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Saturday, November 18, 2006

"We're on a mission from God" ~ The Blues Brothers, 1980.

How to Apply for an Event or Blessing from the Pope

I have had many requests since my return from Rome to discuss my visit with the Pope. It was a wonderful experience and one I will not soon forget. As you can see from my pictures, our fabulous Rick Steves tour guide, Tricia, was not only able to obtain tickets for the entire group, but she also guaranteed and delivered excellent seats.

St. Peter's Square, we wait for the Pope.
Audiences with the Pope are held just about every Wednesday morning. As you can imagine, tickets need to be reserved well ahead of time. There are a couple of easy ways of accomplishing this.

Arranging a Papal Audience by Telephone:
Talking to the Pope by phone. You can arrange an audience with the Pope through the Prefecture of the Pontifical House of the Vatican City: Tel: 011-39-06-698-83017.

Tour member, I shall call him "Frank", in prayer and contemplation, during our visit with the Pope.

Arranging a Papal Audience via the Web:
Though I can’t imagine it, the Pope in a chatroom, one can obtain tickets for an audience via the web. Santa Susanna, home of the American Catholic Church in Rome, offers a means of acquiring tickets to Papal Masses and Papal Audiences by filling out a web form well in advance of your trip to Rome. They will attempt to make your tickets available for pick up at the church the evening before the event. Although rarely available, you may be able to reserve a Papal Blessing.

Vatican Dress Code:
Be aware that Vatican dress code requires no shorts or tank tops. Women's shoulders must be covered.
(This is strictly enforced)

One of our guards who kept us highly entertained by just being so darn cute. He was one of a matched set. The guy in front of him is his twin.

To Request Papal Event Tickets:
For Audience Tickets:
Pope Benedict XVI continues the tradition of the Wednesday morning General Audience. We will continue to provide tickets for those who would like them, WHEN THEY ARE NEEDED. Please follow the instructions below. The information is updated when there are changes in the Holy Father's schedule. You can also check the Vatican website for updates (www.vatican.va)

It was announced October 25, that there would NOT be an audience on Wednesday, November 1st. Instead, the Pope will celebrate Mass in the Basilica at 10:00 AM. We have been promised our usual amount of tickets, so if you have reserved them, you should be able to get one with us, unless there is a change at the last minute. This will, however, necessitate that you get to the Basilica very early (three hours would be best), as the Basilica does not hold as many people as the Piazza. As soon as the Basilica is filled, people will be invited to sit out side and watch the Mass on the TV screen, even if you have a ticket. (I threw this in to show you how close I came to NOT getting to see the Pope. My dear brother-in-law, Charles, has never seen the Pope though he DOES get a Christmas card from the Republican White House every year, thank you very much….)

There is no Papal Audience on Wednesday, November 29, as the Pope will be in Turkey (for Thanksgiving, this is appropriate). This is definite and we ask that you please not call us about this.

•Tickets are necessary for the Wednesday Papal Audiences, which are currently in St. Peter's Square (AT 10:30 AM) due to the huge numbers.

• Though things may change again, the audiences are now in St. Peter's Square at 10:00 AM. We thank you your patience and your devotion.

• Please do not call the rectory for papal audience tickets (especially at 7 AM in the morning!!!)


The Swiss Guard do not like having their pictures made and will not pose for pictures with mere tourists like myself.

It really is not necessary:

Newlywed (Sposi Novelli) Ticket Procedures have changed once again. Newlyweds (within 8 weeks of your wedding) can sit in a special section, but ONCE AGAIN (September 2006) DO HAVE TO wear their wedding attire and must have their Catholic Church Wedding Certificate with them. We are sorry that the rules keep on changing, but we can only provide you with the information as we are given it. One day we are told you do not have to wear your wedding attire, and then the next week we are told that couples not wearing their wedding outfits were TURNED AWAY! Unfortunately this sometimes has to do with the whims of the particular guards of the day, though sometimes the order comes from on high. We wish we had more control over this, but unfortunately have little power, other than to complain. We thank you your patience and your devotion.

The current Pope is Benedict XVI (born Joseph Alois Ratzinger), who was elected at the age of 78 on 19 April 2005.

The Pope (from Latin: papa, Papa, father) is the Bishop of Rome and as Successor of Saint Peter, is the head of the Catholic Church. The office of the Pope is called the Papacy; his ecclesiastical jurisdiction is called the Holy See. Early bishops occupying the See of Rome were designated Vicar of Peter; for later popes the more authoritative Vicar of Christ was substituted. In addition to his service in this spiritual role, the pope is also Head of State of the independent sovereign State of the Vatican City, a city-state and nation entirely enclaved by the city of Rome. It is generally accepted amongst most Catholic and non-Catholic historians that the institution of the papacy as it exists today developed through the centuries, after the traditional arrival of Peter in Rome c. 50.

The pope was originally chosen by those senior clergymen resident in and near Rome. Under present canon law, the pope is elected by the cardinal electors, comprising those cardinals who are under the age of 80. Cardinal electors must meet within ten days of the pope's death, and remain in seclusion until a pope has been elected. By the mid-sixteenth century, the electoral process had more or less evolved into its present form, allowing for alteration in the time between the death of the pope and the meeting of the cardinal electors. Note: In the old days, officials used to hit the pope on the head with a hammer to determine if he were dead. This is, of course, no longer done.

The election of the pope almost always takes place in the Sistine Chapel, in a meeting called a "conclave" (so called because the cardinal electors are theoretically locked in, cum clavi, until they elect a new pope). Three cardinals are chosen by lot to collect the votes of absent cardinal electors (by reason of illness), three are chosen by lot to count the votes, and three are chosen by lot to review the count of the votes. The ballots are distributed and each cardinal elector writes the name of his choice on it and pledges aloud that he is voting for "one whom under God I think ought to be elected" before folding and depositing his vote on a plate atop a large chalice placed on the altar. The plate is then used to drop the ballot into the chalice, making it difficult for any elector to insert multiple ballots. Before being read, the number of ballots are counted while still folded; if the total number of ballots does not match the number of electors, the ballots are burned unopened and a new vote is held. Assuming the number of ballots matches the number of electors, each ballot is then read aloud by the presiding Cardinal, who pierces the ballot with a needle and thread, stringing all the ballots together and tying the ends of the thread to ensure accuracy and honesty.

One of the most famous aspects of the papal election process is the means by which the results of a ballot are announced to the world. Once the ballots are counted and bound together, they are burned in a special oven erected in the Sistine Chapel, with the smoke escaping through a small chimney visible from St Peter's Square. The ballots from an unsuccessful vote are burned along with a chemical compound in order to produce black smoke, or fumata nera. (Traditionally, wet straw was used to help create the black smoke, but a number of "false alarms" in past conclaves have brought about this concession to modern chemistry.) When a vote is successful, the ballots are burned alone, sending white smoke (fumata bianca) through the chimney and announcing to the world the election of a new pope. At the end of the conclave that elected Pope Benedict XVI, church bells were also rung to signal that a new pope had been chosen.

The Dean of the College of Cardinals then asks the successfully elected Cardinal two solemn questions. First he asks, "Do you freely accept your election?" If he replies with the word "Accepto", his reign as pope begins at that instant, not at the coronation ceremony several days afterward. The Dean then asks, "By what name shall you be called?" The new pope then announces the regal name he has chosen for himself. When choosing a new name, according to tradition, a Pope can choose any name but one: Peter.

The pope's official seat or cathedral is the Basilica of St. John Lateran, and his official residence is the Palace of the Vatican. He also possesses a summer palace at Castel Gandolfo. The pope derives his Pontificate from being Bishop of Rome but is not required to live there.

Symbols of the Pope:

"Keys to the Kingdom of Heaven", the image of two keys, one gold and one silver. The silver key symbolizes the power to bind and loose on Earth, and the gold key the power to bind and loose in Heaven.

Fisherman's Ring, a gold ring decorated with a depiction of St. Peter in a boat casting his net, with the name of the reigning pope around it.

The Pope's own JumboTron.

Sedia gestatoria, a mobile throne carried by twelve footmen in red uniforms, accompanied by two attendants bearing flabella (fans made of white ostrich feathers). The use of the sedia gestatoria and of the flabella was discontinued by Pope John Paul II, with the former being replaced by the so-called Popemobile. (see picture above)

Each pope has his own Papal Coat of Arms. The flag most frequently associated with the pope is the yellow and white flag of Vatican City. This flag was first adopted in 1808, whereas the previous flag had been red and gold, the traditional colors of the Pontificate. With the recent election of Benedict XVI in 2005, his personal coat of arms eliminated the papal tiara; a mitre with three horizontal lines is used in its place.

The tomb of John Paul II, where the faithful still come to pray.

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