The pope is setting aside a special day for those in their ‘Golden Years’

VATICAN CITY — Celebrate Grandparents’ Day with Pope Francis at the Vatican!

The Vatican is inviting the world’s older generation to a special day and Mass with the pope in St. Peter’s Square.

All you have to do is “apply” to request attendance by writing to events@family.va or by sending a fax to +39.06.698.87272.poster elderly

 

“The Blessing of Long Life” event will be held Sunday Sept. 28 — the world day of prayer for the synod of bishops on the family — and a few weeks after National Grandparents’ Day in the U.S. (a number of countries celebrate Grandparents’ Day sometime in September or October).

The Pontifical Council for the Family, which is organizing the event, has chosen verse 18 from Psalm 71 as the theme for the day:

“Now that I am old and gray,
do not forsake me, God,
That I may proclaim your might
to all generations yet to come…”

 

Pope Francis very forcefully reminds people of the untapped riches our elders have to offer with their life experiences, faith and wisdom. He has said communities that do not care for and respect the elderly don’t have a future because they’ll be rootless without their memories.

Pope accepts kiss from elderly woman during general audience in St. Peter's Square at Vatican

Pope Francis greets an elderly woman in a wheelchair during his general audience in St. Peter’s Square March 5, 2014. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

The pope once said that, when he is feeling blue, he loves to read chapter 26 of Deuteronomy, which talks about God’s plan of letting new generations reap the fruits of their elders.

“To look at the elderly is to recognize that that man made his life’s path toward me…to realize that I am just one more link, that I have to honor those who have preceded me and that I have to allow myself to be honored by those who are going to follow.

…The wisdom of the elderly has helped me a lot and that’s why, time and again, I tend to venerate them.”

– then-Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio in the book, “On Heaven and Earth”

 

If you’re app-y and you know it… show the pope!

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican has launched its upgraded Pope App this week, offering “all things pope” for your iPad or Android device.

President of Pontifical Council for Social Communications shows Pope Francis news on tablet during meeting at the Vatican

Pope Francis checks out the updated “Pope App,” developed by the Pontifical Council for Social Communications. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

 

popeapp1President of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, Archbishop Claudio Celli, and project coordinator, Thaddeus Jones, showed Pope Francis on Monday the updated version, which features news, images, live-streaming video and more.

It aggregates a large amount of content produced by the Vatican’s many media outlets, like Vatican Radio and Vatican television, and offers alerts so a user will know when a live event is about to begin.

The free app is available in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese and Italian.

sound cloud

Another platform the PCCS has ventured onto recently is SoundCloud.com, where it’s posting audio content in different languages from Vatican Radio.

The SoundCloud account lets people share, repost, favorite and save the audio interviews and news reports onto their own playlist for listening on any device when they want.

 

Here are a few samples:

 

 

 

 

 

Off the fence? World Cup puts pope on offense vs. his own defense

pope guard2

A Swiss guard looks on as Pope Francis arrives for a general audience in St. Peter’s Square June 11, 2014. (CNS photo by Paul Haring)

VATICAN CITY — Even though Pope Francis has repeatedly pledged to root for no one nation and Switzerland has historically held a stance of armed neutrality, those pacifist days may be over.

Pope Francis has reportedly declared, “It’s going to be war!” to his own defenders — the Swiss Guard — ahead of today’s World Cup match: Argentina vs. Switzerland.

The French news service, IMedia, reported that the pope was telling the very men who have vowed to sacrifice their own lives to protect him that it was war. All in jest obviously, and a fun indicator the pontiff will be keeping his eyes and ears open for the final score.

Pope Francis receives Argentine soccer jersey during general audience

Pope Francis grabs an Argentine soccer jersey during his June 25 general audience in St. Peter’s Square. (CNS photo/Alessandro Bianchi, Reuters)

IMedia also reported that the guards invited the pope to come by their barracks tonight to watch the game on their big-screen setup, complete with artificial turf. The pope was said to have replied that “unfortunately” he couldn’t make it.

watching game swiss

Swiss guards and two children watching the World Cup in the guards’ barracks. Photo from the Guardia Svizzera Pontificia’s Facebook page.

 

The last time the two countries faced off at a World Cup game was in 1966 with Argentina taking away a 2-0 win.

 

The pope’s home nation is favored 2-to-1 to win this knockout round and make it on to the quarterfinals. So it’s unlikely we’ll see a disgruntled pontiff like the one below roaming the corridors of his residence:

swiss game

 

THIS JUST IN: Just heard from the Swiss Guard media point-man that while “no special party” has been organized for tonight, guards who are off-duty “will for sure enjoy a cold beer…”

 

 

Footloose: Getting to Rome the old-fashioned way

IMG_2892

Francesco Locatelli walked to Rome from Sotto Il Monte — his hometown and the birthplace of Blessed John XXIII. (CNS photo/Carol Glatz)

VATICAN CITY — Sporting blisters and a pair of split sneakers, Francesco Locatelli finally made it to Rome on foot from his northern Italian hometown of Sotto Il Monte — the birthplace of Blessed John XXIII.

IMG_2900

Locatelli’s backpack says “Sotto Il Monte (Bergamo) Rome by foot.” He left home March 29 and arrived after 27 days of walking. (CNS photo/Carol Glatz)

The journey took him 27 days and he says it was worth every painful step to make it to tomorrow’s canonizations of Blessed John and John Paul II.

“Such an important event… I wouldn’t have missed it for the world,” he told me this afternoon in St. Peter’s Square.

IMG_2897

Locatelli went through two pairs of shoes on his pilgrimage from northern Italy. (CNS photo/Carol Glatz)

“I went through two pairs of shoes, my legs are dying, I’ve got blisters from going up and down the mountains,” he said leaning on his walking stick. But “dedicating one month of my life is nothing compared to what these two popes have done.”

Doing a pilgrimage is also a life-changing event, he said. “I feel different. It breaks you out of your usual routine and changes you — when you make such a huge effort and see others exerting themselves, too.”

Locatelli said Pope John always felt like part of the family. “He comes from the same place I come from. I’m a farmer, too, (like the pope’s father was) and we grew up on top of the same land.”

He braved the wet and cold Italian springtime as he made his way from his home and along the famous pilgrim path, the Francigena Way. He carried an official “pilgrim’s passport” that he got stamped along the route.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Staying at parish shelters and hostels, he met several other pilgrims coming to Rome as well, including two women and a man who spent three months walking from Poland. “We met in Viterbo and came to Rome together; now I lost track of them,” he said, looking over the huge crowds streaming into the square.

I asked if he planned on walking back home. “No, no! Taking the train. My wife hasn’t seen me in a month!”

 

 

Vatican issues official prayers to Saints John XXIII & John Paul II

Preparation for the canonization of Blesseds John XXIII and John Paul III in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican

The Vatican hung the banners of Blesseds John Paul II and John XXIII on the facade of St. Peter’s Basilica April 25. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

VATICAN CITY — The banners of Blesseds Pope John Paul II and John XXIII were hung on the facade of St. Peter’s Basilica today and the official prayer cards of the two new saints have been printed.

Cardinal Angelo Comastri, the papal vicar for Vatican City, produced the cards, which will be distribution after the two popes’ canonizations on Sunday.

This is what they look like with the prayers on the back:

 

The cardinal’s office said there were no plans to provide official translations of the prayers. So, for the time being, we’d like to offer you our own translation here:

 

Prayer to St. John Paul II

Oh, St. John Paul, from the window of heaven, grant us your blessing! Bless the church that you loved and served and guided, courageously leading it along the paths of the world in order to bring Jesus to everyone and everyone to Jesus. Bless the young, who were your great passion. Help them dream again, help them look up high again to find the light that illuminates the paths of life here on earth.

May you bless families, bless each family! You warned of Satan’s assault against this precious and indispensable divine spark that God lit on earth. St. John Paul, with your prayer, may you protect the family and every life that blossoms from the family.

Pray for the whole world, which is still marked by tensions, wars and injustice. You tackled war by invoking dialogue and planting the seeds of love: pray for us so that we may be tireless sowers of peace.

Oh St. John Paul, from heaven’s window, where we see you next to Mary, send God’s blessing down upon us all. Amen.

 

Prayer to St. John XXIII

Dear Pope John,

Your simplicity and meekness carried the scent of God and sparked in people’s hearts the desire for goodness. You spoke often of the beauty of the family gathered around the table to share bread and faith: pray for us that once again true families would live in our homes.

With outstretched hands you sowed hope, and you taught us to listen for God’s footsteps as he prepares a new humanity: help us have a healthy optimism of defeating evil with good.

You loved the world with its light and darkness, and you believed that peace is possible: help us be instruments of peace at home and in our communities.

With paternal gentleness you gave all children a caress: you moved the world and reminded us that hands have been given to us not for striking, but for embracing and drying tears.

Pray for us so that we do not limit ourselves to cursing the darkness but that we bring the light, bringing Jesus everywhere and always praying to Mary. Amen.

No nook neglected: Spring cleaning at the Vatican

VATICAN CITY — City workers have been out in force the past few weeks getting Rome ready for the massive numbers of people expected for the canonizations this Sunday of Blesseds Pope John XXIII and John Paul II.

Road crews finally put down a thick coat of fresh white paint for pedestrian crossings that had been worn bare from heavy traffic.

1pedstripes

The city of Rome is gearing up for the April 27 canonizations. Workers have repainted pedestrian crossings around St. Peter’s Square. (CNS photo/Carol Glatz)

City workers are also doing necessary patch-ups like fixing broken paving on the sidewalks:

1sidewalk2

City workers replace and repair broken paving stones near St. Peter’s Square. (CNS photo/Carol Glatz)

 

and smoothing out some bumpy ‘Sampietrini’ cobblestones:

1street

City workers smoothing out the ‘Sampietrini’ cobblestones along one section of the main boulevard leading to St. Peter’s Square. (CNS photo/Carol Glatz)

 

But one thing happened today that was a bit unexpected even though I think it turned out to be one of the most important sprucing-up jobs someone thought of assigning:

1peek

Peek-a-boo! A Vatican worker cleaning the live-cam that sits atop the colonnade overlooking St. Peter’s Square. (Screengrab from CTV live feed)

 

A Vatican worker spent a good 15 minutes scrubbing and shining the glass in front of the Vatican television live-cam that sits on top of the colonnade overlooking St. Peter’s Square.

1spray2

A Vatican worker sprays a cleansing foam on the live cam overlooking St. Peter’s Square. (Screengrab of CTV live feed)

He used a large variety of cleaners and even a big puff of his own breath to wipe off all the dust, grime and inevitable bug and bird droppings from the glass protecting the camera’s lens.

Check out his hard work here:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Vatican has six live webcams on its website, but this is the ‘default’ cam on the Vatican live player giving people a birds-eye view of the square 24/7 when it’s not broadcasting important papal and other Vatican events.

 

The long & winding road…to sainthood!

VATICAN CITY — Have you ever wondered what it takes to become a saint?

Pope Francis gave us a thorough list of the secrets to holiness on the Feast of All Saints last year.

“Saints aren’t superheroes nor were they born perfect,” he said. It’s just that “when they experienced the life-changing encounter with God,” they never left his side.

But what about “the bureaucratic” aspect of saint-making? What needs to happen to declare someone a blessed, a martyr or a saint?

Well, we drew up a handy, super simplified flowchart to walk you through the sainthood process.

Click here or on the image below to get a large-screen view.

 

sainthood flowchart

Remembering murdered Jesuit confrere, pope appeals for peace in Syria

UPDATE: Full story on the pope’s remarks and more.

VATICAN CITY — Here is our translation of Pope Francis’ remarks today about the murder of Jesuit Father Frans van der Lugt and the continuing war in Syria:

Monday in Homs, Syria, Father Frans van der Lugt, my 75-year-old Dutch Jesuit confrere, was assassinated. He arrived in Syria about 50 years ago and always did his best for everyone with graciousness and love, and so was loved and held in esteem by Christians and Muslims.

Father Frans van der Lugt (CNS/Reuters)

Father Frans van der Lugt (CNS/Reuters)

His brutal murder filled me with with deep sadness and made me think again of all the people who suffer and are dying in that martyred country, already too long a victim of a bloody conflict that continues to sow death and destruction. I also remember the numerous people who have been kidnapped — Christians and Muslims, Syrians and people from other countries, among whom there are bishops and priests. We ask the Lord to grant that they may quickly return to their loved ones and families and communities.

From my heart, I ask you all to join my prayer for peace in Syria and in the region, and I launch a heartfelt appeal to Syrian leaders and to the international community: Silence the weapons! Put an end to the violence! No more war! No more destruction! May there be respect for humanitarian law, care for the people who need humanitarian assistance and may the desired peace be reached through dialogue and reconciliation.”

Papa’s got a brand new bag

VATICAN CITY — Parishioners in Rome gave Pope Francis a brand new black bag in the hopes that it would hold up for many years of traveling and serving as the successor of St. Peter.

black-bag

An unidentified parishioner at the church of St. Gregory the Great presents Pope Francis April 6 with a new leather bag, similar to the one he already uses for trips outside the Vatican. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

“We hope that you have a long and fruitful pontificate, therefore, we thought that the bag you have may not be enough,” Father Renzo Chiesa told the pope.

The pope got the gift when he went to hear confessions and celebrate Mass at the church of St. Gregory the Great in the outskirts of Rome this Sunday.

Father Chiesa told the pope that they stuffed the bag full of letters and notes from parishioners so as “not to clog up the Vatican post office” with more mail for the pope.

Pope Francis holds personal bag as he boards plane at airport in Rome

Pope Francis holding his personal bag as he boarded a plane at airport in Rome July 22, 2013. (CNS photo/Giampiero Sposito, Reuters)

The bag is practically identical to the one the pope carries along with him on trips outside the Vatican.

He revealed to journalists on the plane to Brazil last July, what was inside:  “It wasn’t the key for the atom bomb,” he told them. There was a razor, a breviary, an appointment book, a book to read (about St. Therese).

He said, “I have always taken a bag with me when traveling — it’s normal.”

Planting seeds of hope

agreet

Screengrab of Vatican TV footage of today’s private audience between Pope Francis and U.S. President Barack Obama.

VATICAN CITY — One of the many moments pool reporters look forward to when a head of state meets the pope is the gift exchange.

The Vatican most often offers a unique piece of artisan art with a spiritual or Vatican theme. But when it comes to gifts from visiting dignitaries, it’s anything goes: chess sets, sacred or secular art, traditional and native crafts, books and rare manuscripts or teddy bears.

Today U.S. President Barack Obama gave Pope Francis a small chest full of fruit and vegetable seeds that are used in the White House Gardens.

“If you have a chance to come to the White House, we can show you our garden as well,” the president said.

“Como no!” the pope replied in Spanish, “Why not?” or “Of course.”

agift2

The seeds were inside individual blue velvet pouches.

“These I think are carrots,” the president said as he opened one of the pouches.

The president said the idea for the seeds came after he heard that Pope Francis had decided to open to the public the gardens at the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo.

The custom-made box the seeds came in is made from reclaimed wood from the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Baltimore — the first cathedral in the United States and an international symbol of religious freedom.  [UPDATE: read this story by the Archdiocese of Baltimore's The Catholic Review for more interesting background on the box!]

The basilica’s cornerstone was laid by Jesuit Father John Carroll, the first Catholic bishop and archbishop in the United States.

According to the White House, the inscription on the chest reads:

Presented to His Holiness Pope Francis
by Barack Obama
President of the United States of America
March 27, 2014

In addition to the seeds for the papal gardens, the U.S. president was also passing on a donation from Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, which is donating enough seeds to yield several tons of produce to any charity the pope chooses.

“The gift honors the commitment of your Holiness to sow the seeds of global peace for future generations,” a White House statement said.

 

agifts3

The gifts the president received from the pope included a large bronze medallion of an angel representing solidarity and peace. The angel is “embracing and bringing together the northern and southern hemispheres of the earth, while overcoming the opposition of a dragon,” the Vatican said.

However, Pope Francis specified that the gift was actually a personal gesture from him, “from Jorge Bergoglio. When I saw it, I said: ‘I’ll give it to Obama; it’s the angel of peace,” he told the U.S. president.

The other medal, which the pope said, “is from the pope,” is a replica of a 17th-century medallion commemorating the laying of the first stone of Bernini’s colonnade in St. Peter’s Square.

“I will treasure this,” Obama said.

He also received a copy of the pope’s Apostolic Exhortation on the Proclamation of the Gospel in Today’s World, “Evangelii Gaudium,” a gift the pope has been giving visiting heads of state.

The president said with a smile: “I actually will probably read this in the Oval Office when I’m deeply frustrated. I’m sure it will give me strength and calm me down.”

When the remark was interpreted for the pope, he smiled, said “I hope,” and chuckled, too.

 

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 703 other followers