January and February: A Day-by-Day Chronicle of Vatican Events

Pope Benedict and two Italian schoolchildren watch after releasing a dove from the window of the Pope’s apartment overlooking St. Peter's Square at the Vatican January 29. After praying the Angelus, the Pope and the children released doves as a symbol of peace.

January Tuesday 8 “BE LIKE GOOD SAMARITAN, HELP THOSE IN NEED” In a message for the 2013 World Day of the Sick, thanking those who care for the sick and elderly, the Pope underlined the Church’s fundamental role in “lovingly and generously accepting every human being, especially those who are weak and sick.” The World […]

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Benedict XVI and the Sacraments

Pope Benedict baptizes Magdi Allam as he celebrates the Easter Vigil in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican March 22, 2008 (CNS photo)

      Baptism: The babies whom the Pope baptizes in the annual January rite are usually the children of Vatican employees, as was to be the case this year. The Pope also traditionally administers the sac­raments of Christian initiation — Baptism, Confirmation and First Communion — to a group of adult converts in St. […]

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The Edict of Milan’s 1700th Anniversary

The exhibition “Constantine A.D. 313: The Edict of Milan and the Age of Tolerance” commemorates the 1700th anniversary of this proclamation issued jointly by Emperors Constantine and Licinius in February 313 A.D. at Mediolanum (today’s Milan), then one of the Roman Empire’s four capital cities (the others being Nicomedia, Trier, and Sirmium). Milan was the […]

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A Tyrolean Restaurant and an Accommodation with a Heart

Way back in April 1995 we reviewed the Cantina Tirolese. Only about five minutes away from the obelisk in St. Peter’s Square, it is a cute restaurant run by the Macher family, in the form of a refined beer-cellar of the type usually seen in Germany and Austria. At the Cantina Tirolese, which has been […]

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Easter Sunday 2013

According  to Orthodox tradition, Jesus Christ was crucified, died and descended into Hades. Then he rose from the dead. The Sunday of Myrrh-bearing Women falls on the second Sunday following Pascha. The myrrh-bearers had brought funeral spices and ointments to finish committing Christ’s body to the grave. They were the first to see the empty tomb and were instructed by the Risen Lord to bring the joyful news to the apostles. Sts. Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus are also commemorated on this day.

For Easter Sunday, we offer a reflection on the Empty Tomb of Our Lord Jesus Christ, based on the Akathist Hymn on that theme. The Ak­athist Hymn is one of the most well-loved services of devotion in the Eastern Churches. Although there is some debate concerning the particulars of its authorship, many scholars agree with […]

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Benedict Steps Down

Benedict XVI attends a February 11 meeting with cardinals at the Vatican. During this meeting, he announced that he would step down from the papacy at the end of the month (CNS photo).

On February 11, Pope Benedict XVI stunned the world by his announcement — in Latin — that he would step down from his papal office on February 28 at 8 p.m. in the evening. Thus began an historic period for the Church, which is still continuing.   The text below is drawn from my daily […]

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The Eyes of the World on the Vatican


Eight years after the election of Pope Benedict XVI, the eyes of the world will again be looking toward the roof of the Sistine Chapel to see the white smoke that will announce the election of a new Pope. The choice of the cardinals, even though guided by the Holy Spirit, will be unprecedented because […]

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Motu Proprio – New Rules

Today the Vatican released revisions to the rules governing papal conclaves. The main point of these revisions was to allow the cardinals to start the Conclave earlier, if they wish to. According to the old rules, the Conclave needed to begin not earlier than 15 days and not later than 20 days after the death […]

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“All Cardinals Must Vote in the Conclave”

Cardinals pray before the beginning of the conclave in which Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected as Pope

Monsignor Juan Ignacio Arrieta, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, on the norms during the sede vacante and the election of a new Pope. The secretary of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, Msgr. Juan Ig­nacio Arrieta, met with journalists at a briefing held in the Vatican Press Office, to supply a new […]

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How Is a New Pope Chosen?

Ambrogio Piazzoni, vice prefect of the Vatican Library and author of the book Storia delle Elezioni Pontificie (“History of Papal Elections”), on the most important conclaves in Church history. The election of the Pope has not always been held as it is today. Conclaves and the norms regulating them have developed over many centuries. The document which […]

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The Most Important Legacy of the Pontificate

Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster ordains to the Catholic priesthood three former Anglican bishops at Westminster Cathedral in London Jan. 15, 2011 (CNS photo)

Benedict XVI’s efforts to have dialogue with other religions and to reunite all Christians were among his priorities. Nobody can deny that liturgy and ecumenism were two key aspects of Benedict XVI’s pontificate. In fact, they can be regarded as the two sides of the same coin, in the sense that a correct liturgical approach […]

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The Dark Evil Ratzinger Fought

From the shock in the US in the years after 2000 to the “guidelines” for bishops’ conferences all over the world, the Pope placed the victims first. Malta, Australia, the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom — Pope Benedict XVI in these countries embraced and listened to the victims of sexual abuse by clergy, seeking […]

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On the Airplane with Benedict XVI

The trips of a Pope who surprised us with his clarity, says his secretary, Msgr. Georg Gänswein. When Benedict XVI traveled to Mexico and Cuba in March 2012 he set a record: he was the oldest Pope to make an international voyage. This explains much of the meaning of travel in the pontificate of the […]

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Faith and Reason: Christianity Is Reasonable

Benedict XVI meets with journalists March 23, 2012 on the plane during his apostolic trip to Mexico (Galazka photo)

Almost every September, Pope Benedict delivered a profound, dramatic address to the political and academic world. His cry: “The windows must be flung open again.”   We can call them Benedict’s “September speeches.” Pope Benedict pronounced them during the trips he took each year, after the summer vacation, to different European capitals. The meetings with […]

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Vatican Route: The Mater Ecclesiae Monastery

The Mater Ecclesiae Monastery.

John Paul II attached great importance to prayer, hence his decision to establish in the Vatican a monastic group of nuns to support his papal ministry and the work of the Roman Curia with their prayers. A building once used by the Vatican police was chosen as the nuns’ residence. It is close to the […]

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Vatican Route: St. Martha’s House

This map, from the book Sede Apostolica Vacante (Vatican Press, 2005) shows: (A) Domus St. Marthae; 
(B) Apostolic Palaces; (C) cardinals’ walk to the Sistine Chapel.

In the February 22, 1996 Ap­ostolic Constitution Universi Domini Gregis on the vacancy of the Apostolic See and the election of the supreme pontiff, John Paul II wrote: “By the time fixed for the beginning of the election of the supreme pontiff, all the cardinal electors must have been assigned and must have taken up […]

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Sistine Chapel: Focus on the New Pope

The Sistine Chapel prepared for a conclave (Galazka photo)

The Sistine Chapel will become the center of attention when it is time to elect a new Pope. In fact, the conclave for the election of a new pontiff takes place in front of Michelangelo’s Last Judgment fresco in the famous Sistine Chapel. The cardinals will file into the Sistine Chapel for the conclave and […]

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The Vatican at Hand

Here is a book which might help reporters — and the faithful coming to Rome from all over the world for the Conclave and the first period of the new Pope this spring — to understand the political and juridical realities of the Holy See in greater detail. The book is the General Guide to […]

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What Church Will the New Pope Govern?

Msgr. Vittorio Formenti and Professor Enrico Nenna (Włodzimierz Redzioch photo).

An interview with Monsignor Vittorio Formenti, head of the Central Statistics Office of the Church, and with Professor Enrico Nenna, on the publication of the new Pontifical Yearbook.   Every year in mid-February, a simple but significant ceremony takes place in the Holy Father’s private library: Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, secretary of state, and Archbishop Giovanni […]

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Benedict XVI’s Pontificate – 2005

On April 19, the second day of the voting, German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, 78, was elected the 265th Pope and took the name Benedict XVI. The newly-elected Pope appeared at the central window of St. Peter’s Basilica smiled as he was greeted by the crowd gathered below in the square. “After the great John Paul […]

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