Pope Benedict XVI Blog
Sunday, March 30, 2008
Vatican City, Mar 30, 2008 / 10:36 am (CNA).- Speaking from the Apostolic Palace at Castel Gandolfo, Pope Benedict XVI announced today that he will preside over Mass in memory of John Paul II, who died three years ago on the eve of Divine Mercy Sunday. The Mass this Wednesday will open the First World Congress on Apostolic Divine Mercy in Rome.
Before praying the Regina Caeli, the Holy Father spoke about the significance of Divine Mercy Sunday.
Pope Benedict recalled that John Paul II designated the Sunday after Easter as Divine Mercy Sunday, and did so at the same time Sister Faustina Kowalska was canonized. The Polish sister, who died in 1938, is known as the messenger of God's Mercy, since it was through her diary that the message of mercy came to be known to the world, even before it was approved by the Holy See.
Saturday, March 29, 2008
New York Daily News
BY ALISON GENDAR
DAILY NEWS POLICE BUREAU CHIEF
Saturday, March 29th 2008, 4:00 AM
The bulletproof "Popemobile" will carry Pope Benedict around the city during his three-day visit next month so average New Yorkers - excluded from ticket-only events - get a chance to see him.
Benedict will ride in the specially designed vehicle from an invitation-only Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral on Saturday, April 19, to an upper East Side residence where he will stay during his visit, authorities said Friday.
"That will be an opportunity for people to see His Holiness," said Joseph Zwilling, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of New York.
The white Popemobile also will be driven around the field at Yankee Stadium, where Benedict will perform a Mass on April 20, and will be used during his stay at St. Joseph's Seminary in Yonkers.
Today is Easter Saturday, the ninth day of the Divine Mercy Novena, where we bring all those souls who have become lukewarm and immerse them in the ocean of His mercy.
DAY 9 (Easter Saturday) - The souls who have become lukewarm
"Today bring to Me the Souls who have become Lukewarm, and immerse them in the abyss of My mercy. These souls wound My Heart most painfully. My soul suffered the most dreadful loathing in the Garden of Olives because of lukewarm souls. They were the reason I cried out: 'Father, take this cup away from Me, if it be Your will.' For them, the last hope of salvation is to run to My mercy."
Most compassionate Jesus, You are Compassion Itself. I bring lukewarm souls into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart. In this fire of Your pure love, let these tepid souls who, like corpses, filled You with such deep loathing, be once again set aflame. O Most Compassionate Jesus, exercise the omnipotence of Your mercy and draw them into the very ardor of Your love, and bestow upon them the gift of holy love, for nothing is beyond Your power.
Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon lukewarm souls who are nonetheless enfolded in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. Father of Mercy, I beg You by the bitter Passion of Your Son and by His three-hour agony on the Cross: Let them, too, glorify the abyss of Your mercy. Amen.
Friday, March 28, 2008
Vatican City, 28 March (AKI) - Pope Benedict XVI is a big fan of buffalo mozzarella cheese, and eats it often reported Italian daily Il Messaggero on Friday.
Pope Benedict XVI reportedly likes simple dishes and often receives buffalo mozzarella cheese as a gift from bishops from the Campania region in southern Italy where the best buffalo mozzarella is produced.
The cheese is given to Benedict's policemen, who later 'discreetly' take the cheese to his apartment, Il Messaggero reported.
"Today bring to Me the Souls who are in the prison of Purgatory, and immerse them in the abyss of My mercy. Let the torrents of My Blood cool down their scorching flames. All these souls are greatly loved by Me. They are making retribution to My justice. It is in your power to bring them relief. Draw all the indulgences from the treasury of My Church and offer them on their behalf. Oh, if you only knew the torments they suffer, you would continually offer for them the alms of the spirit and pay off their debt to My justice."
Most Merciful Jesus, You Yourself have said that You desire mercy; so I bring into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart the souls in Purgatory, souls who are very dear to You, and yet, who must make retribution to Your justice. May the streams of Blood and Water which gushed forth from Your Heart put out the flames of Purgatory, that there, too, the power of Your mercy may be celebrated.
Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the souls suffering in Purgatory, who are enfolded in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. I beg You, by the sorrowful Passion of Jesus Your Son, and by all the bitterness with which His most sacred Soul was flooded: Manifest Your mercy to the souls who are under Your just scrutiny. Look upon them in no other way but only through the Wounds of Jesus, Your dearly beloved Son; for we firmly believe that there is no limit to Your goodness and compassion. Amen.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
With the third anniversary of the late Pontiff’s death just a week away, Cardinal Saraiva reminisced about the events of those days. “We all remember the day of Pope Wojtyla’s funeral. We remember the shouts of ‘Santo subito!’ ‘Sainthood now!’ That phrase, that cry in St. Peter’s Square expressed what people were thinking. It meant that John Paul II genuinely had a true reputation for holiness among the faithful. And we know that is essential in the process of beatification,” he explained.
“If that reputation for holiness did not exist, a cause for beatification could not even begin,” Cardinal Saraiva stressed, noting that the process goes through a series of phases.
“Each process has two fundamental phases. One diocesan—local—and the other what we call ‘Roman,’ at the level of the Holy See. The diocesan phase was concluded on April 2 last year. Once the diocesan phase is closed, the Roman phase is opened immediately without delay, with the official handing over of all the documentation gathered during the diocesan phase to my dicastery.”
DAY 7 (Easter Thursday) - The souls who especially venerate and glorify Jesus' mercy
Today bring to Me the Souls who especially venerate and glorify My Mercy*, and immerse them in My mercy. These souls sorrowed most over my Passion and entered most deeply into My spirit. They are living images of My Compassionate Heart. These souls will shine with a special brightness in the next life. Not one of them will go into the fire of hell. I shall particularly defend each one of them at the hour of death.
Most Merciful Jesus, whose Heart is Love Itself, receive into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart the souls of those who particularly extol and venerate the greatness of Your mercy. These souls are mighty with the very power of God Himself. In the midst of all afflictions and adversities they go forward, confident of Your mercy; and united to You, O Jesus, they carry all mankind on their shoulders. These souls will not be judged severely, but Your mercy will embrace them as they depart from this life.
Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the souls who glorify and venerate Your greatest attribute, that of Your fathomless mercy, and who are enclosed in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. These souls are a living Gospel; their hands are full of deeds of mercy, and their hearts, overflowing with joy, sing a canticle of mercy to You, O Most High! I beg You O God:
Show them Your mercy according to the hope and trust they have placed in You. Let there be accomplished in them the promise of Jesus, who said to them that during their life, but especially at the hour of death, the souls who will venerate this fathomless mercy of His, He, Himself, will defend as His glory. Amen.
*The text leads one to conclude that in the first prayer directed to Jesus, Who is the Redeemer, it is "victim" souls and contemplatives that are being prayed for; those persons, that is, that voluntarily offered themselves to God for the salvation of their neighbor (see Col 1:24; 2 Cor 4:12). This explains their close union with the Savior and the extraordinary efficacy that their invisible activity has for others. In the second prayer, directed to the Father from whom comes "every worthwhile gift and every genuine benefit,"we recommend the "active" souls, who promote devotion to The Divine Mercy and exercise with it all the other works that lend themselves to the spiritual and material uplifting of their brethren.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
DAY 6 (Easter Wednesday) - The meek and humble souls and the souls of children
Today bring to Me the Meek and Humble Souls and the Souls of Little Children, and immerse them in My mercy. These souls most closely resemble My Heart. They strengthened Me during My bitter agony. I saw them as earthly Angels, who will keep vigil at My altars. I pour out upon them whole torrents of grace. I favor humble souls with My confidence.
Most Merciful Jesus, You yourself have said, "Learn from Me for I am meek and humble of heart." Receive into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart all meek and humble souls and the souls of little children. These souls send all heaven into ecstasy and they are the heavenly Father's favorites. They are a sweet-smelling bouquet before the throne of God; God Himself takes delight in their fragrance. These souls have a permanent abode in Your Most Compassionate Heart, O Jesus, and they unceasingly sing out a hymn of love and mercy.
Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon meek souls, upon humble souls, and upon little children who are enfolded in the abode which is the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. These souls bear the closest resemblance to Your Son. Their fragrance rises from the earth and reaches Your very throne. Father of mercy and of all goodness, I beg You by the love You bear these souls and by the delight You take in them: Bless the whole world, that all souls together may sing out the praises of Your mercy for endless ages. Amen.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Marco Di Lauro / Getty
Monday, Mar. 24, 2008
By JEFF ISRAELY
Magdi Allam is Italy's answer to Ayaan Hirsan Ali, the Somalian-born Dutch writer and politician forced to live under police protection for her repeatedly stark public criticism of Islam. Like Hirsan Ali, the Egyptian-born Allam was raised in a Muslim family, before emigrating as a teenager to Europe, where he eventually became famous for railing against what he sees as fundamental flaws in his native religion. The Rome-based journalist has faced repeated death threats from Islamic radicals, and travels to speaking engagements in Italy and abroad with an armed security detail. Needless to say, neither Allam nor Hirsan Ali show signs of toning down their criticism.
A recurring topic of Allam's articles were cases of Muslims who were threatened with death for seeking to convert to Christianity. And now, Allam has himself become a Roman Catholic, converting in a baptism rite inside St. Peter's Basilica, a ceremony conducted by no less than Pope Benedict XVI. Allam has held a unique public role as the most prominent Muslim commentator — and critic of Islam — right in the Vatican's backyard. Church officials may be pleased that Allam has so publicly joined the Catholic flock, but he is unlikely to become any kind of mediator in the Vatican's attempts to start a dialogue with Islam.
Most Merciful Jesus, Goodness Itself, You do not refuse light to those who seek it of You. Receive into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart the souls of those who have separated themselves from Your Church. Draw them by Your light into the unity of the Church, and do not let them escape from the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart; but bring it about that they, too, come to glorify the generosity of Your mercy.
Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the souls of those who have separated themselves from Your Son's Church, who have squandered Your blessings and misused Your graces by obstinately persisting in their errors. Do not look upon their errors, but upon the love of Your own Son and upon His bitter Passion, which He underwent for their sake, since they, too, are enclosed in His Most Compassionate Heart. Bring it about that they also may glorify Your great mercy for endless ages. Amen.
*Our Lord's original words here were "heretics and schismatics," since He spoke to Saint Faustina within the context of her times. As of the Second Vatican Council, Church authorities have seen fit not to use those designations in accordance with the explanation given in the Council's Decree on Ecumenism (n.3). Every pope since the Council has reaffirmed that usage. Saint Faustina herself, her heart always in harmony with the mind of the Church, most certainly would have agreed. When at one time, because of the decisions of her superiors and father confessor, she was not able to execute Our Lord's inspirations and orders, she declared: "I will follow Your will insofar as You will permit me to do so through Your representative. O my Jesus " I give priority to the voice of the Church over the voice with which You speak to me" (497). The Lord confirmed her action and praised her for it.
Monday, March 24, 2008
VATICAN CITY, MARCH 23, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of Benedict XVI's Easter message delivered today at midday before he imparted his blessing "urbi et orbi" (to the city of Rome and the world).
* * *
Resurrexi, et adhuc tecum sum. Alleluia! I have risen, I am still with you. Alleluia! Dear brothers and sisters, Jesus, crucified and risen, repeats this joyful proclamation to us today: the Easter proclamation. Let us welcome it with deep wonder and gratitude!
Resurrexi et adhuc tecum sum -- I have risen, I am still with you, for ever. These words, taken from an ancient version of Psalm 138 (v. 18b), were sung at the beginning of today’s Mass. In them, at the rising of the Easter sun, the Church recognizes the voice of Jesus himself who, on rising from death, turns to the Father filled with gladness and love, and exclaims: My Father, here I am! I have risen, I am still with you, and so I shall be for ever; your Spirit never abandoned me.
In this way we can also come to a new understanding of other passages from the psalm: "If I climb the heavens, you are there; if I descend into the underworld, you are there … Even darkness is not dark for you, and the night is as clear as day; for you, darkness is like light" (Ps 138:8,12). It is true: in the solemn Easter vigil, darkness becomes light, night gives way to the day that knows no sunset. The death and resurrection of the Word of God incarnate is an event of invincible love, it is the victory of that Love which has delivered us from the slavery of sin and death. It has changed the course of history, giving to human life an indestructible and renewed meaning and value.
VATICAN CITY, MARCH 23, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of the homily Benedict XVI delivered Holy Saturday at the Mass of the Easter Vigil, celebrated in St. Peter's Basilica.
* * *
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In his farewell discourse, Jesus announced his imminent death and resurrection to his disciples with these mysterious words: "I go away, and I will come to you", he said (Jn 14:28). Dying is a "going away". Even if the body of the deceased remains behind, he himself has gone away into the unknown, and we cannot follow him (cf. Jn 13:36). Yet in Jesus’s case, there is something utterly new, which changes the world.
In the case of our own death, the "going away" is definitive, there is no return. Jesus, on the other hand, says of his death: "I go away, and I will come to you." It is by going away that he comes. His going ushers in a completely new and greater way of being present. By dying he enters into the love of the Father. His dying is an act of love. Love, however, is immortal. Therefore, his going away is transformed into a new coming, into a form of presence which reaches deeper and does not come to an end. During his earthly life, Jesus, like all of us, was tied to the external conditions of bodily existence: to a determined place and a determined time.
Bodiliness places limits on our existence. We cannot be simultaneously in two different places. Our time is destined to come to an end. And between the "I" and the "you" there is a wall of otherness. To be sure, through love we can somehow enter the other’s existence.
Nevertheless, the insurmountable barrier of being different remains in place. Yet Jesus, who is now totally transformed through the act of love, is free from such barriers and limits. He is able not only to pass through closed doors in the outside world, as the Gospels recount (cf. Jn 20:19). He can pass through the interior door separating the "I" from the "you", the closed door between yesterday and today, between the past and the future. On the day of his solemn entry into Jerusalem, when some Greeks asked to see him, Jesus replied with the parable of the grain of wheat which has to pass through death in order to bear much fruit. In this way he foretold his own destiny: these words were not addressed simply to one or two Greeks in the space of a few minutes.
Through his Cross, through his going away, through his dying like the grain of wheat, he would truly arrive among the Greeks, in such a way that they could see him and touch him through faith. His going away is transformed into a coming, in the Risen Lord’s universal manner of presence, in which he is there yesterday, today and for ever, in which he embraces all times and all places. Now he can even surmount the wall of otherness that separates the "I" from the "you". This happened with Paul, who describes the process of his conversion and his Baptism in these words: "it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me" (Gal 2:20). Through the coming of the Risen One, Paul obtained a new identity. His closed "I" was opened. Now he lives in communion with Jesus Christ, in the great "I" of believers who have become -- as he puts it -- "one in Christ" (Gal 3:28).
"Today bring to Me those who do not believe in God and those who do not know Me, I was thinking also of them during My bitter Passion, and their future zeal comforted My Heart. Immerse them in the ocean of My mercy."
Most compassionate Jesus, You are the Light of the whole world. Receive into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart the souls of those who do not believe in God and of those who as yet do not know You. Let the rays of Your grace enlighten them that they, too, together with us, may extol Your wonderful mercy; and do not let them escape from the abode which is Your Most Compassionate Heart.
Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the souls of those who do not believe in You, and of those who as yet do not know You, but who are enclosed in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. Draw them to the light of the Gospel. These souls do not know what great happiness it is to love You. Grant that they, too, may extol the generosity of Your mercy for endless ages. Amen.
*Our Lord's original words here were "the pagans." Since the pontificate of Pope John XXIII, the Church has seen fit to replace this term with clearer and more appropriate terminology.
Sunday, March 23, 2008
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VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict XVI rejoiced over conversions to Christianity a day after he baptized a prominent Muslim, marking Easter Sunday in a rain-drenched appearance he used to renew calls for peace in Iraq, the Holy Land and Tibet.
A white canopy on the steps of St. Peter's Basilica protected the 80-year-old pontiff from a downpour while thousands of pilgrims, tourists and Romans braved thunder and wind-whipped rain to attend Easter Mass in the square.
On Easter, Christians celebrate their belief in the resurrection of Jesus two days after he was crucified. Thanks to the apostles' preaching about the resurrection, "thousands and thousands of persons converted to Christianity," Benedict said.
Today is Easter Sunday, the third day of the Divine Mercy Novena, where we immerse all devout and faithful souls in the ocean of God's mercy.
DAY 3 (Easter Sunday) - All devout and faithful souls"Today bring to Me all Devout and Faithful Souls, and immerse them in the ocean of My mercy. These souls brought me consolation on the Way of the Cross. They were a drop of consolation in the midst of an ocean of bitterness."
Most Merciful Jesus, from the treasury of Your mercy, You impart Your graces in great abundance to each and all. Receive us into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart and never let us escape from It. We beg this grace of You by that most wondrous love for the heavenly Father with which Your Heart burns so fiercely.
Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon faithful souls, as upon the inheritance of Your Son. For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, grant them Your blessing and surround them with Your constant protection. Thus may they never fail in love or lose the treasure of the holy faith, but rather, with all the hosts of Angels and Saints, may they glorify Your boundless mercy for endless ages. Amen.
Saturday, March 22, 2008
Posted March 22, 2008
During Holy Week, Christians honor sacrifices of Jesus
By Cheryl Sherry
Post-Crescent staff writer
Christians around the world observed Good Friday, commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
In Rome, Pope Benedict XVI presided over the Way of the Cross procession at the Colosseum during a driving rainstorm, but did not carry the cross as planned during the tradition, which was dedicated this year to religious freedom.
The pope, who gripped the cross briefly at the end of the procession, blessed the crowd of thousands being drenched by the rain and buffeted by gusty winds and told them: "Thank you for being patient under the rain. Happy Easter to you."
"It's the day Christ died on the cross," the Rev. Dee Sim, pastor of Our Redeemer Lutheran Church in Menasha, said of Good Friday. Christ died for our sins so we would have new life in him. It is similar to the whole idea of baptism, she said.
DAY 2 (Holy Saturday) - The souls of priests and religious
"Today bring to Me the Souls of Priests and Religious, and immerse them in My unfathomable mercy. It was they who gave me strength to endure My bitter Passion. Through them as through channels My mercy flows out upon mankind."
Most Merciful Jesus, from whom comes all that is good, increase Your grace in men and women consecrated to Your service,* that they may perform worthy works of mercy; and that all who see them may glorify the Father of Mercy who is in heaven.
Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the company of chosen ones in Your vineyard -- upon the souls of priests and religious; and endow them with the strength of Your blessing. For the love of the Heart of Your Son in which they are enfolded, impart to them Your power and light, that they may be able to guide others in the way of salvation and with one voice sing praise to Your boundless mercy for ages without end. Amen.
* In the original text, Saint Faustina uses the pronoun "us" since she was offering this prayer as a consecrated religious sister. The wording adapted here is intended to make the prayer suitable for universal use.
Friday, March 21, 2008
Pope Benedict XVI, right, celebrates a Mass for the unveiling and adoration of the Cross in St. Peter's Basilica, at the Vatican, on Friday, March 21, 2008. The pontiff is set to take part in the Good Friday Way of the Cross procession (Via Crucis) at Rome's ancient Colosseum, where he will carry a lightweight cross for the last three stations. The evening Via Crucis procession at the ancient Colosseum amphitheater is a Roman tradition that draws a large crowd of faithful, including many of the pilgrims who flock to the Italian capital for Holy Week ceremonies before Easter Sunday.
(AP Photo/Plinio Lepri)
Today, Good Friday, the day our Lord suffered and died to gain our salvation, is also the first day of the Divine Mercy Novena.
Jesus asked that the Feast of the Divine Mercy be preceded by a Novena to the Divine Mercy which would begin on Good Friday. He gave St. Faustina an intention to pray for on each day of the Novena, saving for the last day the most difficult intention of all, the lukewarm and indifferent of whom He said:
"These souls cause Me more suffering than any others; it was from such souls that My soul felt the most revulsion in the Garden of Olives. It was on their account that I said: 'My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass Me by.' The last hope of salvation for them is to flee to My Mercy."
In her diary, St. Faustina wrote that Jesus told her:
"On each day of the novena you will bring to My heart a different group of souls and you will immerse them in this ocean of My mercy ... On each day you will beg My Father, on the strength of My passion, for the graces for these souls."
The different souls prayed for on each day of the novena are:
DAY 1 (Good Friday) - All mankind, especially sinners
Thursday, March 20, 2008
The Mystical Supper, Icon by Simon Ushakov (1685).
Just as You showed Your disciples how to serve each other through the washing of their feet, may we make our offering to You, Lord, by humbly serving one another in love.
EWTN - The Holy Season of Lent
Thursday of Holy Week
"But if I washed your feet...then you must wash each other’s feet." (John 13:14)
In April of 1945 American artillery in the town of Siegburg, Germany, was shelling a nearby village, in which there were about 20 German soldiers. The natives were in constant danger of being hit by bullets from either side. Toward evening of April 12 the people persuaded the German soldiers to cease fire. Next morning the village priest carried a white flag to the American outpost to inform the commander that the German soldiers had gone and the civilian population had no desire to resist further. Instructions were given to fly white flags from all the houses. The question uppermost in the minds of the towns-people was: How will the Americans treat us?
They had heard terrible tales of cruelty on the part of the Russians. How would these conquerors act?
The Americans began a thorough search for weapons and German soldiers. Two soldiers armed with pistols came to a certain three- room home. They stopped short in the living room before a hand- carved family altar. Into the bedroom they went, to find there a beautiful crucifix. The soldiers noticed the cross. They stopped, took off their steel helmets, changed their automatics from right hand to left, and respectfully made the sign of the cross.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Even in the face of terrible misfortune and suffering, true happiness is possible as long as one continues to have hope in God, Pope Benedict XVI said.
When personal disaster strikes, only true friends stick around, and one of those true friends is God, he said.
At his March 12 general audience at the Vatican, Pope Benedict discussed two early Christian writers, Boethius and Cassiodorus.
Boethius, born in Rome around 480, was imprisoned, tortured and executed at 44 years of age, the pope said. The Christian martyr wrote his best-known work of philosophy while he was in jail, "De Consolatione Philosophiae."
The pope called him a "symbol of a huge number of detainees unjustly" imprisoned throughout history and the world today.
The Christian writer struggled to "find consolation, find light, find wisdom" during his imprisonment and realized that those harsh conditions allowed him to discover what things in life were superficial.
Monday, March 10, 2008
The Holy Father also repeated his appeals for peace in the Holy Land and the release of a kidnapped Iraqi archbishop.
After returning from an apostolic visit at the San Lorenzo International Youth Center, where he celebrated Mass Sunday morning, Pope Benedict appeared in the window of his study to recite the midday Angelus with thousands of pilgrims in St. Peter's Square.
Before reciting the Angelus, the Holy Father offered a reflection on today's Gospel.
Recounting the story of Lazarus, Pope Benedict said this reading "shows Jesus as true man and true God."
Tuesday, March 04, 2008
by Sylvia Poggioli
Listen Now [2 min 3 sec]
Morning Edition, March 4, 2008 · Muslim representatives and Vatican officials meet Tuesday for talks that will hopefully lead to an unprecedented Catholic-Islamic meeting later this year focusing on terrorism. The meetings are an attempt to improve relations after a 2006 speech by Pope Benedict XVI in which he quoted an ancient emperor's criticism of Islam.
Monday, March 03, 2008
Monday, March 03, 2008
Pope Benedict XVI has a crowded agenda for his first visit to the United States as pope. Here's a look at where he'll be and what he'll be doing from his arrival to his departure Tuesday, April 15 Arrives at Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington, D.C., where, as a head of state, he will be welcomed by President Bush and First Lady Laura Bush and the Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Pietro Sambi, leader of the Vatican's U.S. diplomatic corps Wednesday, April 16 Morning meeting at the White House with President Bush. Evening meeting with U.S. bishops at the Basilica of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, on the grounds of Catholic University of America Thursday, April 17 Morning mass at Washington Nationals Stadium. Afternoon meeting at Catholic University with presidents of Catholic universities and diocesan heads of education. Later, a meeting with representatives of other religions at the John Paul II Cultural Center Friday, April 18 Morning arrival at JFK Airport, met by Cardinal Edward Egan and Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of the Diocese of Brooklyn. Helicopter flight to United Nations to address the General Assembly. Lunch at the Manhattan residence of Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the Vatican's permanent observer to the United Nations. Afternoon address to ecumenical clergy at the Church of Saint Joseph in Manhattan Saturday, April 19 Morning mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral for priests, deacons and members of religious orders. Lunch at the cardinal's residence. Afternoon prayer service with special-needs youth at St. Joseph's Seminary in Yonkers, followed by an outdoor youth rally on the seminary grounds Sunday, April 20 Morning prayer service at Ground Zero with 24 people who survived the terrorist attacks or lost loved ones, and first responders. Afternoon mass at Yankee Stadium. Evening departure from JFK.
Sister Lucia with Pope John Paul II in 1991
Paulo Trindade / AFP / Getty
Friday, Feb. 29, 2008
By DAVID VAN BIEMA
It is a Vatican rule: candidates for sainthood wait five years beyond their deaths before the Catholic Church begins its investigation of their "heroic virtue," the first step toward canonization. Only two figures in recent history have received a fast-track exemption: Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul II, both of them superstars in the Catholic and wider popular firmament. So, when the Vatican recently added Sister Lucia dos Santos, who died in 2005 at age 97, to this list, many wondered why she had been put in that esteemed company.
The answer is that to the men now running the church, Sister Lucia meant a great deal. She was the longest-lived of three children to whom an apparition of the Virgin Mary appeared in 1917 in the Portuguese parish of Fatima. And, as Vatican Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone makes clear in his upcoming book, The Last Secret of Fatima (May, Doubleday) she was the key human figure in a drama that eventually transformed the very nature of John Paul II's image of himself, and of his papacy. Lucia's superstar days may have waned in the memory of post-Vatican II American Catholics, but for people like Bertone and Pope Benedict XVI, who made the journey with the late John Paul, she remains an important symbol.
The story of Fatima began in 1915, when three shepherd children were first visited by what they thought was an angel. By 1917, a figure who identified herself as the Virgin appeared to them, eventually delivering a message for humankind. The children became a focus of massive interest, and in October of that year, the Virgin's presence seem to be confirmed for many others when a crowd of 70,000 — mostly Catholics, some skeptics — saw the sun appear to zigzag in the sky as the Virgin again addressed the children. Fatima almost immediately became a global pilgrimage site.