Friday, September 11, 2009

San Pietro in Vaticano

I got to bed at midnight last night, having lain in bed resting my cobblestone-pained feet and legs, reading all about the Vatican Basilica, and slept very badly; I'd almost decided to sleep in when I received a text message from Australia, which resolved me to get up at about 5.20 am - for I had planned yester-day to go very early to St Peter's to-day.

Having travelled the metro, which was quite full considering the pre-dawn hour, I walked down to St Peter's Square, and was with the very first group to enter the Basilica this morning (letting the friendly South African ladies go first, as is right), right on seven o'clock. How glorious it had been to watch the morning twilight steal over the grand façade of this greatest church of Christendom: even while stepping across the border from Italy into the Vatican City on the edge of the piazza, I was forcibly struck that I was now on territory of Christ's Kingdom come on earth, in germ.

(I have had hard thoughts about the wicked and reprehensible conquest of Papal Rome by the ungodly House of Savoy, accursed and doomed, and its masonic, devilish, anticlerical supporters back in 1870: I do hope Vatican III will take up the important business of getting back the City, if not the whole States of the Church. Recall that in Rome down to the French occupation in 1799, no-one worked past lunchtime, and free gelati even was distributed to the populace, while criminals were pardoned within months of their imprisonment out of clemency and concern for their welfare: so much for Papal tyranny. Viva il Papa-Rè!)

It had been my plan to hear and even serve Mass for the famed Fr "Where's" Withoos, whom I know from my Melbourne days, but in the event I went to the wrong altar - he offered the Sacrifice at St Sebastian's altar, whereas, following the advice of a commenter on a previous post, I had rushed round to St Pius X's altar, where I heard a friend of his say a Low Mass.

Three laymen including myself were in attendance: the priest was French, the server probably also (for he served in the French style, with bells rung at the Little Elevation, and once-twice-thrice at the celebrant's Domine non sum dignus). Again, as is the custom in Rome apparently, it was a dialogue Mass, and one even said the Gloria and Sanctus - I didn't, but bowed to local custom (!) and joined in saying the Agnus Dei responsorially, as the priest seemed to wish us do. Despite us all having said the Confiteor earlier, the pre-1962 third Confiteor was still used. After Mass, the Leonine Prayers were said in Latin.

It seemed best to go pray Matins and Lauds in the Bl Sacrament chapel; walking round, many other priests could be seen at Masses hither and thither, but all Novus Ordo so far as I could see. Weirdly, at one altar a Filipino priest in vestments stood celebrating, with two men in lay clothes standing close either side of him - I shudder to think what nonsense that involved.

(How typical for the poverty and minimalist spirit of the modern liturgy, to see most priests without servers, let alone any in other than lay clothes, when surely the sacristy is brimming over with necessary garments. I attended Benediction at St Peter's yester-day, and there wasn't even a server for the priest, or incense used!)

I stayed in the Basilica till ten in the morning, looking all round, noting down which saint reposed where, and what the monuments of the Popes and others. (Many sainted Popes are buried within the Vatican; under the altars of the Basilica, displayed for the veneration of the faithful, are relics of three Apostles, eleven Popes, two Eastern Doctors, several martyrs, among them St Josaphat, and St Petronilla, Virgin, disciple of St Peter.)

The sacristy and its museum was worth a look, with fantastic reliquaries: several of the True Cross, and others of many saints - including the head of St Luke the Evangelist! In the shop attached I found a handsome standing crucifix, something I've sought for some time, and a steal at €25. Just before leaving St Peter's I read Prime back at the altar of St Pius X.

Next, I had an important meeting at the Congregation for Divine Worship - after a most unsatisfactory sandwich, with which I at last broke my fast - and must now prepare some paperwork for the Ecclesia Dei Commission. I shan't have come 16,500 km without attempting to get satisfaction about the lack of permitted Trad Masses in Tasmania - one would think that in the eyes of a certain Ordinary the Pope's Motu proprio counts for nothing.

I popped into the Carmelite church on the Via della Conciliazione for Terce. Now, after some coffees and pastries I feel sustained, and ought think about my next move...

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