Category Archives: Vatican

We must be out in the world

For the past month I have been complimenting my studies as an International Conflict Analysis student with supplemental studies here in Rome. This time has also served as a pilgrimage for me. Every day I am surrounded by the great saints, the basilicas, the Vatican, and other pilgrims who share my journey.

Vatican City at nightfall

A few minutes before Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve this past year, I spoke with a family friend and visiting Archbishop from Europe. “Your Excellency, I could not help but notice the conspicuous absence of one particular archbishop at the Vatican Midnight Mass a few hours ago,” I said in a lighthearted voice! He responded with a smile and said, “Sometimes we spend too much time in Rome. We must be out in the world and spreading the Good News”. It is time for me to return home and take this renewed spirit of charity and share the faith with those around me.

Alas, it is time to return home.

A.M.D.G.

Tour of Christian Rome (Part 3)

Et ego dico tibi quia tu es Petrus Petrus et super hanc petram aedificabo ecclesiam meam et portae inferi non praevalebunt(And I say to you: you are Peter, and upon this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it -Matt 16:18).

  1. Mass with Pope Benedict XVI
  2. Angelus with Pope Benedict outdoors in Piazza San Pietro noon local time

Unfortunately it has been many days since I have had the time to sit down and write here in Rome, but I am doing my best. Thank you for your patience. 

Pope Benedict XVI celebrates the 2011 Pentecost Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica

1) Imagine three days ago, you waited in line to receive your free tickets from the Swiss Guard to have the privilege of attending a Mass celebrated by the Vicar of Christ. Now it is time to go to Mass. You wait in line with 10,000 other pilgrims and make your way through the security line guarded by the Italian police. Upon entering St. Peter’s Basilica you notice that the Italian police no longer have any jurisdiction and the Swiss Guard take over security.

At 9AM, the bell tolls and a long procession of altar servers, priests, bishops, archbishops, and cardinals walk past you. Since our Holy Father is getting older, he now uses a moving platform to walk up and down the aisles of the world’s largest church.

The Vatican Choir is singing, composed of boys ages 9-12 and adult males. The most beautiful chants usually take place during the Gospel antiphon and during Communion. Listen to this recording of the Pentecost Sunday Gospel Acclamation which is sung every year(recorded in 1985).

Veni Sancte Spiritus reple tuorum corda fidelium et tui amoris in eis ignem accende

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of thy faithful, and kindle them in the fire of your love.

2) Angelus with Pope Benedict

After Mass, everyone rushes outside to get a good view of the Apostolic Palace. At 12 Noon, the Pope appears at the window and greets the people as they erupt in a loud applause. Yes, that tiny man is very high up, although only on the 4th floor. The Pope addresses the crowd of about 10,000 in five to seven languages and then says the traditional Angelus prayer before giving a final blessing and then retreating from the window.

Pope Benedict XVI on June 10, 2012 from his bedroom window.

A.M.D.G.

Pope Benedict Warns Against Future “Vatileak” Scandals

This week, Pope Benedict addressed students from the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy where some of the world’s brightest young priests are training at one of the  most renowned diplomatic school in the world to be representatives of the Holy See to other governments.

Archbishop Vigano, the hero in this scandal, became the unfortunate center of attention this past year at the Vatican when the Pope’s butler leaked documents to the press about a struggle between him and some financial officials who were being loose with Holy See’s cash.

The Holy Father warned that the diplomats must keep the Pope informed regularly so that he can act appropriately if an issue develops. He reminded the students that faithfulness is a key virtue that they must pay particular attention to.

A.M.D.G.

Virtual Tour of Christian of Rome (Part 2)

Non potest civitas abscondi supra montem posita(A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden -Matt 5:14)

  1. Palace and Archbasilica di San Giovanni in Laterano- 317AD, Constantine I legalizes Christianity and gives this palace to Pope St. Miltiades. This church remains the cathedral of the Pope and the spiritual head of the church today.
  2. Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore- Popes return to Rome in 1417, temporarily reside here. St Jerome is buried here.
  3. Quirinial Palace- Housed 30 popes from 15th century to 19th century when Italy was unified.
  4. Basilica of St Peter- Pope Pius IX holds first Vatican Council and moves into the Vatican Apostolic Palace in 1870.

Stop One: Imagine Constantine preparing to face an army twice his militia’s size. He sees a vision which tells him, “In this sign, you will conquer.”  Constantine marks the helmets of each of his soldiers with the Chi Rho(P and X) which mark the first two letters of Christ in Greek. Constantine wins, and in thanksgiving, he issues the Edict of Milan in 313AD which ends the persecution of Christians. The Christians are now able to come above ground and worship.

Constantine then takes the Lateran Palace and gives it to Pope St. Miltiades who was the Pope at the time. He then orders the construction of the Cathedral which has served as the Pope’s cathedral to this day(The Vatican is not the Pope’s Cathedral). The full title of this Cathedral which was consecrated circa 324AD is:

Archibasilica Sanctissimi Salvatoris et Sanctorum Iohannes Baptistae et Evangelistae in Laterano
Omnium urbis et orbis ecclesiarum mater et caput

Papal Archbasilica of the Most Holy Savior and Saints John the Baptist and John the Evangelist at the Lateran

There is actually no “Saint John Lateran”, rather it refers to the location of the Cathedral which is adjacent to the Lateran Palace. This has been the location of five Ecumenical councils, all named “Lateran Council I, II, II, etc.”

Stop Two: Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore

In 1376, when the Avignon Papacy ended and the Pope returned to Rome, they found the Lateran Palace in a deteriorated state. St. Mary Major became the new papal church. Although it falls outside Vatican City, it is a territory of the Vatican and not the Republic of Italy. This church holds a few special relics of our Catholic identity. St. Mary Major holds a relic of the holy crib of the baby Jesus and is also the resting place of St. Jerome who translated the Bible into Latin.

Stop Three: Quirinal Palace

Pope Gregory XIII wanted a Summer residence to escape the poor sanitary conditions caused by living in close proximity to the river. So he ordered construction to start in 1573 of a new papal palace. Several papal conclaves took place here including the election of: Leo XII, Pius VIII, and Gregory XVI. It is now the office of the President of the Republic of Italy. It is also the official residence of the President; however, Georgio Napolitano prefers to live in his own home and commute here to work daily.

Step Four: St. Peter’s Basilica

Located in the independent nation of Vatican City, St. Peter’s Basilica is the largest church in the world. It was originally built much smaller by Constantine on this location because it is where St. Peter was buried when he died circa 64AD. The Vatican is also the central governing location of the universal Catholic Church and since 1870, has been the residence of the Pope.

A lot has happened in these four locations, for better and for worse. There have been good times and bad times for the Church, but the true charitable glory of  Christ’s Church cannot be hidden by any man. Each of these locations holds a permanent piece of our history and Catholic identity.

A.M.D.G.

Virtual Tour of Christian Rome

St. Peter arrived in Rome circa 42AD and remained there until his martyrdom about 64AD. His successor, Linus, who was ordained Bishop of Rome by the laying on of hands. Each of the readers should desire to have that same zeal of the early Christians. Over the next several days, this blog will cover a virtual tour of Christian Rome divided into three sections:

SPQR, Senatus Populusque Romanus
The Senate and People of Rome

Beati, qui persecutionem patiuntur propter iustitiam (Blessed are those who endure persecution for the sake of justice Matt 5:11)

  1. Colosseum, Forum Romanum – Persecution of Christians circa 45AD-317AD
  2. Chiesa Quo Vadis Domine (Church of “Where are you going, Lord). Where Jesus appeared to Peter in 64AD.
  3. San Pietro in Vincoli, church that holds the chains of St. Peter from when he was in jail
  4. Catacombs, tombs of the early popes, saints, martyrs
  5. Piazza di San Pietro
Non potest civitas abscondi supra montem posita(A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden -Matt 5:14)
  1. Palace and Archbasilica di San Giovanni in Laterano- 317AD, Constantine I legalizes Christianity and gives this palace to Pope St. Miltiades. This church remains the cathedral of the Pope and the spiritual head of the church today.
  2. Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore- Popes return to Rome in 1417, temporarily reside here. St Jerome is buried here.
  3. Quirinial Palace- Housed 30 popes from 15th century to 19th century when Italy was unified.
  4. Basilica of St Peter- Pope Pius IX holds first Vatican Council and moves into the Vatican Apostolic Palace in 1870.
Et ego dico tibi quia tu es Petrus Petrus et super hanc petram aedificabo ecclesiam meam et portae inferi non praevalebunt(And I say to you: you are Peter, and upon this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it -Matt 16:18).
  1. Mass with Pope Benedict XVI
  2. Angelus with Pope Benedict outdoors in Piazza San Pietro noon local time

A.M.D.G.

Finding Jesus in the Simplest of Places, even in Rome

Several in the congregation remain after Mass to pray in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle.

The previous post lauds the great art collections of the Catholic Church as items that help us remember our Catholic identity. This post explores the joys of growing in a personal relationship with God through simplicity.

Located just 69 meters away from Vatican City is a church in stark contrast to the art and glory of St. Peter’s Basilica. This church, San Lorenzo, serves as the youth mission of Rome. To really enjoy this church, you must truly desire a personal relationship with Jesus Christ because there are no stained glass windows or precious attractions to sustain the wandering mind.

Here are a few ways to grow in your relationship with Christ through simple means.

Silence St. Benedict, a 5th century Saint from what is now Italy, said that silence is one of the best ways to develop a spiritual atmosphere for listening to God’s will rather than inserting our own will into our prayer.

True presence of Jesus Christ All Christians are called to remember that the Eucharist is the true glory of the Liturgy. This is why Canon Law explicitly states that sacred images must not be placed as to dominate the attention of the faithful. Sacred images must be charitably placed to help the congregation understand the sacredness of the Mass rather than distract from it.

Be an Early Christian The early Christians had a zeal for Christian life just as we should have. In fact, many were persecuted and martyred. There is something very real about this faith.

A.M.D.G.

The Vatican: Treasured Art and Catholic Identity

St. Processus and St. Martinian were the Roman soldiers who put St. Peter in jail. Later they converted, and died for the faith. It is the same faith we share today, 2,000 years later.

Martin Luther Loses His Catholic Identity In 1510, Martin Luther traveled from Germany to Rome hoping to reinvigorate his Catholic identity. Instead, it worsened as he saw a very wealthy and very earthly institution not focused on Christ. It’s true, he came at a time in history where corruption was rampant. He pointed to the construction of grand buildings like the Vatican as evidence. Luther said that the Church had lost its focus.

Our first Pope was not perfect Remember that Jesus chose St. Peter, a man who denied him three times, to be the first leader of His Church. From the beginning of this institution, we have had mere men leading us, but the faith is divine. (Note: the author believes we are very luck to have Pope Benedict XVI and does not associate him with any grave moral error).

The Vatican has had many additions over the centuries, each new part with the Pope’s name inscribed.

To understand the faith better in tough times, we must separate the people who govern the earthly affairs of the Church and the faith of the Church itself. It is hard, especially when it appears these leaders are living in a palace, the Vatican! The Church is the largest charitable organization in the world and educates more children than any other institution. The charity is unparalleled.

Each piece of art tells a story, many remind us of our tradition of charity But each piece of art that has been procured and taken care of for many centuries tells a story and helps to preserve our Catholic identity. Look at the stories they are telling. Real people died for this faith. Countless have lived in poverty and taken special vows to be a part of it.

“You have written well of me, Thomas” referring to a vision Thomas Aquinas had.

Referring to the altars, Fr. Cristoforo told me, “There is something really special about this, it is not a faith that was discovered ten or twenty years ago.” The Catholic faith has stood the test of time from enemies both internal and external.

I was fortunate enough to attend a Mass being celebrated by Fr. at the Altar of Sts. Processus and Martinian. This is a special place for those who look to share their identity as a convert.

Altar in St. Peter’s Basilica: St. Processus and St. Martinian were the Roman soldiers who put St. Peter in jail. Later they converted, and died for the faith. It is the same faith we share today, 2,000 years later.

The Vatican art tells a story of our 2,000 year old faith. It reminds us of the charitable lives we ought to live, even if some of the men who commissioned the art did not live up to those standards themselves. We are Catholic, we are proud of our duty of charity, and this art helps preserve our identity.