22 April 2014

Go to Orvieto!

The Duomo in Orvieto

A month or so ago, some friends were coming into town and asked about the possibility of a day trip to Rome.  I had my own thoughts, but asked a few other Americans here what they thought.  A number of them suggested Orvieto, which I had never been to see.  My friends never got the chance to go, but I finally did, and it was a great trip.

Orvieto is in the midst of a Jubilee Year.  The Church was built by Pope Urban VI in the 14th century to house a Eucharistic miracle.  Last year was the 750th anniversary of that miracle--The famous Corporal of Bolsena.  In 1263, a priest who began to doubt the truth of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist was saying Mass.  During the Mass, the host in his hand began to bleed drops of blood, which were visible to a number of people attending Mass.  Those drops stained the corporal (the small square cloth the priest uses under the host and chalice while saying Mass).  The corporal was preserved as a relic, and remains enthroned in a side chapel of the Duomo.

The Chapel of the Corporal
in the Duomo in Orvieto
This miracle is important to Dominicans because of its indirect tie to St. Thomas Aquinas.  In 1264, Pope Urban IV heard of this miracle of the bleeding host.  Inspired by it, he ordered that a new feast day be inserted into the liturgical calendar in honor of the Blessed Sacrament -- the feast of Corpus Christi.  The story is that he asked the two most scholarly friars, the Dominican St. Thomas Aquinas and the Franciscan St. Bonaventure, to compose the prayers and hymn for the new feast.  St. Thomas presented his first, after which Bonaventure threw his into the fire, so great was Thomas's poetry and theology.  Thus, Orvieto can be considered the birthplace of the feast of Corpus Christ, and St. Thomas its primary author.

For the Jubilee year, the Diocese has created a pilgrimage office.  They had received the permission of Pope Benedict XVI to open a Holy Door for pilgrims into the Duomo as well.  Certainly, if you are planning to go on pilgrimage to Rome this year, you should definitely also make pilgrimage to Orvieto.  It just over an hour by train from Rome's Termini station, and the train tickets are not terrible expensive.  From the train station, you take a small funicular railway up to the town on the hill, which costs little over 1 Euro.

Happy Easter

The Paschal Candle at the Basilica San Clemente:

21 April 2014

Papal Mass for Easter

I attended the Papal Easter Mass in the clergy section, up in the area set up for the sanctuary outside St. Peter's Basilica.  The seats were directly behind the Cardinals, Bishops, and Canons of St. Peter's.  In other words, they were pretty good seats.  As this year Easter coincided in both the West and the East (the East still dates Easter according to the Julian calendar), the Gospel was sung in both Latin and Greek.

It was a perfect Roman spring day.  There was not a cloud in the sky, and an occasional cool breeze that made the day very comfortable.  This was in stark contrast to the noisy rainstorm the night before.  A perfect Easter morning.

After Mass, the Pope immediately removed the liturgical vestments to enter the Popemobile.  He took a short ride through the crowd, and then up to the old Papal apartments to deliver the traditional Urbi et Orbi address.

For even more pictures and video of the Easter Mass, see the Vatican website.

By the way, is it so hard to dress decently for Mass with the Pope?  I mean, am I so old fashioned that I'm the only one who thinks wearing skin-tight blue jeans is inappropriate for a Papal Mass?  Red pants and an untucked blue shirt?  Wearing a baseball cap throughout the Eucharistic prayer?  I mean, even Pope Francis--known for his liturgical simplicity--still wears and alb and chasuble for Mass.  If he can dress up, surely we can.

18 April 2014

Stations of the Cross with Pope Francis

As has been the case for a number of years now, the Pope comes to the Colosseum for the annual Good Friday Stations of the Cross.  Until I came to Rome, I thought the Pope and people were inside the Colosseum.  They are not.  Across from the Colosseum is a bit of a plateau with the ruins of an old basilica.  They set up a tent for the Holy Father there, facing the Colosseum.  Because of the scaffolding that now covers 1/4 of the Colosseum, there were able to put a large monitor up to watch the events.  The actual procession of the stations goes inside the Colosseum and then back out.  This occurs shortly after the Liturgy of the Lord's Passion at St. Peter's.  The Pope looked very, very tired.

This year, the meditations for the Stations of the Cross were prepared by His Eminence, Msgr. Giancarlo Maria Bregantini, Archbishop of Campobasso-Boiano. A PDF of the official  booklet of the Stations can be found here and the English translations of the meditations may be found here.

17 April 2014

San Clemente - Altar of Repose

Below are pictures of the Altar of Repose set up in St. Cyril's chapel here at the Basilica di San Clemente.  It will be used following the Mass of the Lord's Supper this evening.