EASTER MONDAY: POPE URGES CHRISTIANS TO BUILD FRATERNITY – THE REGINA COELI PRAYER

As promised by the weatherman, it snowed today, Easter Monday, in New York City – beautiful but not lasting or treacherous. The temp really dropped overnight for this to happen but it seems we have been promised slightly warmer days ahead, though probably some rain. I have been here since Holy Thursday and we’ve had everything except a heat wave! Maybe I should be careful what I write!

My days have been filled with liturgies of the Easter Triduum at St. Patrick’s cathedral, as well as lovely visits and shared meals with a handful of the many friends I have in NYC.

Easter Mass at St, Patrick’s was splendid, as the Mass of the Resurrection should be! Two of my best friends, Peter and Blanche, had tickets for the 10:15 Mass with Cardinal Timothy Dolan, a man we have all known for a number of years. Sitting in the front row was quiet special, as was being welcomed into the cardinal’s home with a number of other close friends after the Eucharistic celebration.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral –

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I was very privileged later to share Easter lunch with Cardinal Dolan, five priests from the archdiocese, including his secretary (another longtime friend) Sr. Rosaria, a delightful Irish nun and luncheon companion who has known the cardinal for decades, Fr. Jonathan Morris (whom many of you might know from his appearances on FoxNews) and Bill Hemmer of FoxNews. A scrumptious meal but the best food was that for the soul – the conversation and gales of laughter!

Easter Sunday Mass –

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Note that the ushers wear tails (on special days, I presume) –

AFTER MASS – So, Your Eminence, I have a question….

EASTER MONDAY: POPE URGES CHRISTIANS TO BUILD FRATERNITY

By Robin Gomes (vaticannews.va)

Pope Francis on Monday urged Christians to build fraternity, saying only fraternity can guarantee lasting peace, defeat poverty, extinguish tensions and wars, and eradicate corruption and crime. Speaking to thousands of pilgrims and faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the noon Regina Coeli prayer, the Pope said fraternity lived by the first Christians is also needed today.

“He is risen” – shocking

Easter Monday, which is celebrated as ‘Pasquetta’ or ‘Little Easter’ holiday in Italy, is also called “Monday of the Angel,” after the Gospel episode of the angel in the empty tomb of Jesus. The Pope said that the words “He is risen,” spoken by the angel to the women, could be uttered only by “a superior being to communicate a reality so shocking, so incredible, that perhaps no man would dare to pronounce it.” The community of disciples later began to repeat it.

Fraternity builds common good, social justice

Pope Francis noted that after Easter, on Monday of the Angel, we feel the need to reunite and celebrate with our loved ones and friends. By rising again from death, the Pope explained, Jesus broke down the wall of division between men, restored peace, and began weaving the fabric of a new fraternity. The Holy Father underscored the importance of rediscovering fraternity in our time, just as it was lived in the early Christian communities.

The Pope said, “There cannot be a true communion and a commitment to the common good and social justice without fraternity and sharing.” “Without fraternal sharing, an authentic ecclesial or civil community cannot be created: there can only be a group of individuals motivated by their own interests,” the Pope warned.

Dialogue and relationship

The Resurrection of Christ, the Pope said, has made the novelty of dialogue and of the relationship explode in the world, a novelty that has become “a responsibility for Christians”. He recalled Jesus telling that the world would come know they were his disciples from their love for one another.

This is why, the Pope explained, we cannot close ourselves in our privacy, in our group, but we are called to take care of the common good, to take care of our brothers, especially the weakest and most marginalized. Only fraternity, the Pope stressed, can guarantee lasting peace, defeat poverty, extinguish tensions and wars, and can eradicate corruption and crime.

The Pope concluded urging all to implore the Virgin Mary help all make fraternity and communion their lifestyle and the soul of their relationships.

Witnesses of peace

After reciting the Regina Coeli prayer and imparting his blessing, Pope Francis greeted various groups from Italy and around the world present in the square. He exhorted them to be witnesses of the peace of the risen Lord especially to the “most fragile and disadvantaged” people. In this regard, he reminded them about the World Autism Awareness Day observed on April 2.

The Holy Father also invoked peace on the entire world, especially on populations suffering because of ongoing conflicts. He renewed his appeal for those kidnapped or unjustly denied their liberty, that they be released and be allowed to return to their homes.

THE REGINA COELI PRAYER

The Easter prayer Regina Coeli (“Queen of Heaven” in Latin) is a tribute to the Lord’s resurrection and to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Authorship of the prayer is unknown but it can be traced back to the 12th century and was used by Franciscans after Compline (night prayer) in the first half of the 13th century. The prayer is one of four antiphons (short liturgical texts sung or chanted dedicated to the Mother of the Lord. It is often sung as a hymn and has had numerous musical settings in its original Latin text, including several by Mozart. Traditionally, it is prayed standing, often at noon, in place of the Angelus during the Easter Season from Holy Saturday until Pentecost. For that reason, the Pope’s window addresses during the Easter Season are referred to as “Regina Coeli” Addresses.

Latin Text:

℣. Regina cæli, lætare, alleluia:
℟. Quia quem meruisti portare, alleluia,
℣. Resurrexit, sicut dixit, alleluia,
℟. Ora pro nobis Deum, alleluia.
℣. Gaude et lætare, Virgo Maria, alleluia.
℟. Quia surrexit Dominus vere, alleluia.

℣. Oremus:
Deus, qui per resurrectionem Filii tui, Domini nostri Iesu Christi,
mundum lætificare dignatus es:
præsta, quæsumus, ut per eius Genitricem Virginem Mariam,
perpetuæ capiamus gaudia vitæ.
Per eundem Christum Dominum nostrum.
℟. Amen.

English version:

Queen of Heaven, rejoice, alleluia.
For He whom you did merit to bear, alleluia.
Has risen, as he said, alleluia.
Pray for us to God, alleluia.
Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, alleluia.
For the Lord has truly risen, alleluia.

Let us pray.
O God, who gave joy to the world through the resurrection
of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ,
grant we beseech you,
that through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, His Mother,
we may obtain the joys of everlasting life.
Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

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APRIL 2: A DAY, A MAN, A LIFE TO REMEMBER – APRIL 1, 2005: THE VIGIL SEEN AROUND THE WORLD

As I write in the second story I post here, St. John Paul II was a larger-than-life presence in my personal, professional and spiritual life. Thus, today, the 13th anniversary of his death, I wish to remember him, to commemorate this man whom so many call John Paul the Great by looking back – a glance back at what I felt and saw in his final days, accompanied by the words of some of the many people who wrote me in that time. The letters I post here are the proverbial ‘drop in a bucket’ of what I actually received.

A photo I took at the canonization –

Today, Easter Monday, April 2, 2018 – specifically this evening at 9:37 – marks the 13th anniversary of the death of Saint John Paul II. Those thirteen years at times seem very short and, at other times, very long. After all, we are in the second papacy since John Paul’s death, following eight years of our beloved Benedict XVI, and now Pope Francis, entering his sixth year.


When I woke this morning, I reflected back on that cool April day in 2005, remembering with a vividness beyond telling how I spent the last days, the last hours of the Pope’s life. In fact, it’s as if it had happened just hours ago. After all, there are days, moments, perhaps even seconds, in one’s life that are so unique, so strongly seared into our hearts, minds and souls, that they truly are unforgettable.

I mentioned some of this in a column I wrote recalling the vigil, then the death of John Paul and featuring two of the many emails I wrote at the time – one to a niece, the other to a priest friend, that expressed my emotions and what I was witnessing (SEE BELOW). I went back to the files I have from April 2005, most notably email exchanges with family and friends, and today offer a very, very small number of the tsunami of emails I received:

From my niece Susan:
Hi again, I was just thinking…how lucky Grandpa is! He gets to meet the Pope now! And now when it is our time to go home, we will be greeted by both great men… Love and hugs…Susan

From my friend Laurie in Rome:
Dear, dear Joan,
I know how close he is to your heart! I can only imagine the loss. But, it seems to me that it is a time to rejoice! Few have lived lives better than this man. He has poured himself out for the good of others, for the good of the Church, and he is about to win the crown of victory! What a wonderful gift the Lord has given us in JPII! I spent the day in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel at St. Peter’s, which was packed full from noon on. It was very prayerful and calm and not at all sad. Santo Spirito (church) was also packed (went for Divine Mercy.). I stayed in the Square until after the Rosary, but had to come home because I wasn’t dressed for the cold. I noticed that as many people were entering the Square as were leaving it! Most of those arriving at that hour were young people. I saw groups of young people with flags, boxes of votive candles and other supplies to spend the night with their Holy Father. You can be assured that you are in my prayers! I’ve actually been carrying my cell phone: … I would be happy to help in any way … I could pick up lunch! But most of all, I will pray. Hang in there! The Holy Father needs you!

From a friend in the U.S.:
A bright light went out in the world tonight but that bright light’s glow will shine in our hearts forever.

From Msgr D:
Dear Joan,
Please accept my sympathy on the loss of your Bishop, the Bishop of Rome, and our Holy Father, a great and holy man. While we mourn his loss to us, we rejoice that he now with the Saints in the abode of the Holy Trinity. Let us pray for him and our Church. We pray that, like the Apostles, he guides us still.

From Fred and Debbie,
Joan,
We love you and wish we were there to give you a big hug. We too are shedding tears for this Holy man who now is an intercessor for us in heaven.
I am assured God sits on your shoulder today for all your efforts for His Church. God bless you and our Church and the successor of Giovanni Paolo II!
Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam,

From Ann:
Dear Joanie:
….and so he went to his God, uttering Amen. It is truly the end of an era and how I will miss him. His utter kindness and gentle manner, coupled with his strength both physical, in his early Papacy, and later in his illnesses and suffering…what an example of dying with dignity. I particularly loved his love of children, the sick, his quick humor, his loyalty to the country of his birth and, of course, his deep and abiding Faith. I think of you, who knew him well and I offer my deepest sympathy. I know you feel as I do that he is now where we are all striving to end but on a day-to-day basis, you will, I am sure, miss him deeply. I”ve been crying on and off all day, but the rational “me” knows he is now at peace. There is no doubt in my mind that that soul is in heaven, no doubt at all. the angels took him, the Blessed Mother met him and her Son received him……Amen.

APRIL 1, 2005: THE VIGIL SEEN AROUND THE WORLD

Following are some of my reflections on the 10th anniversary of John Paul’s death. Included are photos I took on April 1, 2005, the night that turned out to be the vigil of John Paul’s death:

Having worked for the Vatican for so many years during his pontificate, and having met John Paul on at least 15 occasions, including Mass in his private chapel on three occasions, he was a larger-than-life presence in my personal, professional and spiritual life.

Thus, there is one week in April 2005 that I will never forget, and perhaps even a few days before that during Holy Week when it did seem apparent that we would not have John Paul the Great with us for much longer.

Two days, two anniversaries, come starkly to the forefront of my memories each year. I will never, ever forget April 1, the vigil of John Paul’s death, and then the following day and night, the vigil of Divine Mercy Sunday, a feast he instituted, when he died at 9:37 pm.

The vigil, if you will, probably began March 30th when rumors of the Pope’s demise that very day began to circulate. His last appearance at the window of his study was heartbreaking: John Paul could not speak because of the tracheotomy he had had and his frustration was evident – as was the quickly declining state of health to all who had eyes to see.

Hours were long at work (I was at the Vatican Information Service, a office within the Holy See Press Office) because we were, even if not openly admitting it at first, on a death watch. Medical bulletins and other matters came to my desk for translation so that the press office could hand the world’s media bulletins in English as well as Italian. Spanish also became available but English was the main language (the first or second language) of most the world’s media.

There had been many such medical bulletins over the months, especially when John Paul was admitted several times to Gemelli hospital and most especially when he had the tracheotomy. On his last ride home from the hospital, the van he was in passed by my building and I did take a photo —not available now as it is in my external hard drive in Rome.

CLICK HERE TO CONTINUE: https://joansrome.wordpress.com/2015/04/01/april-1-2005-the-vigil-seen-around-the-world/

FRANCIS VISITS POPE EMERITUS BENEDICT XVI – PASCHAL TRIDUUM IS CENTER OF OUR FAITH AND VOCATION – FROM THE PASSION TO PENTECOST AND BEYOND, CHRIST’S MISSIONARIES OF HIS WORD

I learned something new and interesting a few years ago when a priest friend, having read my column about Holy Week in Rome, asked me if I knew what the other name was for Wednesday of Holy Week. I did not know and looked it up and learned the answer was Spy Wednesday.

As I looked it up in the EWTN Q&A area, I found this from Father John Echert: “Spy Wednesday is the name given to Wednesday of Holy Week, marking the fact that on this day, Judas agreed with Jewish officials to betray our Lord, for the price of 30 pieces of silver. And while we do not give much attention to this in our own Country, in Poland there is a tradition by which an effigy of Judas is cast down from a height, dragged through the streets while being stoned, and then “drown” in a river or pond.”

This column will be silent for a few days as I celebrate Holy Week liturgies in New York, arriving in the Big Apple early afternoon tomorrow. However, I’ll be back on these pages after Easter. EWTN allows its staff time off during these days so that we can participate in Holy Week liturgies.

I hope you all have a beautiful and Blessed Easter and that you feel renewed in your spiritual life and in your knowledge of God’s love for you!

Just a quick note: No guest this weekend in the interview segment of VATICAN INSIDER. Rather, I bring you a special that is about facts and figures, monuments and moments, things to see and do, places to visit in and around the Vatican. Some fun trivia as well!

FRANCIS VISITS POPE EMERITUS BENEDICT XVI

Tuesday afternoon, Pope Francis met Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI at his Mater Ecclesiae Monastery residence in the Vatican and offered him best wishes for Easter.


Earlier Tuesday, he visited the Vatican Secretariat of State where some 300 persons are employed. In particular, he visited and blessed the offices of the new Third Section, which was set up in November for the diplomatic personnel of the Holy See. He then personally greeted all the officials and employees, wishing them Happy Easter and thanking them for their work. The last time Pope Francis met the officials and staff of the Secretariat was in April 2013.

PASCHAL TRIDUUM IS CENTER OF OUR FAITH AND VOCATION

The Holy Father presided at the weekly general audience today in St. Peter’s Square and dedicated his catechesis to the upcoming Easter celebrations. “Tomorrow,” he said, “begins the Church’s celebration of the Paschal Triduum, in which we re-live the great mystery of the Lord’s death and resurrection. It is thus the center of our faith and vocation.”

The Triduum – meaning “three days” – begins with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday evening and ends on Easter Sunday. The Holy Father said Christians are called to live the mystery of Jesus’ death and resurrection as “the matrix of their personal and communitarian lives.”

“Dear brothers and sisters,” began Francis. “The Gospel message that Jesus died for our sins and rose to new life is a source of joy and hope for all the world. At the same time, it is a summons to our responsibility and mission as the Lord’s followers to proclaim the victory of the Risen Jesus by our lives.

Francis explained that, “in Baptism, we were given a share in Christ’s passover from death to life. Each of us has been called to live fully this new life in union with him and in imitation of his loving concern for the least of our brothers and sisters. In the poor, the suffering, the lonely and all those in need, we are asked to see the face of Jesus, and to become, in him, a means of redemption and hope, life and resurrection for our world.”

The Holy Father prayed, “May Mary, who knew both the sufferings of the cross and the joy of the resurrection, obtain for us the grace to be united ever more fully to the Risen Lord and to reflect in our lives the reconciling and transforming power of his divine love.

In language greetings after the catechesis in Italian and summaries in seven languages, the Pope said, “I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s audience, particularly those from England, Ireland, Finland, the Netherlands, Ghana, South Africa, Australia, Japan, Indonesia, the Philippines and the United States of America. I offer a special greeting to the delegates taking part in the Seminar organized by the Vatican Observatory in preparation for the forthcoming UNISPACE+50 Conference. May this Holy Week lead all of us to celebrate the resurrection of the Lord Jesus with hearts purified and renewed by the grace of the Holy Spirit. God bless you!”

Click here and scroll down to see Vatican media images from today’s general audience:
https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2018-03/pope-general-audience-easter-triduum-catechesis.html

FROM THE PASSION TO PENTECOST AND BEYOND, CHRIST’S MISSIONARIES OF HIS WORD

Following is the homily given yesterday afternoon by Cardinal Edwin O’Brien in St. Peter’s basilica at the Mass marking the second anniversary of the death of Mother Angelica.

He offered some reflections on Holy Week, starting with the sadness of the betrayal of Jesus by Judas, and, noting that, “In every age and culture Christ’s disciples have preached the word, often at critical times for his Church,” Cardinal O’Brien moved on to reflections about the life and work of Mother Angelica.

Here is that homily:

The Liturgy of this solemn Tuesday of Holy Week focuses upon the tragic betrayal of Judas as the Church moves closer to the Passion and Death of Jesus. The sad event begins the spiral of the disciples into confusion and despondency as the capture and trial of Jesus immediately follow.

There is a light of hope, however, to balance the Gospel’s foreboding and we find it in the first reading.

The Babylonian captivity of the Jewish people has come to an end, and Isaiah is speaking in the name of the newly liberated Jews. Israel and her every member has from of old been called to be a prophetic people, commissioned by Yahweh to spread the Word of God.

While for all these years of captivity, and before, God’s eternal word – God’s sharp edged sword and polished arrow have been concealed, mute and ineffective. Now, Israel is inspired by new strength as she hears the Lord’s promise: Not only, will I grace you with my word to revive my despondent nation. “I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”

And Pentecost was the answer: From the Cenacle, God’s eternal word speaks in the language of every nation: the throng were all amazed and bewildered because each one heard them speaking in his own language.

In every age and culture Christ’s disciples have preached the word, often at critical times for his Church. Think of Augustine of Canterbury, Cyril and Methodius, Francis and Dominic, Loyola and Xavier, John Paul II, surprising and often unexpected missionaries of the word.

And when we speak of the millions who hear his eternal word, might not Canton Ohio’s Rita Antoinette Rizzo come to mind! A worldly-wise contemplative, a handicapped hobbler, an unsophisticated, but highly intelligent charismatic voice still touching the hearts of millions around the world, Mother Mary Angelica would surely be an unexpected choice to enable God’s word to reach to the ends of the earth.

Some years ago, Time magazine profile called her “an improbable superstar of religious broadcasting and arguably the most influential Roman Catholic woman of America.”

Started with $200 in 1981, the Eternal World Television Network now transmits to more than 261 million homes in 150 countries, energizing 400 dedicated lay workers. Not to mention Mother’s founding along the way of communities of men and women religious, two shrines of the Blessed Sacrament visited annually by tens of thousands of pilgrims at the very heart of Baptist country.

Her accomplishments could go on-and-on. But did I say “her accomplishments”? In saying that, I fear I’d be victim of one of her patented scowls – and rightly so! All this, she insists has not been her work. “This network doesn’t belong to me. It belongs to God.”

Her every living moment was spent in a scrupulous discernment of God’s will in her life – an active life of contemplation guided by the Eucharist and that well-worn Bible always clutched in her arms.

Throughout her life Mother suffered greatly – physically, for sure, but also what she called interior suffering, a sometimes greater cross. Her steel-willed, tenacious determination resulted in amazing achievements but could bring about a confrontation or two which could go too far. She once admitted: Lord, there were people in my path who touched off painful weaknesses in my soul – weaknesses I did not want to see…. Give to those I have offended many graces; make them holy. Bless those who have offended me and forgive them.”

But of all the trials this active contemplative experienced, the most difficult challenge was yet to come. A series of serious strokes left her physically powerless the last 15 years of her life and, more frustrating for this great communicator, speechless. As never before she now realized the life of a true contemplative. Now, words written earlier for others’ inspiration resonated in her very own mind and heart:

“Love speaks loudly in silence and that silence touches our souls. The Voice of Jesus sounds in our hearts like the voice of mighty waters, cleansing the debris collected during the storms of life. Our parched souls, tired of the journey, find refreshment in the living water flowing from the tabernacle… His silent presence hidden in the tabernacle, says to each of us, Come to me all you who labor and I will refresh you.”

Can we doubt that Jesus would have abandoned this faithful servant of his without strong graces of perseverance and insights into the Cross of his suffering and death for the sake of the world! And we can but imagine what graces which those years of silent suffering have won for the spread of the eternal word, even as we speak.

For that we give thanks to the Lord as we continue to commend her soul to God’s mercy.

REMEMBERING MOTHER ANGELICA

REMEMBERING MOTHER ANGELICA

Mass this afternoon in the Chapel of the Choir (aka Chapel of the Canons) in St. Peter’s Basilica on the second anniversary of the death of Mother Angelica. Cardinal Edwin O’Brien presided at the concelebration and gave a very beautiful homily about Mother Angelica, her life, her dreams, her pain – and EWTN!

Took these with my phone and can’t wait to buy a new camera – my terrific Samsung Galaxy died in Chicago at Christmas. It is just frozen – cannot do anything except turn it on and off!

POPE CONDEMNS TERRORIST ATTACK IN FRANCE – PAPAL CONDOLENCES FOR VICTIMS OF FIRE IN SIBERIA

I cannot let this day pass without writing to all of you – so many of you! – who contacted me via email or commented on my Facebook post, “For Whom the Bell Tolls: The Death of a Radio.”

I was overwhelmed with your sentiments and prayers and feelings of gratitude for the work done by Vatican Radio in general and my program, “Joan Knows,” in particular. This late, great radio gave us countless hours of special news reports and feature programs – so many it is almost impossible to calculate – and they will be missed. The last ones air Easter Sunday, April 1.

In the meantime, please know I intend to be with you a loooong time via EWTN! I not only have this daily column, I report to you twice weekly with televised segments from Rome for “At Home with Jim and Joy,” and, of course, we get together again during my weekend radio show, “Vatican Insider.”

I’m going to find a way to bring you audio reports a few times a week as part of this daily blog, “Joan’s Rome.” With today’s technology that should be a breeze – at least I hope so.

And naturally there’s the other “Joan’s Rome” – my videos. I’ve done 59 so far, most from the Vatican and Rome but 14 were filmed in Assisi. In April I’ll be filming about a dozen more videos and will alert you when those are done and ready for airing!

Again, heartfelt thanks for your friendship and gratitude for my work!

The beat goes on!

By the way, you will be remembered in my prayers as the staff of EWTN in Rome gathers this afternoon in the Chapel of the Canons in St. Peter’s Basilica for Mass in memory of Mother Angelica on the anniversary of her death. Cardinal Edwin O’Brien, Grand Master of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre will celebrate Mass.

POPE CONDEMNS TERRORIST ATTACK IN FRANCE

Pope Francis has sent a telegram of condolences to Bishop Alain Planet of Carcassone and Narbonne in southwest France where four people were killed and 15 injured in a terrorist attack on March 23rd. The Pope said he entrusts to God’s mercy all those who lost their lives and assured their loved ones of his closeness. In particular, he recalled Arnaud Beltrame’s “generous and heroic” gesture as he gave his life to protect the lives of others.

“I renew my condemnation for such acts of violence that cause so much pain and fervently ask the Lord for the gift of peace, invoking on the affected families and on all the people of France God’s blessings.”

The attacker was shot dead by police after the shooting spree that included taking hostages at a supermarket in the town of Trèbes.

PAPAL CONDOLENCES FOR VICTIMS OF FIRE IN SIBERIA

Pope Francis also sent a telegram of condolences for the 64 people killed in a deadly fire that swept through the Winter Cherry shopping and entertainment complex in the Siberian city of Kemerovo. Many of the victims were children as the complex is a popular place for family entertainment.

Local media said smoke and flames engulfed a children’s trampoline room and a cinema on the fourth floor. Witnesses said emergency exits were blocked and officials are searching for a security officer who is suspected of turning off a Public Announcement system after he was alerted to the blaze. Four people have been detained for questioning, including the owner of the complex and the head of the company that manages the shopping center.

The telegram, sent in the Pope’s name by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, said, “His Holiness Pope Francis was deeply saddened to learn of the fire which struck the Winter Cherry complex in Kemerovo, and he offers heartfelt condolences to all those affected by this tragedy. Entrusting the deceased, especially the many children who lost their lives, to the merciful love of God Almighty, His Holiness offers the assurance of his prayers for all who mourn their loss. With the assurance of his spiritual closeness to the authorities and emergency personnel as they assist the injured and continue their search for the missing, Pope Francis invokes upon all the divine blessings of peace and consolation.” (vaticannews.va)

IT SEEMS “VATICAN NEWS IS EVERYWHERE”

IT SEEMS “VATICAN NEWS IS EVERYWHERE”

I had dinner Saturday night at one of my new favorite places in Rome, “Terrazza Borromini” (entrance Via Santa Maria dell’Anima, 30). The chef is Francesco Grasso whom many of you met on visits to Rome when he was the chef at La Scaletta, right across the street from the entrance to Terrazza Borromini (he is the Bill Murray lookalike – when Murray was about 45). He was hired away from La Scaletta about a year ago and now works his kitchen magic at the Borromini.

I walked through Piazza Navona after dinner on my way to Corso Vittorio Emanuele to get a bus home. And this is what greeted me on the east side of the square as soon as I entered –

The ad says: LET’S BRING FRANCESCO TO THE WORLD – So Many Languages – Every Day – Just One Story

This Vatican News ad is on a canvas that covers Our Lady of Sacred Heart church as its façade is being restored. Many buildings that undergo cleaning and/or restoration are covered by similar canvases, and often the facade of the building or church is painted on the canvas.

Also quite often, as you can see here, publicity adorns the canvas. The usual practice is for the company that is advertising to pay a fee to the owners of the building (in this case, a church). Over time, I have seen buildings covered by canvas ads for as long as a couple of years! Samsung is quite big on doing this and its canvas publicity covers some Vatican buildings at the end of Via della Conciliazione and on Pza. Pio.

I was curious about this ad – and doubly so when I saw the identical ad Sunday from a bus as I was retuning home from Mass at St. Patrick’s. It covered a huge canvas on the building known as the Palazzo della Cancelleria, a Vatican building on Corso Vittorio Emanuele that houses the tribunals of the Vatican. The basilica of San Lorenzo in Damaso is also encompassed by this building.

I’ve now seen this ad two times, and both times on a church or church-owned building so I am guessing (hoping) there is no revenue involved.

In any case, I find it fascinating that the Vatican has chosen this method to advertise (in Italian) its (beta version) news site.

Makes me think of the EWTN publicity, “EWTN is everywhere!”

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

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. This is a story I tell all my family and friends when they come to Rome and we are in the very magical St. Peter’s Square.

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 85-foot high, 350-ton obelisk was transported to the square by 900 workers, 140 horses and 44 winches. Benedetto Bresca, a ship’s captain from the Italian Riviera area of San Remo-Bordighera, was present in the large crowd who had gathered to watch the raising of the obelisk.

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.

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, “acqua alle corde, acqua alle corde (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 him by giving Benedetto 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.

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.