May 4, 2015, Monday — Frayed Sleeves

“L’amor che move il sole e l’altre stelle” “The love that moves the sun and the other stars” — Dante (1270-1321), words at the end of his epic poem The Divine Comedy, Paradiso XXXIII, 145, referring to what Dante found at the end of his long journey, and to what should await each of us at the end of our long journeys, cited today by Pope Francis
Yesterday, the Pope went down to Ostia, on the coast outside of Rome, for a visit to a parish there, the “Queen of Peace” parish (“Regina Pacis”).

During the visit, someone snapped a photo of his white robe, which is fraying slightly on both sleeves.

This became a topic of discussion in the Italian press.

As La Repubblica put it: “All’orologio di plastica e alla croce di ferro, si accosta ora la tonaca sfilacciata. In una foto scattata durante la visita di papa Francesco a Ostia, sul litorale romano, si nota che l’abito del pontefice è logoro. Un particolare che è stato ingrandito e condiviso sui social network.” (“Next to the plastic watch and the iron cross, there is now the fraying tunic. In a photo taken during the visit of Pope Francis to Ostia, on the Roman coast, it is visible that the Pope’s vestment is getting worn. This particular was zoomed in on and shared on social networks.”)

“Un dettaglio, certo,” wrote Antonio Sanfrancesco for Famiglia Cristiana. “Ma significativo dello stile pastorale di Bergoglio. Le scarpe nere che indossa da quando è stato eletto, la croce semplice di metallo, l’anello del pescatore d’argento e un orologio da polso semplicissimo: uno Swatch, modello base, con datario e senza alcuna funzione particolare. Il costo si aggira attorno ai 50 euro. Si racconta che quando l’orologio si è rotto non è stato facile convincerlo a comprarne uno nuovo. Lui avrebbe preferito cambiare semplicemente il cinturino e ha “acconsentito” all’acquisto solo quando gli è stato assicurato che un orologio nuovo, identico al suo non sarebbe costato più del cambio di cinturino.”

(“A small detail, certainly. But indicative of the pastoral style of Bergoglio. The black shoes he has worn since his election, the simple cross of metal, the ring of the fisherman in silver and a very simple watch on his wrist: a Swatch, a basic model, giving the date but with no other special function. It costs about 50 euros. It is said that when the watch broke, it was not easy to conveince him to buy a new one. He wanted to change only the strap, and ‘gave in’ to buying a new one only after he was assured that a new one, identical to the old one, would not cost more than changing the watch-band.”)

Today, Pope Francis sent a special message to the President of the Pontifical Council for Culture, Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, on the occasion of a celebration held at the Italian Senate this morning marking the 750th anniversary of the birth of the poet Dante Alighieri. (Dante was born in 1265, 750 years ago; the actual day of his birth is June 1.)

In the message, the Pope began by saying that he joined “the chorus of those who believe Dante Alighieri is an artist of the highest universal value, who still has much to say and to give, through his immortal works, to all those who are willing to walk the path of true knowledge.”

He said that a number of his predecessors including Blessed Paul VI , Pope St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI had referred to Dante in papal documents.

The Holy Father added that he himself in his first encyclical Lumen Fidei, chose to tap into the immense wealth of images, symbols, and values contained in Dante’s works.

On the eve of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, the Pope said it was his hope that the celebrations of the 750th anniversary of Dante’s birth, like those in preparation for the 700th anniverary of his death in 2021 (Dante died in 1321) could again make Dante’s work understood and valued.

Dante, Pope Francis concluded, is a man who invites us to regain the path of our human journey and the hope to once again see the bright horizon where shines the full dignity of the human person.

He wrote: “Onorando Dante Alighieri, come già ci invitava a fare Paolo VI, noi potremo arricchirci della sua esperienza per attraversare le tante selve oscure ancora disseminate nella nostra terra e compiere felicemente il nostro pellegrinaggio nella storia, per giungere alla méta sognata e desiderata da ogni uomo: «l’amor che move il sole e l’altre stelle» (Par. XXXIII, 145).”

“Honoring Dante, as Paul VI already invited us to do, we can be enriched through his experience in order to pass through the many ‘dark woods’ still sprinkled across our world, and to complete happily our pilgrimage in history, to reach the goal dreamed of and desired by every man: ‘the love that moves the sun and the other stars.” (Paradise, 33: 145)


Note: For those who would like to travel with us on pilgrimage:

(1) In mid-July 2015, we will travel with a small group of Inside the Vatican readers on our annual “Urbi et Orbi” pilgrimage to Russia, Turkey and the Vatican, to visit eastern Orthodox leaders, shrines and monasteries, and to talk with Vatican officials about ecumenical relations between Catholics and Orthodox;

(2) On December 8, 2015, and again on November 20, 2016, we will be gathering in Rome to be present when Pope Francis opens the Holy Door to begin his Special Jubilee of Mercy, and when he closes the door to end the Jubilee Year. If you would like to join us on one or more of these pilgrimages, email now for more information…

We also often travel to Norcia.

We keep all of these pilgrimages small. Please contact us if you would like your name to be placed on a waiting list, to hold your spot.

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What is the glory of God?

“The glory of God is man alive; but the life of man is the vision of God.” —St. Irenaeus of Lyons, in the territory of France, in his great work Against All Heresies, written c. 180 A.D.

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