undertook some renovations in the choir.  In 1587, the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament, also known as the Sistine Chapel because of its patron, Sixtus V, was completed.  Into it was also put the Praesepe Chapel, set into the floor beneath the altar.

On the other side of the basilica the Our Lady Chapel was completed in 1611 under Pope Paul V of the Borghese family, whose name is also found on the façade of St. Peter’s.  In 1673 the exterior of the apse was decorated in the Baroque style, with the other exterior surfaces of the basilica receiving a similar treatment under Pope Benedict XIV about seventy years later.  Thankfully, these preserved much of the mosaic work on the façade.  The confessio before the high altar was built between 1861 and 1864 to house the relics of the manger.  Despite this long history of renovations and renewals, the interior of the basilica still preserves its original spirit.

Standing in the square before the basilica today, a couple of things draw our interest before we enter the church itself.  The first of these is the Marian Column in the center of the square.  The column is originally from the Basilica of Maxentius in the Roman Forum.  This is the inspiration for the many Marian columns that can be found in various cities throughout Europe.

The second point of interest here are the mosaics on the old façade of the basilica, currently protected behind the columns of the eighteenth century loggia.  They depict Christ attended by angels, in the heavenly liturgy, and scenes from the legend of the basilica’s foundation.  These mosaics served as the apse for liturgies celebrated in the piazza. (Address: Piazza di Santa Maria Maggiore)

 

VATICAN INSIDER EXPLORES THE HOLY SHROUD OF TURIN – PAPAL CATECHESIS ON HOLY TRIDUUM, EASTER SUNDAY – VACCINES ADMINISTERED IN VATICAN TO POOR, HOMELESS

Holy Thursday and Good Fridays are days off for EWTN staff so that we may participate in Triduum and Easter weekend liturgies. I’ll be in and out but check in to this page and to my Facebook page (facebook.com/joan.lewis.10420) in coming days.

VATICAN INSIDER EXPLORES THE HOLY SHROUD OF TURIN

On Vatican Insider this Easter weekend, in what is normally the interview segment, I offer Part II of a Special I’ve prepared called “Who is the Man of the Shroud?” This is a reference, of course, to the celebrated Shroud housed in Turin, Italy that bears the image of a crucified man and has been venerated for centuries as Christ’s burial cloth.

I look at the history of this linen cloth, its provenance and travels and how it arrived in Turin from the Holy Land. I speak of the first photographic image of this cloth, a reverse negative, and I look at all the scientific studies done over a century to study the fabric and the image on it and to date it. Is it from the time of Jesus? Is Jesus the Man of the Shroud?

ALERT: On Holy Saturday the Shroud of Turin will be exposed for veneration on social media and websites according to Archbishop Cesare Nosiglia of Turin. He will preside over a liturgy that will be live-streamed from the chapel of the Turin cathedral where the Shroud is kept in a climate-controlled vault. The shroud was previously displayed over the Internet on Holy Saturday 2020 during Italy’s national lockdown. That event is scheduled to last one hour and will start at 5 pm, Italy time (11 am East Coast, US).

You can follow that on EWTN television. Vaticannews will offer live streaming on its news portal.

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: go to https://www.ewtn.com/radio/audio-archive and write the name of the guest for whom you are serarching in the SEARCH box. Below that, will appear “Vatican Insider” – click on that and the link to that particular episode will appear.

PAPAL CATECHESIS ON HOLY TRIDUUM, EASTER SUNDAY

At today’s live-streamed general audience, Pope Francis focused his catechesis on Holy Week, the central days of the Liturgical year.

He said, “tomorrow, we begin the Easter Triduum and our celebration of the saving mystery of Christ’s passion, death and resurrection. On Holy Thursday, in the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, we commemorate Christ’s washing the disciples’ feet, his new commandment of love, and his institution of the Eucharist as the abiding memorial of the sacrifice of his body and blood for the salvation of all.

“On Good Friday,” continued the Holy Father, “we celebrate Jesus’ redemptive sufferings and death through the solemn reading of the Passion, the Universal Prayer offered for the needs of the Church and the world, and the veneration of the wood of the cross. In this way, we bring before the crucified Lord our suffering brothers and sisters, and all victims of war, violence and injustice.

Francis explained that, “on Holy Saturday, a day of profound silence, we join Mary in her sorrow at her Son’s death, and her trusting expectation of the fulfilment of God’s promises.

“At the Easter Vigil,” concluded the Pope, “the light of the paschal candle and solemn chant of the Alleluia joyfully announce Christ’s victory over sin and death. In this time of pandemic, may our celebration of the paschal mystery proclaim the cross of Christ as a light shining in the darkness and an enduring sign of hope in God’s promise of new life.”

VACCINES ADMINISTERED IN VATICAN TO POOR, HOMELESS

If you recall, last Friday, March 26, Vaticannews reported that, “as the world continues to adopt measures to combat the ongoing health emergency, the Office of Papal Charities, in response to Pope Francis’s numerous appeals that no one be excluded from receiving the Covid-19 vaccines, is taking action to accompany the most vulnerable. Thus, during Holy Week, 1200 of the poorest and most marginalized people will have the opportunity of getting vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine – the same vaccine administered to the Pope and the employees of the Holy See.

“The vaccines will be administered in a specially designed facility inside the Paul VI Hall in the Vatican. The medical doctors and health workers involved in the process include volunteers who work in the “Madre di Misericordia” mobile health clinic located under the Bernini colonnade, employees of the Vatican’s Directorate of Health and Hygiene, as well as volunteers from the Medicina Solidale Institute and Rome’s Spallanzani Hospital.”

Today, the Holy See Press Office said, “This afternoon the first dose of the vaccine was administered to a group of more than 100 people housed in the dormitory of the Missionaries of Charity of San Gregorio al Celio and residing in other Roman structures. Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, papal almoner, was present to welcome them in the Paul VI Hall. In the next few days, other groups of people will receive the vaccination, accompanied by volunteers from the Community of Sant’Egidio, the Roman Caritas, the Missionaries of Charity and other associations.”

PALM SUNDAY: THE STORY OF A SAILOR, AN OBELISK AND A PAPAL PROMISE

And now, for one of my favorite stories, an annual post on this page….

PALM SUNDAY: THE STORY OF A SAILOR, AN OBELISK AND A PAPAL PROMISE

It is time once again to tell you the marvelous story of how a sailor from Liguria saved an obelisk from falling and extracted a papal promise for an honor for his native city.

In 1586, Pope Sixtus V, wanting to complete the design of St. Peter’s Square, ordered architect Domenico Fontana to place in the center of the square a giant Egyptian obelisk that had been brought to Rome in 39 A.D. by Emperor Caligula. For centuries it has been in the emperor’s circus in what today is Vatican City, and moving the obelisk from that point to the center of St. Peter’s Square would be a Herculean task.

The obelisk had been in the Vatican gardens, near the first Constantinian basilica (dedicated in 326), and had lain there, forgotten, for many years under layers of mud and stagnant water. Giacomo della Porta was asked by Sixtus V to recover the obelisk and, struck by its majestic beauty, the Pope asked that engineers study a project to raise the obelisk in St. Peter’s Square.

On September 10, the day the 85-foot high, 350-ton obelisk was transported by 900 workers, 140 horses and 44 winches, Benedetto Bresca, a ship’s captain from the Italian Riviera area of San Remo-Bordighera, was in the square. (photo: romewise.com)

The head engineer had told Pope Sixtus that total silence was needed to raise the obelisk, once it was in the square. Thus, the Pope announced to the huge crowd that had assembled to watch the manoeuver that anyone who spoke during the delicate and risky operation would face very severe penalties (some stories say excommunication was a penalty!).

As work was underway, the ropes used to raise the obelisk gave signs of fraying and weakening and the obelisk itself began to sway. However, Benedetto, as a sailor, knew what the problem was and how to solve it and so, notwithstanding the pontiff’s ultimatum, he shouted “water on the cords, water on the cords.” The head engineer realized the sailor was right, the cords were watered, they became taut and strong and the obelisk was raised, without further danger to anyone.

Instead of punishing the audacious sailor, Pope Sixtus rewarded Benedetto by giving him and his descendants the privilege of providing the Vatican with the famous Ligurian palms used for Holy Week ceremonies in the Vatican. And so it has been for over four centuries, with only a few brief interruptions. (photos riviera24.it)

Known as parmureli, the leaves from date palm trees in San Remo and Bordighera are woven and braided into intricate sculptures, some only inches high, while others are perhaps two meters high. Some years, more than 200 of the six-foot high parmureli are sent to the Vatican from Liguria for Palm Sunday – for the Pope, cardinals, archbishops, etc. (vaticannews.va)

 

LENTEN STATION CHURCHES, HOLY WEEK MONDAY: SANTA PRASSEDE – LENTEN STATION CHURCHES, HOLY WEEK, TUESDAY: SANTA PRISCA

I spent so much time on yesterday’s story about Masses in St. Peter’s Basilica that I did forget to post the station church of the day so now I am doing double duty, station churches of Monday and Tuesday of Holy Week. Tomorrow, Wednesday is the final Rome Lenten Station church because the next day, Thursday we enter the Triduum of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday.

LENTEN STATION CHURCHES, HOLY WEEK MONDAY: SANTA PRASSEDE

(pnac.org) – Traditionally held to be the sister of St. Pudenziana, St. Praxedes joined her in collecting the mortal remains of the martyrs after their sufferings.  It is believed that both she and her sister faced martyrdom as well, although details are scant.  A titulis named after her is recorded in the late fifth century, although this likely existed even earlier.

The titulis was first based in an apartment block in a nearby location.  In the early ninth century, Pope St. Paschal I replaced this with the current church, in order to provide a more fitting place for worship.  Continuing the devotion to the martyrs shown by the patroness of this church, the same pope brought the relics of 2,300 martyrs from the catacombs to be laid to rest here.

In about the year 1080, an altar was built in the crypt.  In a side chapel there is a column said to have been brought here in 1223 from Constantinople during the Latin occupation of that city.  It is traditionally believed to be the column on which the flagellation of Christ took place.  Around the turn of the fourteenth century, structural problems in the church necessitated the construction of three large arches across the nave as means of strengthening the building.  The church was restored under Pope Nicholas IV in the mid-fifteenth century,

St. Charles Borromeo, the cardinal titular here in the late sixteenth century, undertook a great deal of work.  The great archbishop of Milan not only took care to improve the physical structure of the church, but also to minister to the people of the area, going so far as to invite the poor to eat at his table.  His works to the church structure included blocking off the transept and creating a new area for the choir in its place.  The baroque renovations continued under the next titular, Alessandro Medici, later Pope Leo XI, who also commissioned the frescoes in the nave.

In 1730, a new ciborium and high altar were installed, and the crypt was renovated.  Since then there have been no major changes to the structure, although the façade of the church was restored to its medieval appearance in 1937. (Address: via Santa Prassede, 9A)

LENTEN STATION CHURCHES, HOLY WEEK, TUESDAY: SANTA PRISCA

(pnac.org) – Today we ascend the Aventine hill by the same road trod almost forty days ago as we now approach one of the final Lenten stations.  Down a small road stands the little church of St. Prisca, as unpretentious in its appearance as it is rich in its history.  The Prisca of the dedication is traditionally held to have been the Prisca greeted along with Aquila by St. Paul in Romans 16:3.

A tradition also relates that St. Peter stayed here for a time.  Support for this tradition may be found in archeological discoveries that show members of the Pudens family living nearby, possibly indicating a link to the Pudens of St. Pudentiana.  The church structure, particularly at the sanctuary end, incorporates some Roman structures dating from as far back as the second century after Christ.

The first mention of a titulis here comes from the fifth century, at which time it already bore the name of Prisca.  Not much is known about the development of this church in the first millenium, other than it’s being a relatively small oratory for at least the later part of that period.

In 1104-1105, Walo, the bishop of Paris, sponsored the building of a larger structure to replace this.  In 1455, Pope Callistus III initiated needed repairs after a fire, even replacing one of the walls.  In the early 17th century the church was remodeled, including shortening the nave and rebuilding the current façade.  A century later, the interior was renovated in a more contemporary style.

When the French occupation of the city began in 1798, the church was abandoned, but restored in the 1820s.  In 1938, excavations began beneath the church that discovered a Mithraic temple from the second century. (Address: via Santa Prisca, 11) (photo tertullian.org)

 

A FAREWELL TO TRADITION: THE BAN ON MASSES IN ST. PETER’S

A FAREWELL TO TRADITION: THE BAN ON MASSES IN ST. PETER’S

Today, after 17 days of silence, the Vatican, via the Holy See Press Office, finally spoke on the March 12 ruling from the Secretariat of State that, among other things, banned the celebration by priests of individual Masses, that is, without faithful present, at all but two of the 47 altars in St. Peter’s Basilica.

The two altars in the main body of the basilica where priests – but only with other priests and/or faithful – may celebrate Mass are the Altar of the Chair and the altar of the Chapel of the Choir. Both altars allow the celebrant to face the faithful. The altars of other side chapels do not allow this.

Mass in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite may only be celebrated in restricted morning hours in one chapel in the grottoes of the basilica: the Clementine Chapel. This is the most requested of all grotto area or crypt chapels but also the smallest.

Of the four Masses celebrated daily at the Altar of St. Joseph, only two remain, the 10 and 11 am Masses.

Here are some photos that Ed Pentin posted on his twitter account of a basilica that seems more a museum than a church:

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Here is today’s terse press release, although we still have absolutely no idea why the enormous restrictions were issued or who is behind them, who issued them and who signed off on them:

“With the promulgation of the Statute of the Reverend Fabbrica di San Pietro, the assignment of both His Excellency Mons. Mario Giordana, Nunzio Apostolic,as Extraordinary Commissioner of the Fabbrica, and the Commission that assisted him in this task ends. In these nine months, in addition to preparing the new rules, they dedicated themselves to the reorganization of the administrative offices and Fabbrica technicians. The application of the new Statute will be up to His Eminence Cardinal Mauro Gambetti, who will begin his office as Archpriest of the Basilica starting this Holy Week.”

Several things:

I have a feeling that Cardinal Gambetti might wish he was back in Umbria! Cardinal Gambetti, a Friar Minor Conventual, was the custos of the Convent of St. Francis of Assiss from 2013 to late 2020. In that period, the bishop of Assisi also put him in charge of the pastoral care of the basilica of St. Francis.

The “Fabbica” of St. Peter’s is an institution that is responsible for the care and maintenance of the basilica. Centuries ago, as the basilica was being constructed, fabbrica referred to the central site where tools and materials were stored, where designs were made and where the workmen met to discuss the building plans.

I did a search on both the Vatican News portal (vaticannews.va) and Google to find “promulgation of the Statute of the Reverend Fabbrica di San Pietro,”and could not find this, unless it refers to the edict issued on March 12. In fact, the March 12 document is nowhere to be seen on the Vatican news website. If I’ve missed it, let me know.

Here is my first piece on the March 12 decree on Masses in St. Peter’s Basilica: 14 | March | 2021 | Joan’s Rome (wordpress.com)

In that March 14 Joan’s Rome column, you read about the objections to the March 12 ban on individual Masses in St. Peter’s Basilica expressed by Cardinals Gerhard Mueller and Raymond Burke.

Here us what retired Cardinal Brandmueller has to say on the matter: Third cardinal publicly opposes Vatican letter banning private Masses at St. Peter’s basilica | Blogs | LifeSite (lifesitenews.com)   And another link to his thoughts: Cardinal Brandmüller: Mass Ban In St Peter VOID – gloria.tv

Now, read what Cardinal Sarah, just retired head of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of Sacraments, says on this question! Exclusive. Cardinal Sarah Asks the Pope to Lift the Ban on “Individual” Masses at St. Peter’s – Settimo Cielo – Blog – L’Espresso (repubblica.it)

I am enormously saddened by this entire matter! I am sad for the scores and scores (far more than that, actually) of priests whom I know who celebrated such Masses and remember them only as joyous moments in their priesthood, and they’ll never have that joy again.

I am mostly saddened because this came as a thunderbolt out of the blue. No reasons given. No explanations. No questions answered.

Will the myriad of  “dubia” raised since March 12 go unanswered? Past cases of unanswered dubia are not encouraging.

MOTHER ANGELICA, A WORKER OF TRUTH IN THE VINEYARD OF THE LORD

Yesterday afternoon, March 27, the fifth anniversary of the death of Mother Angelica on Easter Sunday in 2016, Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Grand Master of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre, celebrated Mass for EWTN’s Rome bureau staff in the Chapel of the Choir of St. Peter’s Basilica. Below is his wonderful homily as well as photos taken by EWTN staff.

MOTHER ANGELICA, A WORKER OF TRUTH IN THE VINEYARD OF THE LORD

It was Easter Sunday (March 27, 2016), when Mother Angelica was ending her journey among us. Today, we are recalling her on the fifth anniversary of her death through our prayers and through this Eucharistic celebration; we do this with affection and esteem.

Mother Angelica’s tomb at the shrine in Hanceville, Alabama:

She crossed the whole 20th century facing poverties and sufferings, which were constant friends in her life until the end; at the same time, she experienced the consolation of Jesus and the constant help of Divine Providence; she could not do what she did alone. In a thick and, sometimes, black «wood» of our world, the finger of God was guiding her: “I knew that God knew me and loved me and he was interested to me. All I would like to do – she said after a serious sickness – was to donate myself to Jesus”.

She understood her vocation during a time of prayer, it was an evening of 1944, and became a nun. For more than 60 years, she was Mother Angelica of the Annunciation. I do not know whether, assuming the name of «Annunciation», she had the perception of her future mission in the communications field. The Archangel Gabriel was an «annunciator» and the Good News came into our humanity; so let us think about a certain analogy.

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Becoming rich in many experiences, in contemplative life, in missionary accomplishments and pastoral initiatives, Mother Angelica, with her extraordinary creative capacities, generates the non-profit society EWTN, a broadcasting group linked to civil and religious life. Spreading the Gospel in our society was the high finality of EWTN, with style and adherence to the truth: “The truth will set you free” (Jo 8: 32); the «Truth» is Jesus: ‘I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’ (Jo 14:6). These words were always clear in Mother Angelica’s mind and heart.

Mother Angelica was close to Pope John Paul II; she got the high esteem of Benedict XVI and the consideration of Pope Francis; the more and more she got, the gratitude of the whole Church and especially of the affectionate audience that maintains a link with EWTN.

If we could consider EWTN Mother Angelica’s first ‘daughter’, it has not been the only offspring of the ‘family’, enriched by the National Catholic Register, Catholic News Agency and so on.

What is very important to you, dear friends, is the confidence of your listeners, readers and viewers: please, always have high respect for them; you can generate life, hope, confidence, love.   “No one ever spoke like this man” (Jo 7: 46), were the words of the followers of Jesus and his adversaries. Let me think about EWTN in the same way.   These words could be a vision, a program and an aim in your activities! You have a mission: to bring to the families a good word of fidelity and mercy into the families. Ezekiel, the prophet of hope, gave us in today first Reading this beautiful thought: “Then the nations will know that I the Lord sanctifies them, when my sanctuary is among them forever” (Ez 37, 28).

It is necessary to build the sanctuary of the Lord among the peoples, in the families, in society, and nobody can do it better than a broadcasting network, able to enter beyond every door, many times closed; a sanctuary not made by material bricks, but by truth and love.

Remembering today Mother Angelica, we like to find a dart of fidelity to Christ, “the Light of nations” (LG 1), and to his Church, being “like a sacrament or a sign and instrument” (ib.) of God among us.

Finally, let us be reminded here of a few words of Pope Benedict the XVI when he started his pontificate: It is sufficient for me to be a simple worker in the vineyard of the Lord!

This is my wish to you, at the vigil of the Holy Week: Be good workers in the vineyard of the Lord!

Thank you for your generous and appreciated work for the Church.

Mother Angelica, I am sure, she is happy.