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No tattoos or piercings: new rules for Vatican employees

St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City. / Credit: Vlas Telino studio/Shutterstock

ACI Prensa Staff, Jul 1, 2024 / 14:50 pm (CNA).

With the publication of new regulations, Pope Francis has made it clear that employees of the Fabric of St. Peter must profess the Catholic faith, wear decent and appropriate clothing, and not have visible tattoos or piercings, among other requirements.

The Office of the Holy See has published a chirograph of Pope Francis on the Statute and Regulations of the Chapter of St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, which determines the norms for the staff of the Fabric of St. Peter, the entity responsible for the conservation and maintenance of St. Peter’s Basilica. A chirograph is an order signed by the pope.

All employees must comply, including the so-called “sampietrini,” those in charge of admittance, surveillance, cleaning, and maintenance of the Vatican basilica.

The document, published on June 29, establishes that employees must “take care of their outward appearance in accordance with the demands and customs of the work environment.”

The Holy Father thus determined that “visible tattoos on the skin and piercings are prohibited.” Likewise, employees must “wear decent clothing appropriate to the activity they are going to perform.”

It will also be mandatory for them to “profess the Catholic faith and live according to its principles” as well as demonstrate that they are married in the Church by presenting a “canonical marriage certificate.” They must also provide baptism and confirmation certificates and demonstrate that they have no criminal record.

The chirograph also states that members of the Fabric staff “commit to observing exemplary religious and moral conduct, even in their private and family life, in accordance with the doctrine of the Church.”

“Staff are required to behave politely while on duty, [be] respectful of the sacred place, and act ... properly toward others and [in consideration of] the surroundings,” the document reads.

Also, “special care will be taken to observe the pontifical secret, in accordance with current regulations.”

Likewise, without prior authorization from the archpriest in charge of the basilica, “no one may issue statements and interviews, not even through digital instruments and platforms, regarding the people, activities, environments, and guidelines of the Fabric.”

Furthermore, Article 10 establishes that the staff is obliged to strictly observe confidentiality and will not be able to “provide to anyone who does not have the right to it information about events or news that they have learned due to their work or service.”

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

Cardinals approve canonization of Carlo Acutis, date to be decided

An image of Carlo Acutis was unveiled at his beatification Mass in Assisi, Italy Oct. 10, 2020. / Credit: Daniel Ibanez/CNA

Rome Newsroom, Jul 1, 2024 / 12:10 pm (CNA).

The College of Cardinals gave a positive vote to the canonization of Blessed Carlo Acutis on Monday after Pope Francis recognized last month a second miracle attributed to the millennial’s intercession — the final step before his canonization date can be set.

Pope Francis said July 1 that the date for the canonization Mass of the computer-coding teenager will be announced at a later time, the Vatican said.  

Acutis could be canonized during the Catholic Church’s 2025 Jubilee Year.

The College of Cardinals assented to the canonizations of 15 people, including Blessed Carlo Acutis, during a consistory at the Vatican on the morning of July 1.

The pope decreed that the 14 other blesseds, which includes the 11 “Martyrs of Damascus,” will be declared saints on Sunday, Oct. 20.

Acutis, who died in 2006 at the age of 15, was beatified in a ceremony at the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi on Oct. 10, 2020.

In a May 23 decree, Pope Francis approved a second miracle through the Italian boy’s intercession, paving the way for him to become the first millennial saint.

A 21-year-old woman from Costa Rica, Valeria Valverde, was miraculously healed through Acutis’ intercession after she was close to dying from a serious head injury sustained in a bicycle accident while studying in Florence in 2022.

After the woman underwent an emergency craniotomy to reduce intracranial pressure, the family was told that her situation was very critical and that she could die at any moment, according to the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Causes of Saints.

Six days after the accident, Valverde’s mother went on a pilgrimage to Assisi to pray for the healing of her daughter at the tomb of Blessed Carlo Acutis, leaving a written note.

On that same day, Valverde began to breathe on her own and on the following day she recovered the use of her upper limbs and partly recovered her speech.

Valverde was discharged from the intensive care unit 10 days after her mother’s pilgrimage and underwent further tests that showed that the hemorrhagic right temporal cortical contusion in her brain had completely disappeared.

Contrary to medical predictions, Valverde spent only one week in physical therapy and on Sept. 2, 2022, two months after her accident, she went on a pilgrimage to Acutis’ tomb in Assisi with her mother to celebrate her complete healing.

Cardinal Becciu’s actions key question in ex-auditor’s wrongful termination appeal

Libero Milone. / Credit: Edward Pentin/EWTN/YouTube screen shot

Rome Newsroom, Jul 1, 2024 / 11:15 am (CNA).

At a July 3 appeal hearing, lawyers for former Vatican auditor Libero Milone and his recently deceased former deputy Ferruccio Panicco will argue that Cardinal Angelo Becciu acted as an official of the Vatican, not as a private individual, when he put pressure on the two men to resign their posts in 2017 under threat of prosecution.

“For me, Ferruccio’s family, and my family this is tremendously important,” Milone told journalists at a June 19 briefing about his appeal, claiming he and Panicco were “threatened and expelled for doing our jobs” and he is now essentially un-hireable due to the damage to his reputation.

Milone is preparing to go before the Vatican’s appeals court after his lawsuit was rejected earlier this year by a lower court for a “misplaced claim” against the Secretariat of State. Judges said the Secretariat of State was not liable for his ousting because he was employed by the pope and Becciu was acting alone when he forced the auditor from his job and accused him of “spying” on his personal finances.

Milone, who argues he uncovered illegal accounting practices and conflicts of interest while merely carrying out his remit to audit Vatican finances, told CNA he is the victim of “false and malicious accusations” and asked why he was never arrested if, as the Vatican said at the time of his ousting, they had ample evidence he was guilty of espionage.

In 2022, the ex-Vatican auditor and his deputy sought 9.3 million euros (about $10 million) in compensation from the Vatican’s Secretariat of State and office of auditor general, now led by the other of Milone’s two former deputies, for loss of reputation and the inability to find new work due to the slanderous nature of their removal.

The lawsuit also included a demand of 3.5 million euros (about $3.8 million) for the loss of Panicco’s personal medical records, which Milone maintains led to the auditor’s premature death from cancer in June 2023 after having to repeat exams, thus delaying treatment. 

The Vatican’s court of first instance ordered Milone to pay almost 50,000 euros (about $54,000) and Panicco’s estate 64,000 euros (about $69,000) and said in its Jan. 24 rejection of the lawsuit that the Secretariat of State cannot be held liable for Milone’s dismissal because it was Pope Francis who was responsible for his employment, and the court cannot judge papal decisions, while Becciu acted in a personal capacity.

Milone and his lawyers, however, called this argument a “smoke screen” during a meeting with journalists in June and said they have documents they claim prove the Secretariat of State’s integral role in his hiring and, ultimately, in his forced resignation, which Becciu, then sostituto of the Secretariat of State, has taken credit for.

They added that they hope in their appeal to enter into the facts of the case and expressed disappointment at the lawsuit having been originally blocked for a prejudicial reason.

Becciu himself is currently in appeal proceedings after he was sentenced to more than five years in prison and ordered to pay a fine of over $8,000 after he was convicted on counts of embezzlement and abuse of office in December 2023.

Milone’s preliminary appeal hearing July 3 will be before a court of three judges: Spanish Archbishop Alejandro Arellano Cedillo, president of the Court of Appeal; Father Pietro Milite; and Italian civil judge Riccardo Turrini Vita.

CNA has seen a copy of the document explicitly hiring Milone as auditor general of the Vatican, which is signed by Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin.

According to the ex-auditor general, it is ludicrous that the Vatican court argued Becciu acted as a private individual, not as an official of the Secretariat of State, when on the morning of June 19, 2017, when he was told by Becciu he had lost the faith of the pope, he was meeting the second-in-command of the Secretariat of State in the Apostolic Palace on a matter of business, namely, to discuss work contracts for employees in his office.

After the preliminary hearing on July 3, it is unknown how many hearings the appeal court will hold and how long the judges will take to give a verdict. 

Under Vatican law, both the prosecution and the defense can appeal verdicts, and second appeals are also possible.

Milone and his lawyers, Romano Vaccarella and Gianni Merla, said they will appeal their case to the Vatican’s supreme court and even bring it before the International Court of Justice in the Hague if necessary.

“I’m never giving up for myself and for Ferruccio,” Milone told CNA and other journalists in June.

Pope Francis to canonize ‘Martyrs of Damascus,’ three others on Oct. 20

Pope Francis announced he will celebrate a Mass of canonization for 14 people, including the 11 “Martyrs of Damascus,” on Sunday, Oct. 20, 2024, the Vatican announced after the College of Cardinals voted to approve the canonizations of 15 people in a consistory on the morning of July 1, 2024. / Credit: Vatican Media

Rome Newsroom, Jul 1, 2024 / 08:50 am (CNA).

Pope Francis will celebrate a Mass of canonization for 14 people, including the 11 “Martyrs of Damascus,” on Sunday, Oct. 20, the Vatican announced Monday.

The pope declared the date of the canonization, which will take place during the 2024 assembly of the Synod on Synodality, after the College of Cardinals voted to approve the canonizations of 15 people in a consistory on the morning of July 1.

The date of the much-anticipated canonization of Blessed Carlo Acutis will be set at a later time, according to the July 1 press release.

The “Martyrs of Damascus” were murdered “out of hatred for the faith” in Damascus, Syria, some time during the night of July 9–10, 1860. The event took place during the persecution of Christians by Shia Druze, which spread from Lebanon to Syria and resulted in thousands of victims.

A Druze commando entered a Franciscan convent in the Christian quarter of Bab-Touma (St. Paul) in the Old City of Damascus and massacred the friars Manuel Ruiz López, Carmelo Bolta, Nicanor Ascanio, Nicolás M. Alberca y Torres, Pedro Soler, Engelbert Kolland, Francisco Pinazo Peñalver, Juan S. Fernández, and three laymen who were biological brothers — Francis, Abdel Mohti, and Raphaël Massabki.

Upon refusing to renounce their Christian faith and convert to Islam, the 11 were brutally killed, some beheaded with sabers and axes, others stabbed or clubbed to death. The martyrs were beatified in 1926.

Elena Guerra, Marie-Léonie Paradis, and Giuseppe Allamano are among the Blesseds whom Pope Francis paved the way for canonization in a decree on May 23, 2024. They will be canonized on Oct. 20, 2024. Credit: Oblates of the Holy Spirit; centremarie-leonieparadis.com; and Unknown photographer, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Elena Guerra, Marie-Léonie Paradis, and Giuseppe Allamano are among the Blesseds whom Pope Francis paved the way for canonization in a decree on May 23, 2024. They will be canonized on Oct. 20, 2024. Credit: Oblates of the Holy Spirit; centremarie-leonieparadis.com; and Unknown photographer, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

One of two women to be canonized on Oct. 20 is Blessed Elena Guerra, known as “an apostle of the Holy Spirit.”

A friend of Pope Leo XIII and the teacher of St. Gemma Galgani, Elena Guerra (1835–1914) is known for her spiritual writings and her passionate devotion to the Holy Spirit.

Canadian sister Blessed Marie-Léonie Paradis, founder of the Little Sisters of the Holy Family, will also be declared a saint on Oct. 20. Born Virginie Alodie on May 12, 1840, in L’Acadie, Quebec, the blessed founded her institute, whose purpose was to collaborate with and support the religious of Holy Cross in educational work, in 1880 in New Brunswick.

Today her sisters work in over 200 institutions of education and evangelization in Canada, the United States, Italy, Brazil, Haiti, Chile, Honduras, and Guatemala.

Italian Blessed Giuseppe Allamano, who will also be canonized Oct. 20, founded two religious congregations: the Consolata Missionaries (for men) and the Consolata Missionary Sisters (for women).

Born in 1851, Allamano was deeply influenced by the spirituality of the Salesians and St. John Bosco as well as his uncle, St. Joseph Cafasso, a noted priest and spiritual director who was known as one of Turin’s “social saints.” 

Pope Francis asks Sacred Heart of Jesus to convert hearts who want war

On the last day of June, a month that the Catholic Church dedicates to the Sacred Heart, the pope asked people to continue praying for Ukraine, Palestine, Israel, Myanmar, and other parts of the world where there is much suffering caused by war. / Credit: Vatican Media

Rome Newsroom, Jun 30, 2024 / 09:59 am (CNA).

Pope Francis prayed for the intercession of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on Sunday to convert “the hearts of those who want war” to projects of dialogue and peace.

On the last day of June, a month that the Catholic Church dedicates to the Sacred Heart, the pope asked people to continue praying for Ukraine, Palestine, Israel, Myanmar, and other parts of the world where there is much suffering caused by war.

Pope Francis also asked people to remember the suffering of persecuted Christians during his Angelus address on June 29. 

“Today we remember the protomartyrs of Rome. We too live in a time of martyrdom even more than in the first centuries,” he said.

“In many parts of the world, many of our brothers and sisters suffer from discrimination and persecution because of their faith, thus fertilizing the Church. Others face a ‘martyrdom with white gloves.’ Let us support them and be inspired by their witness to the love of Christ.”

Reflecting on Sunday’s Gospel in which Jesus healed a bleeding woman and raised a girl from the dead, the pope urged everyone to remember that the Lord draws close to our suffering and wounds.

“In the face of bodily and spiritual sufferings, of the wounds our souls bear, of the situations that crush us, and even in the face of sin, God does not keep us at a distance,” Pope Francis said.

“On the contrary, he draws near to let himself be touched and to touch us, and he always raises us from death. He always takes us by the hand to say: daughter, son, arise!”

Pope Francis asked people to reflect on whether they keep a distance from people who are suffering or draw close to them to offer them a helping hand to lift them up in imitation of Jesus. 

He urged people to look to the heart of God so that the Church and society do not exclude anyone but offer everyone the opportunity to “be welcomed and loved without labels [and] without prejudice.”

“Let us fix in our hearts this image Jesus gives us: God is one who takes you by the hand and lifts you up, one who lets himself be touched by your pain and touches you to heal you and restore your life. He does not discriminate against anyone because he loves everyone,” Francis said.

“Let us pray to the Holy Virgin. May she who is the mother of tenderness, intercede for us and for the whole world.”

‘Open the doors’ of the Church, Pope Francis implores on solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul

Pope Francis presides over Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica on the solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, June 29, 2024. / Credit: Vatican Media

Vatican City, Jun 29, 2024 / 09:45 am (CNA).

On the solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Pope Francis invited the Catholic faithful — including the recently appointed metropolitan archbishops who received their blessed pallium today — to “open the doors” of the Church and follow the example of the two great apostles of Rome so that all people can know and experience the love of God.

“The Jubilee will be a time of grace, during which we will open the holy door so that everyone may cross the threshold of that ‘living sanctuary’ who is Jesus,” the Holy Father preached during his homily at the papal Mass celebrated in Vatican City on June 29.

Pope Francis presides over Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica on the solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, June 29, 2024. Credit: Vatican Media
Pope Francis presides over Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica on the solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, June 29, 2024. Credit: Vatican Media

Reflecting on the Mass readings of the day, addressing thousands gathered within St. Peter’s Basilica amid scaffolded renovation projects in preparation for the upcoming 2025 Jubilee Year of Hope, Pope Francis emphasized the significance of “deliverance” and the grace of God in the lives of these two great evangelizers.

When St. Peter was freed from prison he “realizes that it is the Lord who opens the doors. He always goes before us. The doors of the prison opened by themselves by the power of God,” the pope said.

Following his dramatic conversion after encountering the risen Christ in Damascus, Pope Francis said St. Paul discovered the “grace of weakness” and ended his forceful persecution of the Church. The experience of Paul’s own weaknesses led him to lean on God’s strength when he preached the Gospel.

Pope Francis delivers his homily during Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica on the solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, June 29, 2024. Credit: Vatican Media
Pope Francis delivers his homily during Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica on the solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, June 29, 2024. Credit: Vatican Media

“Paul employs the image of ‘open doors’ in his journey to Antioch with Barnabas,” he said. “They gathered the Church together and declared all that God had done with them and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles.”

During his homily, the Holy Father reminded the cardinals, archbishops, priests, religious men and women, and lay faithful present at Mass to “learn the wisdom of opening doors” and to not succumb to “a consoling, inward-looking religiosity.”

“Today some movements in the Church present us with a disillusioned spirituality,” he said. “On the contrary, the encounter with the Lord ignites in the life of all a burning zeal for evangelization.”

Pope Francis presides over Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica on the solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, June 29, 2024. Credit: Vatican Media
Pope Francis presides over Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica on the solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, June 29, 2024. Credit: Vatican Media

Following the celebration of the Mass, Pope Francis individually presented 33 of the 42 recently appointed metropolitan archbishops their pallium, a vestment made of lamb’s wool that symbolizes their authority and unity with the pope’s pastoral mission to evangelize and care for the people of God.

The metropolitan archbishops who were able to attend the papal Mass in Vatican City were seated next to the bronze station of St. Peter, also adorned in liturgical vestments this day, as a reminder of their own ministerial authority and responsibility of service to the Church.

Pope Francis presides over Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica on the solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, June 29, 2024. Credit: Vatican Media
Pope Francis presides over Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica on the solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, June 29, 2024. Credit: Vatican Media

A special Angelus

In spite of the 93-degree-Fahrenheit heat, thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square to be present for the pope’s special Angelus address for the solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul.

“We see St. Peter depicted holding two large keys, as in the statue here in this square,” he said. “Those keys represent the ministry of authority that Jesus entrusted to him in the service of all the Church. Because authority is a service, and authority that is not service is dictatorship.”

Pope Francis waves to pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican for his special Angelus message on the solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, June 29, 2024. Credit: Vatican Media
Pope Francis waves to pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican for his special Angelus message on the solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, June 29, 2024. Credit: Vatican Media

He also encouraged his listeners to help everyone “find the way” to enter the house of God by cultivating virtues that would serve others, such as patience, constancy, and humility.

“The mission that Jesus entrusts to Peter is not that of barring the doors to the house, permitting entry only to a few select guests, but of helping everyone find the way to enter, in faithfulness to the Gospel of Jesus. For everyone: Everyone, everyone, everyone can enter!”

Pilgrims gather in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican to hear Pope Francisr’ special Angelus message on the solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, June 29, 2024. Credit: Vatican Media
Pilgrims gather in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican to hear Pope Francisr’ special Angelus message on the solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, June 29, 2024. Credit: Vatican Media

Following his address, Pope Francis gave his special greetings to all the people of Rome, for whom today is a prominent holiday, but particularly expressed his closeness to those who are sick, elderly, alone, or in prison. He also asked for prayers for those who are wounded and suffering because of war. 

“I greet each one and invite everyone to have the experience of Peter and Paul — that the love of Christ that saves lives will push them to share this life with joy and gratuity,” he said.

Vatican fireworks: A 500-year-old tradition for the solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul

A 1775 painting of the fireworks over Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome, painted by Jakob Philipp Hackert. / Credit: Public Domain

Rome Newsroom, Jun 29, 2024 / 05:00 am (CNA).

For the past 500 years, the Vatican has celebrated the solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul with a bang with a spectacular fireworks show influenced by Michelangelo and Gian Lorenzo Bernini.

While many associate fireworks with the Fourth of July, the Vatican had already been celebrating this week with fireworks for nearly 300 years at the time when Americans were signing the Declaration of Independence in 1776.

Each year on June 29, fireworks are launched from atop Castel Sant’Angelo, the papal fortress originally commissioned by Roman Emperor Hadrian, in celebration of the co-patron saints of Rome, St. Peter and St. Paul. 

The fireworks show, called “The Girandola,” has captured the imagination of many artists over the centuries whose sketches and paintings illustrate the event with more pizzazz than the myriad of iPhone photos of fireworks today.

Sixteenth-century image of the Castel Sant’Angelo Fireworks by Hendrick van Cleve III can be seen in the British Museum. Credit: British Museum, Public domain via Wikimedia Commons
Sixteenth-century image of the Castel Sant’Angelo Fireworks by Hendrick van Cleve III can be seen in the British Museum. Credit: British Museum, Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

The Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET) in New York has multiple images of the Vatican fireworks in its collection, including a 1579 etching by Giovanni Ambrogio Brambilla of Castel Sant’Angelo bursting with flames at every level as a crowd looks on from the relative safety of the other side of the Tiber River.

According to Rome-based art historian Elizabeth Lev, the Girandola fireworks display dates back to the pope who built the Sistine Chapel and opened the Capitoline Museums, Pope Sixtus IV, Francesco della Rovere.

“In 1481 he decided to give the Romans a theatrical display of lights and sound that would rival the other great cities of Italy — Venice and Florence,” Lev told CNA.

Pope Julius II continued the tradition in the early 16th century. His papal master of ceremonies, Paride di Gassis, described the fireworks display, saying it looked as “if the sky itself was tumbling down.”

A 1775 painting of the fireworks display by Joseph Wright of Derby. Credit: Walker Art Gallery, Public domain via Wikimedia Commons
A 1775 painting of the fireworks display by Joseph Wright of Derby. Credit: Walker Art Gallery, Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

While there are competing theories as to the extent and dates of Michelangelo’s participation in the fireworks display, Lev points to the publication of one of the first printed books on metallurgy in Europe, “De La Pirotechnia,” written by Vannoccio Biringuccio in 1536, which gave us the terms “Roman candle” and “Catherine Wheel” still used for fireworks today.

“At that time, Pope Paul III was living in the Castel Sant’Angelo, Michelangelo was working on the Last Judgment and myriad other assignments. The last chapter of ‘De La Pirotechnia’ discusses fireworks, and it would make sense to pair the famous technician with Michelangelo, who had … embraced his talents as a painter as the consultant for color and effects,” she said.

“The culmination with the 4,000 to 6,000 rockets creating a fountain of fire sounds like the kind of effect Michelangelo would have enjoyed, although we have no words from him on the subject nor drawings of projected displays.”

According to the MET, the Vatican held the fireworks show each year in celebration of Easter, the solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, and whenever a new pope was elected.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City has in its collection this 17th-century sketch of the fireworks display by Giovanni Francesco Grimaldi. Credit: Giovanni Francesco Grimaldi, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons
The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City has in its collection this 17th-century sketch of the fireworks display by Giovanni Francesco Grimaldi. Credit: Giovanni Francesco Grimaldi, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

The great Baroque sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini, who gave us the fountains in Piazza Navona, the baldacchino in St. Peter’s Basilica, and the sculpture of St. Teresa in Ecstasy, also designed fireworks in his spare time.

“A producer of plays amid his many other activities, Bernini loved the movement that fire, water, light, and air could bring to art,” Lev said.

Bernini designed fireworks in 1641 inspired by the eruption of the Stromboli volcano off the north coast of Sicily, indicating the number of rockets and colors that would achieve the best effect, she explained.

Sketch of the Girandola fireworks over Castel Sant’Angelo by Adrien Manglard c. 1750-1752. Credit: Adrien Manglard, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Sketch of the Girandola fireworks over Castel Sant’Angelo by Adrien Manglard c. 1750-1752. Credit: Adrien Manglard, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

“With his fiery personality and passionate love for dramatic effects, it would be safe to say that the Girandola was made for Bernini and Bernini was made for the Girnadola,” Lev added.

Charles Dickens later witnessed the Vatican fireworks show during his 1844–45 visit to Italy in which he stayed in Rome during Holy Week.

Dickens described the “great display of fireworks from Castle of St. Angelo” in his 1846 book “Pictures from Italy.”

“The show began with a tremendous discharge of cannon; and then, for 20 minutes or half an hour, the whole castle was one incessant sheet of fire, and labyrinth of blazing wheels of every color, size, and speed: while rockets streamed into the sky, not by ones or twos, or scores, but hundreds at a time,” he wrote.

“The concluding burst — the Girandola — was like the blowing up into the air of the whole massive castle, without smoke or dust,” Dickens said.

The seventh edition of the Pinwheel of Castel Sant’Angelo on the occasion of the celebration of Sts. Peter and Paul, the patron of the city of Rome. Credit: Salvatore Micillo/Shutterstock
The seventh edition of the Pinwheel of Castel Sant’Angelo on the occasion of the celebration of Sts. Peter and Paul, the patron of the city of Rome. Credit: Salvatore Micillo/Shutterstock

The Roman tradition continued through the end of the 19th century, when it was decided to suspend it due to extensive damage done to the historic rooms within Castel Sant’Angelo. However, the fireworks show was revived in 2008 and now lights up the Eternal City each year as it celebrates its patron saints.

The firework show will take place this year at 9:30 p.m. on June 29 and will last about 20 minutes to conclude a day of festivities, prayers, and processions in Rome.

PHOTOS: Eucharistic procession winds through Vatican streets in honor of protomartyrs of Rome

In celebration of the upcoming feast of the protomartyrs of Rome, a Eucharistic procession was held on June 27, 2024, through the streets of Vatican City. / Credit: Daniel Ibáñez/EWTN News

ACI Prensa Staff, Jun 28, 2024 / 17:10 pm (CNA).

On the occasion of the feast of the holy protomartyrs of Rome, which the Church celebrates every June 30, the traditional Mass and Eucharistic procession took place in Vatican City.

In celebration of the upcoming feast of the protomartyrs of Rome, a Eucharistic procession was held on June 27, 2024, through the streets of Vatican City. Credit: Daniel Ibáñez/EWTN News
In celebration of the upcoming feast of the protomartyrs of Rome, a Eucharistic procession was held on June 27, 2024, through the streets of Vatican City. Credit: Daniel Ibáñez/EWTN News
The Pontifical Music Band plays during the Eucharistic procession in honor of the protomartyrs of Rome at the Vatican on June 27, 2024. Credit: Daniel Ibáñez/ EWTN News
The Pontifical Music Band plays during the Eucharistic procession in honor of the protomartyrs of Rome at the Vatican on June 27, 2024. Credit: Daniel Ibáñez/ EWTN News
The Eucharist is held in a monstrance by Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi during a Eucharistic procession in honor of the protomartyrs of Rome on June 27, 2024, at the Vatican. Credit: Daniel Ibáñez/ EWTN News
The Eucharist is held in a monstrance by Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi during a Eucharistic procession in honor of the protomartyrs of Rome on June 27, 2024, at the Vatican. Credit: Daniel Ibáñez/ EWTN News

Holy Mass, celebrated on June 27 in the Church of Our Lady of Mercy at the Teutonic Cemetery, was offered by Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Culture.

Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi presides at the Mass in honor of the holy protomartyrs of Rome on June 27, 2024, at the Church of Our Lady of Mercy of the Teutonic Cemetery in Rome. Credit: Daniel Ibáñez/EWTN News
Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi presides at the Mass in honor of the holy protomartyrs of Rome on June 27, 2024, at the Church of Our Lady of Mercy of the Teutonic Cemetery in Rome. Credit: Daniel Ibáñez/EWTN News

At the end, a solemn Eucharistic procession took place, with the accompaniment of the Pontifical Musical Band along the avenues of Vatican City.

Members of the Pontifical Academy Cultorum Martyrum, numerous faithful, representatives of the Swiss Guard, and the gendarmerie as well as members of the Association of Sts. Peter and Paul participated in this traditional procession.

Lay faithful precede the Eucharist during a procession in honor of the protomartyrs of Rome on June 27, 2024. Credit: Daniel Ibáñez/EWTN News
Lay faithful precede the Eucharist during a procession in honor of the protomartyrs of Rome on June 27, 2024. Credit: Daniel Ibáñez/EWTN News
Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi holds the monstrance during a Eucharistic procession in honor of the protomartyrs of Rome on June 27, 2024. Credit: Daniel Ibáñez/EWTN News
Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi holds the monstrance during a Eucharistic procession in honor of the protomartyrs of Rome on June 27, 2024. Credit: Daniel Ibáñez/EWTN News
The Eucharistic procession in honor of the protomartyrs of Rome goes around St. Peter’s Basilica on June 27, 2024 at the Vatican. Credit: Daniel Ibáñez/EWTN News
The Eucharistic procession in honor of the protomartyrs of Rome goes around St. Peter’s Basilica on June 27, 2024 at the Vatican. Credit: Daniel Ibáñez/EWTN News
Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi incenses the Eucharist during a procession in honor of the protomartyrs of Rome on June 27, 2024. Credit: Daniel Ibáñez/EWTN News
Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi incenses the Eucharist during a procession in honor of the protomartyrs of Rome on June 27, 2024. Credit: Daniel Ibáñez/EWTN News
Members of the faithful follow the Eucharistic procession honoring the protomartyrs of Rome on June 27, 2024. Credit: Daniel Ibáñez/EWTN News
Members of the faithful follow the Eucharistic procession honoring the protomartyrs of Rome on June 27, 2024. Credit: Daniel Ibáñez/EWTN News
Swiss Guard accompany the Eucharist under the baldacchino during a Eucharistic procession in honor of the protomartyrs of Rome on June 27, 2024. Credit: Daniel Ibáñez/EWTN News
Swiss Guard accompany the Eucharist under the baldacchino during a Eucharistic procession in honor of the protomartyrs of Rome on June 27, 2024. Credit: Daniel Ibáñez/EWTN News

Who were the holy protomartyrs of Rome?

On June 30, the Church commemorates the holy protomartyrs of Rome, who died during the first persecution against the Catholic Church, which was unleashed in the second half of the first century.

They suffered terrible torments and gave their lives just to call themselves “Christians,” followers of Jesus of Nazareth.

Consequently, they were granted the title of “protomartyrs” — a term from ancient Greek — which means “first martyrs” or “first witnesses.”

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

Pope Francis to bless ‘pallia’ at Mass on Sts. Peter and Paul’s feast day

Archbishops wear the pallium they received from Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Basilica, June 29, 2014. / Credit: Daniel Ibáñez/CNA

Rome Newsroom, Jun 28, 2024 / 16:40 pm (CNA).

Pope Francis will bless vestments known as “pallia” during Mass on the solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican on Saturday, June 29.

Each blessed pallium — bands made of white wool adorned with six black silk crosses — will be placed on the shoulders of the 42 new metropolitan archbishops who were appointed during the last year, including two Americans. 

Only metropolitan archbishops and the Latin-rite patriarch of Jerusalem are imposed with the white pallium with black crosses as a symbol of communion, authority, and unity with the pope and his pastoral mission to be a shepherd for the people of God.

The tradition of the papal blessing of the pallia for select bishops began in the sixth century, but it was not until the ninth century that all metropolitan bishops were mandated to wear the woolen vestment.

Since 2015, the imposition of the pallia on metropolitan archbishops takes place in their home countries, rather than at the Vatican, as a sign of “synodality” with local churches.

Two Americans — Archbishop Thomas Robert Zinkula of Dubuque, Iowa, and Archbishop Christopher J. Coyne of Hartford, Connecticut — will receive the pallium this year.

Following the announcement of Zinkula’s appointment, Jim Thill, a deacon at Holy Spirit Parish in Dubuque, told the Telegraph Herald: “He is my idea of a shepherd for the Church. He is highly educated and has had a lot of accolades, but he has never lost the common touch. He is just one of the people.”

In May as he officially assumed the office of archbishop of Hartford, Coyne asked for the prayers and made a pledge to “strive everyday to be a faithful image of the Good Shepherd, who welcomes the lost and protects those who struggle.”

The following metropolitan archbishops were appointed during the past year and will receive the pallium:

1. Cardinal Archbishop Protase Rugambwa of Tabora, Tanzania

2. Archbishop Jozef Jonáš Maxim of Prešov of the Byzantines, Slovakia

3. Archbishop Rui Manuel Sousa Valério, SMM, patriarch of Lisbon, Portugal

4. Archbishop João Santos Cardoso of Natal, Brazil

5. Archbishop Guy Desrochers, CSR, of Moncton, Canada

6. Archbishop Gustavo Bombín Espino, OSST, of Toliara, Madagascar 

7. Archbishop Ciro Miniero of Taranto, Italy

8. Archbishop Thomas Robert Zinkula of Dubuque, Iowa 

9. Archbishop Zdenko Križić, OCD, of Split-Makarska, Croatia

10. Archbishop Linus Neli of Imphal, India

11. Archbishop Héctor Rafael Rodríguez Rodríguez, MSC, of Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic

12. Archbishop Gregório Ben Lâmed Paixão, OSB, of Fortaleza, Brazil

13. Archbishop Prosper Kontiebo, MI, of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso 

14. Archbishop Fernando Natalio Chomalí Garib of Santiago de Chile, Chile 

15. Archbishop Víctor Hugo Basabe of Coro, Venezuela

16. Archbishop Florencio Roselló Avellanas, OdeM, of Pamplona and Tudela, Spain

17. Archbishop Giorgio Ferretti of Foggia-Bovino, Italy 

18. Archbishop Biagio Colaianni of Campobasso-Boiano, Italy

19. Archbishop Herwig Gössl of Bamberg, Germany 

20. Archbishop Udo Markus Bent of Paderborn, Germany

21. Archbishop Vincent Aind of Ranchi, India 

22. Archbishop Abel Liluala of Pointe-Noire, Democratic Republic of Congo

23. Archbishop Gélase Armel Kema of Owando, Democratic Republic of Congo

24. Archbishop Davide Carbonaro, OMD, of Potenza-Muro Lucano-Marsico Nuovo, Italy 

25. Archbishop Josef Nuzík of Olomouc, Czech Republic 

26. Archbishop Luis Alberto Huamán Camayo, OMI, of Huancayo, Peru

27. Archbishop Rex Andrew C. Alarcon of Caceres, Philippines 

28. Archbishop Riccardo Lamba of Udine, Italy

29. Archbishop Gabriel Blamo Jubwe of Monrovia, Liberia 

30. Metropolitan Archbishop Hironimus Pakaenoni of Kupang, Indonesia

31. Archbishop Josafá Menezes da Silva of Aracaju, Brazil

32. Archbishop Félicien Ntambue Kasembe, CICM, of Kananga, Democratic Republic of Congo

33. Archbishop Raphael p’Mony Wokorach, MCCJ, of Gulu, Uganda

34. Archbishop Carlos Alberto Breis Pereira, OFM, of Maceió, Brazil

35. Archbishop Gherardo Gambelli of Florence, Italy

36. Archbishop Christopher J. Coyne of Hartford, Connecticut

37. Archbishop José Mário Scalon Angonese of Cascavel, Brazil

38. Archbishop Sergio Hernán Pérez de Arce Arraigada, SC, of Concepción, Chile 

39. Archbishop Ignace Bessi Dogbo of Abidjan, Ivory Coast

40. Archbishop Paulus Budi Kleden, SVD, of Ende, Indonesia

41. Archbishop Elect Mosese Vitolio Tui, SDB, of Samoa-Apia, Samoa

42. Archbishop Benjamin Phiri of Ndola, Zambia

Stop using art by Father Rupnik, Cardinal O’Malley tells Vatican officials

Mosaics by alleged abuser Father Marko Rupnik are displayed at the shrine in Lourdes, France. / Credit: Courtney Mares/CNA

CNA Staff, Jun 28, 2024 / 15:05 pm (CNA).

The pope’s top adviser on sexual abuse by clergy is asking Vatican officials not to use art by a former Jesuit priest accused of sexually abusing women — even as some Church officials continue to do so. 

Cardinal Seán O’Malley, the archbishop of Boston and head of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, sent a letter to the dicasteries that govern day-to-day affairs of the Roman Curia expressing hope that “pastoral prudence would prevent displaying artwork in a way that could imply either exoneration or a subtle defense” of those of accused of abuse. 

“We must avoid sending a message that the Holy See is oblivious to the psychological distress that so many are suffering,” O’Malley wrote in a letter to leaders of the Curia on Wednesday, June 26, according to the commission he heads

The letter — which was made public Friday, June 28, one day before O’Malley turns 80 and therefore must give up his Vatican posts — refers to Father Marko Rupnik, 69, a Slovenian priest and former Jesuit whose mosaic art decorates Catholic churches around the world. 

Rupnik has been accused by about two dozen women, mostly former nuns, of sexually abusing them during the past three decades. He has not publicly responded to the accusations. 

Vatican News, an official news outlet of the Holy See, published an image of a mosaic of St. Irenaeus made by Rupnik with a note that the original is in the office of the papal nuncio in Paris. 

Vatican News also published images of Rupnik’s art on May 26, June 1, and June 7, as the National Catholic Register, CNA’s sister news partner, has reported.

Paolo Ruffini, prefect of the Dicastery for Communication, defended using Rupnik’s art during an appearance in Atlanta on June 21, arguing that removing it wouldn’t help his accusers.

“I think that, as Christians, we have to understand that the closeness to the victims is important, but I don’t know that this is the way of healing: again and again talking about this problem of art that is healing others maybe, I don’t know, but maybe, yes. Maybe yes,” Ruffini said, as the Register reported.

“There are people that are praying in sanctuaries of many churches all around the world” in front of Rupnik’s mosaics, he said.

In June 2023, the Jesuits expelled Rupnik from the society, saying that they found the credibility of allegations against him to be “very high” and that the priest had refused “to come to terms with his past” and “to enter a path of truth.” 

A lawyer who represents five of the priest’s accusers said this week she sent a letter to bishops of dioceses where the priest’s mosaics are displayed asking them to remove them “out of respect for the victims and for the very nature of the place of prayer.” 

“Father Rupnik … is accused by numerous women of having inflicted spiritual, psychological, physical, and sexual abuse on them, and his mosaics, which are found in the places where every believer gathers in prayer to have contact with the Father, cause disturbance in the hearts of the faithful,” states the letter by Italian lawyer Laura Sgrò.

Rupnik incurred an automatic excommunication in 2019 for giving absolution to a woman he had sex with — an offense seen by the Vatican as an abuse of the sacrament of confession. But the excommunication was lifted after only a month, and afterward, in 2020, Rupnik preached a Lenten meditation for fellow clerics in Rome, including Pope Francis. 

Pope Francis is a Jesuit, as Rupnik was until last year, and the two have reportedly been on friendly terms in the past. 

The outcry over Rupnik led Pope Francis to declare in January 2023 that he “had nothing to do with” how Rupnik’s case had been handled. 

Rupnik is currently a priest of the Diocese of Koper in his native Slovenia. 

Many of the accusations against the priest were initially dismissed because they are beyond the Vatican’s ordinary statute of limitations for abuse of adults. But in October 2023, Pope Francis lifted the statute of limitations in this case, allowing the Vatican’s investigation of Rupnik to proceed.