Vatican City, 3 April 2013 (VIS) – Following is the calendar of celebrations scheduled to be presided over by the Holy Father in the months of April and May, 2013.
7 April, Second Sunday of Easter, or Divine Mercy Sunday: 5:30pm, Mass in the Basilica of St. John Lateran for the Bishop of Rome to take possession of the Roman cathedra.
14 April, Sunday:5:30pm, Mass in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside-the-Walls
21 April, Sunday:9:30am, Mass and priestly ordinations in St. Peter's Basilica.
28 April, Sunday:10:00am, Mass and confirmations in St. Peter's Square.
Vatican City, 3 April 2013 (VIS) – On the eighth anniversary of the death of Blessed John Paul II yesterday, Pope Francis visited his tomb in St. Peter's Basilica. The Holy Father—accompanied by Cardinal Angelo Comastri, archpriest of the Vatican Basilica, and Monsignor Alfred Xuereb, his personal secretary—prayed for a long while before Blessed John Paul II's tomb in the St. Sebastian Chapel and then also stopped at the tombs of Blessed John XXIII and St. Pius X.
“Like his visit to the tomb of St. Peter and the Vatican Grottoes,” reads a note from the Press Office of the Holy See, “this afternoon's visit to the Basilica expresses the profound spiritual continuity of the Petrine Ministry of the Popes that Francis lives and feels intensely. This is also evident in the meeting and the frequent phone calls with his predecessor, Benedict XVI.”
Vatican City, 3 April 2013 (VIS) – This past Monday afternoon, 1 April, the Pope visited the tomb of St. Peter, which is located in the necropolis under the Vatican Basilica. He stayed to pray in the Clementine Chapel (Chapel of St. Peter), the closest place to the burial of the first Apostle, which is found directly under the Basilica's central altar and the cupola.
Vatican City, 3 April 2013 (VIS) – On the occasion of the celebration yesterday, 2 April, of the Sixth World Autism Awareness Day, Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers, published the following message:
“Dearest brothers and sisters, on the occasion of the Sixth World Autism Awareness Day, which this year takes place during the liturgical period of the Easter festivities, the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers intends to express the solicitude of the Church for autistic people and their families, inviting Christian communities and people of good will to express authentic solidarity towards them.”
Vatican City, 1 April 2013 (VIS) – At noon today, Pope Francis appeared at the window of his study to pray the Regina Coeli with the numerous faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.
“Good morning and Happy Easter to you all,” he said. “Thank you for coming today, in such large numbers, to share the joy of Easter, the central mystery of our faith. May the power of Christ's resurrection reach every person—especially those who are suffering—and every place that is in need of trust and hope.”
Vatican City, 3 April 2013 (VIS) – The Pontifical Biblical Commission will celebrate its annual plenary session from 8 to 12 April at the Domus Sanctae Marthae in Vatican City under the presidency of Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Muller. Fr. Klemens Stock, S.J., secretary general of the commission, will directing the assembly's work sessions.
Vatican City, 31 March 2013 (VIS) – At 10:15 this morning, Easter Sunday, the Holy Father Francis celebrated the Mass of the Lord's Resurrection in St. Peter's Square. Faithful from Rome and pilgrims from around the world participated in the celebration, which began with the "Resurrexit" rite—in which an icon of the Risen Lord, placed next to the papal altar, is opened and venerated to recall St. Peter's witness of the resurrection. The Pope did not give a homily since immediately after the Mass he gave his Easter message and “Urbi et Orbi” blessing (to the city and to the world).
In honour of the feast, St. Peter's Square was decorated with splendid floral arrangements. More than 40,000 flowers, donated by Dutch horticulturists, transformed the area around the altar into a magnificent garden. Yellow daffodils and white lilies highlighted, the colours of Easter and the papal flag that represent the purity of Jesus' sacrifice and the glory of his resurrection. The pink flowers—delphinium and cherry blossoms—symbolized the light of the risen Christ who destroys darkness.
Vatican City, 31 March 2013 (VIS) – Yesterday at 8:30 in the evening, the Holy Father presided at the Easter Vigil in St. Peter's Basilica. The liturgy began in the church atrium with a blessing of the new fire and the preparation of the Paschal candle. After processing to the altar with the lit candle and the singing of the “Exsultet”, the celebration continued with the Liturgy of the Word, the Baptismal Liturgy, and the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
During the Vigil, the Pope administered the sacraments of Christian initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist) to four catechumens: one from Italy, one from Albania, one from Russia, and one from the United States. After the Gospel was read, the Holy Father dedicated his homily to discussing the holy women who went to the tomb and found it empty. “We are afraid of God's surprises! He always surprises us!” Following is the full text of his homily:
Vatican City, 30 March 2013 (VIS) – The Pope's general prayer intention for April is: "That the public, prayerful celebration of faith may give life to the faithful."
His mission intention is: "That mission churches may be signs and instruments of hope and resurrection.”
Vatican City, 30 March 2013 (VIS) – At 5:00pm in St. Peter's Basilica yesterday, Good Friday, the Holy Father presided over the celebration of the Lord's Passion. After the Liturgy of the Word—in which we heard the account of the Passion according to St. John—and the homily, the universal prayers were recited. The rite continued with the adoration of the Cross and ended with communion.
Hours later, at 9:15pm, Pope Francis presided for the first time over the Way of the Cross at Rome's Colosseum. This year, the meditations and prayers accompanying the stations were written by young Lebanese Catholics, guided by Cardinal Bechara Boutros Rai, O.M.M., Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites, Lebanon. The images in the booklet reproduced 19th century illustrations of the Way of the Cross made by an unknown Franciscan in Bethlehem. Over a hundred thousand people, many of them youth as well as a large group of Lebanese pilgrims, attended the event.
Vatican City, 30 March 2013 (VIS) – From 5:15pm until 6:40 this afternoon, there will be an extraordinary exposition of the Holy Shroud in the Cathedral of Turin, Italy. The initiative is part of the Year of Faith that was proclaimed by Pope Benedict XVI and will be broadcast by the Italian television channel, RAI1.
For the occasion, Pope Francis recorded a video message, the text of which we offer below.
“Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I join all of you gathered before the Holy Shroud, and I thank the Lord who, through modern technology, offers us this possibility.”
Vatican City, 29 March 2013 (VIS) – At 5:00pm yesterday afternoon, Holy Thursday, Pope Francis left the Vatican to go to the Casal del Marmo Penitential Institute for Minors where he celebrated the “in Coena Domine”—the Lord's Supper—Mass, which is the first of the Easter Triduum. Around fifty of the boys and girls detained at the juvenile centre located on the outskirts of Rome were in attendance. The Pope washed the feet of ten boys and two girls and, in his homily, said that their obligation is to help others “as a priest and as a bishop should be at your service. It is a duty that comes from my heart.”
At the moment of washing their feet, Pope Francis kneeled six times, each time washing the feet of the young people in front of him. The Holy Father began by washing their feet, then dried them, and finally kissed them. The girls whose feet he washed were an Italian and an Eastern European. Following is the full text of the homily that the Pope delivered after the Gospel was read.
Vatican City, 29 March 2013 (VIS) – The Vatican website has released a new version of the papal coat of arms that incorporates a few changes. The updated image is available at our blogsite: http://visnews-en.blogspot.it/
For the Marian symbol, instead of a five-pointed star, there is now an eight-pointed star, which also represents the 8 beatitudes. The nard flower representing St. Joseph, patron of the Universal Church, has been made to more closely represent that flower. Finally, Francis' motto “miserando atque eligendo” underneath the shield has been placed upon a scroll of white parchment with a red backside. The Jesuit emblem remains the same. More details on the coat of arms can be found in the “FRANCIS' COAT OF ARMS” notice of the bulletin of 19 March: http://visnews-en.blogspot.it/2013/03/francis-coat-of-arms.html
Vatican City, 28 March 2013 (VIS) – This morning, Pope Francis warned Catholic priests around the world that “the reason why some priests grow dissatisfied, lose heart and become in some sense collectors of antiques or novelties” comes from seldom going out of oneself, which leads to “missing out on the best of our people”. Instead, he strongly urged priests to be “shepherds who have the smell of their sheep'.”
The solemn Holy Thursday Chrism Mass celebrated in the Vatican Basilica opens the Paschal Triduum of Holy Week. During the course of the Mass, celebrated in all the churches and cathedrals throughout the world, priests renew the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience that they made at their ordination. Also, the oil used to anoint catechumens and the oil used to anoint the sick as well as the chrism oil—olive oil scented with balsam—used to anoint those being baptised, confirmed, or receiving Holy Orders is blessed.