Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, said the Holy Father has moved out of the room he drew by lot before the conclave and into Suite 201, a room that has slightly more elegant furnishings and a larger living room where he can receive guests.
The Domus Sanctae Marthae (St. Martha’s House), the official name of the guesthouse, was built in 1996 specifically to house cardinals during a conclave.
In the meantime, the permanent residents, who had to move out during the conclave, had just returned to their old rooms.
Pope Francis has been there since the beginning of the conclave that elected him March 13, taking his meals in the common dining room downstairs and celebrating a 7 a.m. Mass with Vatican employees in the main chapel of the residence.
He will be the first Pope in 110 years not to live in the papal apartments on the third floor of the Apostolic Palace.
In 1903, St. Pius X became the first Pope to live in those apartments overlooking St. Peter’s Square. The apartments were completely remodeled by Pope Paul VI in 1964 and have undergone smaller modifications by each Pope since, according to Mondo Vaticano, a Vatican-published mini-encyclopedia about Vatican buildings, offices and traditions.
Pastors and theologians involved in ecumenical dialogue emphasize the importance of “table time” — sharing meals — along with serious theological discussions, shared prayer and joint action.
Since March 17, Pope Francis has also had breakfast, lunch and dinner with the Orthodox representatives who came to Rome for his inauguration.
In fact, they all eat together and greet each other in the common dining room.
In the Domus Sanctae Marthae, Pope Francis also held an informal, private meeting, lasting about 15-20 minutes, and lunch with Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner on March 18.
Early Morning Masses
Every morning at 7 a.m., the Holy Father celebrates a Mass in the chapel in the Domus.
Dressed in orange safety vests, green jumpsuits or other workers’ attire, Vatican gardeners, garbage collectors and cleaning crews joined Pope Francis for the
7 a.m. Mass March 22.
Usually in the Vatican, “we’re the invisible ones,” Luciano Cecchetti, coordinator of the Vatican gardeners and sanitation workers, told Vatican Radio after the Mass.
“To find ourselves before the Holy Father, at a Mass for us, is something that doesn’t happen every day. I turned and looked at the faces of the employees: We all left there misty-eyed,” he said.
After the Mass, there was time for private prayer. Pope Francis joined the others, going to a seat in the last row of chairs in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae.
Before the employees headed back to work, Pope Francis greeted each one of them.
Almost all of the gardeners, Cecchetti said, offered to give the Pope a guided visit of the Vatican Gardens.
“He didn’t say no,” he said.
Fr. Lombardi told the journalists the Pope gave a brief homily, focused on the Gospel reading from St. John, in which some Jewish leaders pick up rocks, intending to stone Jesus for blasphemy.
The Pope also had special guests at Mass March 21: the cooks, cleaning crew and other staff of the Domus Sanctae Marthae.
On Wednesday March 27, celebrating Mass at 7 a.m., the Holy Father offered a brief homily on the Gospel, which included Jesus’ prediction that Judas would betray him.
While Pope Francis celebrated the Mass at his residence, as has been his custom, several thousand Vatican employees were at Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica. The employees’ Mass on Wednesday of Holy Week is a Vatican tradition.
The Domus Sanctae Marthae is directly across a small parking lot from the sacristy entrance to the basilica. At the end of the Mass, celebrated by Cardinal Angelo Comastri, archpriest of the basilica, Pope Francis walked over to greet the employees.
The Pope thanked them for their service, and said: “I ask you to pray for me. I need it because I am a sinner, too, like everyone and I want to be faithful to the Lord. Pray for me.”
He wished the employees a happy Easter and prayed, “May the Lord bless you and may Our Lady watch over you like a good mother.”