Video: John XXIII’s secretary, Part 2

Here’s the second in our two-part video series from our interview with the 96-year-old former personal secretary to Blessed John XXIII, Archbishop Loris Capovilla. (In Part 1, if you missed it, the Italian archbishop spoke on the pope’s decision to convene the Second Vatican Council.)

In this segment, Archbishop Capovilla talks about John XXIII’s decision to invite “separated brethren” to attend Vatican II and begin the quest for Christian unity, about devotion to Mary as it relates to Protestants, and about his firsthand knowledge of the third secret of Fatima. You can read more about his comments on Fatima here.

Famed Notre Dame cathedral ‘a model of calm and majesty’

Rowers pass Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. (CNS photo/Reuters)

At a used book sale at a Bethesda, Md., high school not too long ago, I spied a book by a writer named Allan Temko titled “Notre-Dame of Paris: The Biography of a Cathedral,” published by Viking in 1955. It looked like an intriguing book and besides it was going for a quarter. After I heard that the famed cathedral is celebrating its 850th anniversary, I decided to take a look at the book — and I didn’t realize what I  had. Temko, who died in 2006, was a Pulitzer Prize-winning architectural critic and writer and his 1955 book is considered by many to be a “landmark” work about the Paris cathedral. So, why not celebrate this landmark anniversary, by reading Temko’s book? The 25-cent “book sale” price tag belies the wealth of information in it and the sparkling writing.

“Notre-Dame was built by a superb common effort in which the entire community took part, the manual laborer as well as the master artist, the serf and villein as well as the merchant and prince,” he writes. “From their collective energy and enthusiasm the cathedral emerged as the crowning structure of the walled city of the Middle Age. Paris then crowded around the church with inexpressible love.”

Temko opens the book with an introductory section titled “The Idea of a Cathedral.” Subsequent chapters cover Notre Dame’s origins; Bishop Maurice de Sully of Paris, who served from 1160 until his death Sept. 11, 1196, and the 12th-century “flowering,” as the author calls it; the classic phase of construction; and the completion of the structure. The book includes numerous illustrations — photos and architectural drawings.

Here’s hoping you might find this treasure in your public library — or maybe even at a local book sale.

Obama’s support for ‘redefining marriage’ is ‘deeply saddening,’ says USCCB president

President Barack Obama’s support for same-sex marriage — announced yesterday afternoon, a day before a political fundraiser in Hollywood — is “deeply saddening,” said New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. He said that in a Sept. 20, 2011, letter, he had told Obama that the U.S. bishops stood “ready to affirm every positive measure taken” by the president and his administration “to strengthen marriage and family life.”

“However, we cannot be silent in the face of words or actions that would undermine the institution of marriage, the very cornerstone of our society,” the cardinal said.

In Maryland, where voters will decide at the polls in November whether same-sex marriage will be legal as approved by the Legislature, the state Catholic conference said Obama’s statement “does not change anything on the substance of the issue. … For us in Maryland, the vote on marriage has nothing to do with politics.”  The Washington Archdiocese said the word “‘marriage’ describes the exclusive and lifelong union of one man and one woman open to generating and nurturing children. Other unions exist, but they are not marriage.”

On Tuesday in North Carolina voters overwhelmingly rejected legalizing same-sex marriage and civil unions in their state by approving a constitutional amendment that defines marriage as being between one man and one woman.

Social media craze Pinterest gets a loftier purpose

Ever since Pinterest, a digital bulletin board, debuted a couple of years ago, individuals, organizations and businesses have found creative ways to show off their wares, wants, services or work.

Pinterest, the latest craze in social media, operates much like a board where users “pin” photos (or text) of what they love and others can see it in a digital collection.

While most people pin clothing or food they like, home goods they want or the latest arts and crafts project they completed, Catholic Relief Services recently found a loftier use.

“We want to pin your prayers,” they wrote on the recently created board.

The board is called  “Pin-A-Prayer.”

CRS is gathering prayer intentions that can be added to the collection by “pinning” a particular prayer to the CRS board or typing “@Catholic Relief Services” in the text of a prayer intention entry by those who use Pinterest.

Villanova student’s ‘arrivederci’ to internship in Rome

By Bridget Kelly

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — I never thought I would study abroad in Italy. I also never thought I would intern in one of the holiest places in the world.

However after being chosen to participate in the Vatican Internship Experience by the Villanova University Communications Department, I could not contain my excitement. Strangely enough, I was originally supposed to intern at the Pontifical Council for Social Communications office, but — happily enough — I ended up working in the Catholic News Service Rome Bureau.

During the first week of my internship, the CNS photographer reassured me, “You’ll learn so much here. You won’t regret interning at CNS, trust me.” And boy was he right! From attending papal audiences, to sitting in the press box at the 2012 consistory for the creation of new cardinals, my time here has truly been a dream come true. Not to mention attending interesting press conferences, visiting and filming numerous churches, spending Easter at St. Peter’s Basilica with the pope, getting an exclusive look inside the Sistine Chapel, and having my articles published on the CNS website. Thanks to CNS, I have been fortunate enough to get a sneak peek inside the Vatican, and not many people can say!

One of my favorite assignments at CNS was going with the videographer to film a Stations of the Cross art exhibit at Sant’Anselmo Church on Aventine Hill. Not only was I able to shadow the videographer, but I was also able to visit the gorgeous orange grove near the church! Being able to learn outside the office has been a wonderful opportunity.

Interning, studying and living in Rome has been a surreal experience. I have been blessed to be a part of such an amazing news agency and have learned how a professional office works. CNS took an inexperienced writer and taught her not just the basics of journalism, but also what a news agency expects. Even though I may have struggled at times, it was a learning experience through which I was able to I strengthen my communications capabilities as well as my journalism and video skills. Being able to intern in such an ideal environment has been rewarding and will certainly help me in my future career.

On my last day as the CNS spring 2012 intern, I am left with bittersweet emotions. I will never forget my time at CNS and am very fortunate for this rewarding and life changing experience.

Bridget Kelly was an intern in the CNS Rome bureau while attending Villanova University’s Rome program.

Marking Mary’s month in Rome

By Bridget Kelly
Catholic News Service

Women pray at a Marian shrine in Rome’s Trastevere neighborhood. (CNS/Bridget Kelly)

ROME — The month of May is associated with motherhood and new life, and the church dedicates the month to honoring and praising the Virgin Mary. Marian shrines in Rome receive special attention during the spring season because devotees and pilgrims visit the shrines, leaving flowers and gifts for the Madonna.

Street-corner shrines in Rome honor Mary and are places of prayer and thanksgiving. The Marian shrines are built into walls and the sides of buildings, allowing those who pass by to view the Madonna from various angles. Each shrine is unique and varied in color, size and shape.

Stories of miracles surround some of the “Madonnelle” shrines and are very popular with pilgrims who tend to pray the rosary at the sites. Faithful Romans visit their neighborhood shrine daily and offer thanksgiving. They also leave flowers and light candles at the shrines in order to thank and honor the Virgin.

Bridget Kelly is an intern in the CNS Rome bureau while she attends Villanova University’s Rome program. Her video story on the street shrines can be found here.

Video: John XXIII’s secretary on decision to call Vatican II

Don’t miss this week’s Vatican Report video from our Rome bureau featuring an interview with the colorful, 96-year-old former personal secretary to Blessed John XXIII, Archbishop Loris Capovilla, on the pope’s decision to convene the Second Vatican Council.