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Friday, August 5, 2016

#Flashback Friday: The Catholic Church Then and Now

This week’s topic: The Daily Life of the Pope


A day in the life of Pope Leo XIII (and popes before him): 

Pope Leo XIII
[Quote] As a rule, the higher the dignity to which a man is raised the more weighty and difficult are the duties which his position involves. I know that this is not generally believed or understood, but it is none the less true. Life is often a weary burden to those of high estate, and there is less liberty in the palaces of princes than in the humble dwellings of the poor.

The greatest dignitary in the world is undoubtedly the Pope, the supreme head of religion upon earth, the High Priest of God, the bishop and pastor of all the faithful, the spiritual father of monarchs as well as their subjects. There is also no man in the world who leads a more trying, arduous, difficult, and laborious life. From the morning till the evening, from the first day of the year till the last, he is, to the very letter, the Servant of the servants of God, as the Sovereign Pontiffs so justly entitle themselves in the Papal bulls and decrees.

Let us consider in what manner the Pope passes the day.

Our Holy Father lives at Rome, in an immense palace called the Vatican, adjoining the Church of St. Peter’s. The vast halls of the Vatican are adorned with grandeur and simplicity; the walls are uniformly covered with red hangings, and with the exception of the pontifical throne the only seats are wooden stools. After a long suite of rooms occupied by the servants and guards, according to their rank, then by the prelates composing the Papal household, we reach the special apartments of His Holiness.

These rooms are small and still more simple than the others. And first comes the study of the Holy Father. It is here that he gives, during the day, his numerous audiences, of which we shall speak presently. The Pope is seated in an armchair of crimson velvet; before him is a large square table covered with red silk, similar to the hangings on the walls, and above the chair there is a canopy of the same color, the insignia of royal and pontifical majesty. Seats for the cardinals and princes, and two or three wooden seats, constitute the furniture of this apartment. This first room communicates with a second of the same size, and exactly similar, excepting that at the end there is a bed hung with crimson silk. This is the Pope’s bed-chamber. Then comes a third room furnished in the same manner; this is the dining room. The Holy Father has every meal alone, on a table covered with red silk like that of the study. Lastly comes the library, which is a large and beautiful room with four or five windows, and where the Pope is accustomed to hold councils with his ministers.

The Pope is always dressed in white. He wears on his head a small cap of white silk; his cassock is of white cloth during the winter, and of thin white woolen or white silk during the summer. His wide band is also of white silk, with gold tassels. 
His shoes, or slippers, are red, with a gold cross embroidered on the instep. It is this cross which is kissed by everyone who approaches the sacred person of the Vicar of Jesus Christ.

When he leaves his apartments the Pope wears over his cassock a rochet of lace, a scarlet mantle trimmed with white fur, and, lastly, a stole embroidered in gold. He covers his head with a large red silk hat a little raised on each side, and timed, with a gold tassel. The former custom of the Pontifical Court did not permit him to go out in the streets of Rome excepting in a carriage; beyond the gates of the city, he often took long walks on foot, stopping willingly to speak to the poor and to children, and giving his holy benediction to those whom he met.* All who meet the Pope uncover their heads and kneel down as a mark of the reverence due to his character of Supreme Pontiff.

The Holy Father rises early. After his prayers he goes into his chapel to celebrate the Holy Mass. This chapel is small, and adjoining the Pope’s apartment. The Blessed Sacrament is always preserved there, and the Holy Father, in his devotion to the Divine Eucharist, attends himself to the two lamps which burn perpetually before the tabernacle. His Holiness says Mass, slowly and with deep devotion; his august face is often bathed with tears while he holds in his sacred hands the hidden God of whom he is the Vicar.

Usually he says Mass at half-past seven, and assists, as an act of thanksgiving, at a second Mass celebrated by one of his chaplains. 

Afterward he recites a part of the breviary on his knees with one of the prelates of his household, and then returns to his apartments. The Pope’s breakfast consists of a cup of black coffee. The sobriety of the Italians is well known, and this is the first repast of almost all Romans. Until about ten o’clock the Holy Father works every day with his first minister, who is a Cardinal, and is called the Secretary of State.

At ten o’clock commence the audiences, a laborious task, which would be trying and wearisome if the most important questions and gravest interests of religion and society were not there discussed. Cardinals, bishops, princes, ambassadors, missionaries, priests, and great numbers of the faithful come from all parts of the world to lay down at the feet of the Head of the Church their homage, their requests, and their necessities. The Pope remains seated during these audiences. All kneel in his presence, or stand with his permission. Cardinals and princes have the privilege of sitting down. 

On entering the Pope’s study three genuflections are made; the first at the threshold, the second half way, and the third at the Pope’s feet. Then his foot or his hand is kissed, and the audience commences. As soon as it is ended, the Holy Father rings a bell, and someone else is announced and immediately introduced by one of the resident prelates. Only men are admitted in this manner into the apartments of the Pope; this is an invariable rule. Ladies are received for an audience once or twice a week, in a large hall forming part of the public museums of the Vatican.

The audiences of the morning usually last more than four hours. When they are ended, at about half-past two, the Pope passes into his dining-room and takes a frugal repast. Then he recites, on his knees, the continuation of his breviary, and, after a few minute’s repose, goes out to take a little exercise. When it is bad weather the Holy Father contents himself with walking for a little time up and down the library or in one of the covered galleries of the Vatican. 

At the decline of the day, indicated in Italy by the sound of the Angelus, and for this reason called the Ave Maria, the Pope returns to the Vatican, recites with his suite the Angelical Salutation, adding the De Profundis for all the faithful who have died during the course of the day. Then the audiences recommence. Different papers are also submitted to the Pope for his signature; the decrees of different Roman congregations which preside over the religious affairs of the whole Catholic world are submitted for his sovereign approbation and final decision. These audiences last until ten or eleven in the evening, after which the Holy Father takes a light collation, composed of fruits or vegetables; he then terminates the recitation of his breviary and goes to take some hours of that repose which he has so devoutly and laboriously earned.

Such, with rare exceptions, is the daily life of the Pope, and such a life, notwithstanding the honors with which it is surrounded, and even because of these honors, is a continual subjection, an hourly self-renunciation; also when the Sovereign Pontiff enters into the designs of God, as is so perfectly done by our Holy Father the present Pope [Pope Leo XIII], his life is complete in the sight of God, and the merits more than any other life the great and blessed recompense promised to the faithful servant. [End quote]

      *Owing to the Italian spoliation of the temporal power, the Pope never leaves the Vatican grounds.

[Source:  The Fountain of Catholic Knowledge, copyrighted by the Office of Catholic Publications, 1900;  pages 413-416]



A day in the life of Pope Francis: 

[Quote] DAILY ROUTINE: Francis rises on his own at around 4:30 a.m. and spends the next two hours praying, meditating on the Scripture readings for the day and preparing his morning homily. He delivers it off-the-cuff at the 7 a.m. Mass in the chapel of the Vatican's Santa Marta hotel where he lives. After Mass, Francis greets the faithful in the atrium outside the chapel, then walks a few meters into the hotel dining room for breakfast. He often will have fresh-squeezed orange juice (a papal indulgence since other diners are served only packaged OJ) and membrillo, a gelatinous paste made from quince that is popular in Argentina.  

After breakfast, Francis takes Elevator A up to the second floor to his home: Santa Marta's Room 201, though he has actually converted the entire second floor of the hotel wing into a home office. He then gets to work, either staying in the hotel or heading to the Apostolic Palace if he has formal audiences. Occasionally he takes a break to recite the rosary. After a 1 p.m. lunch in the dining room, Francis takes a siesta of about 40 minutes to an hour and resumes working into the evening, often taking care of correspondence. He tries to get in an hour of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament before dinner, though he confesses to sometimes falling asleep while praying. 

Dinner in the dining room is self-service, cafeteria-style at 8 p.m. and Francis has been known to microwave his own food if it's not warm enough. Before taking the elevator back upstairs, he will be sure to thank the Swiss Guard, Vatican gendarme and reception desk clerk on duty in the hotel lobby, and say good-night. He's in bed by 9 p.m., reads for an hour and is asleep — "like a log" — for the next six hours or so. [End quote]

In Christ,

Julie @ Connecticut Catholic Corner


red shoes:


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  3. Francis spends half his day eating and the other half spewing heresy from the lectern (because God forbid he use a pulpit) in the Santa Marta chapel. I recognize the office, but the honour is difficult to give. He is a scandalous pope. He, along with the Post-Conciliar Church as a whole, has rocked my faith in the papacy to its very core.


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Thank you and God bless...

Julie @ Connecticut Catholic Corner

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