By Scot Landry
Yesterday’s blog post was a special one for me. I was asked by Cardinal Seán’s staff to write a guest blog for the readers of CardinalSeansBlog.org, since all the Cardinals are in a period of public silence until the end of the Conclave. So Cardinal Seán couldn’t write a blog post. It was an honor to write to his regular readers, particularly in a week as special as this one in the life of the Church.
Consequently, I didn’t write about other events that happened with me. So this update will cover my Friday and Saturday experiences in Rome.
George Martell and I began our day Friday early at St. Peter’s Basilica so that we could join up with the pilgrims from St. John Seminary Master of Arts in Ministry (MAM) for a very special Mass at the tomb of Blessed Pope John Paul II.
Knowing that this Mass was on the schedule, I had waited to visit the new resting place for this beloved Pope’s remains. I thought it appropriate that my first visit to his new resting place was at a Mass celebrated by a priest who revered him at least as much as me (and probably more). Fr. Chris O’Connor, the vice-rector of St. John Seminary, and the Tuesday co-host of The Good Catholic Life has 50% polish ancestry and I looked forward to praying at this tomb with him.
Immediately after his death in 2005, Pope John Paul II’s remains were buried in the Grotto (crypt) underneath the main floor of Saint Peter’s. As you can see in the photo below, it was a simple tomb and fulfilled his hopes for how he would be buried.
Given the number of visitors to his tomb, when Pope John Paul II was beatified in 2011, it was decided to move his remains up to a large chapel on the main floor of St. Peter’s, near the Pietá, on the right as you first enter St. Peter’s.
The Mass was moving. Fr. Jonathan Gaspar, priest secretary to Cardinal Seán, and newly ordained priest Fr. Eric Bennett concelebrated and the MAM pilgrims sung hymns beautifully. Many English-speakers also came to the Chapel to join us.
Fr. Chris’ homily on the readings and the life of Blessed Pope John Paul II was a great highlight for me. Please listen to it below (you’ll want to turn the volume way up).
Before the final blessing a very moving moment occurred. Michael Ruane from St. Michael’s Parish in North Andover, who was one of the pilgrims, was anointed by Fr. Chris. A few weeks before the trip, doctors discovered that Michael had thyroid cancer and that it had spread. It is a very serious condition. Michael and his wife have small children.
We ask your prayers for Michael and his family during this time. Perhaps you might want to pray for them through the intercession of Blessed Pope John Paul II.
After Mass was completed, George went with Fr. Chris to find the spot in the floor that mentions the Cathedral of the Holy Cross (in Latin). One of the neat little aspects about St. Peter’s is it has noted the names of many of the world’s famous churches on the floor based on their size compared to St. Peter’s. So you can see how huge Churches like our Cathedral in Boston are just a fraction of the size of St. Peter’s!
After exiting St. Peter’s, we proceeded outside the Square (because Vatican security wasn’t allowing media to film within the Square) for an interview with Fr. Chris for yesterday’s special two-year anniversary show for The Good Catholic Life.
One of the amusing aspects of that interview was that we were in a spot where many persistent gypsies approached us for donations while we were on the air. We think they thought it was more likely that we would give them something to not interrupt us again. Saving the day and our interview was MAM’s Aldona Lingertat who was generous with them on the condition that they let us complete our interview!
We also shot this video about Fr. Chris’ experience celebrating Mass at the tomb of John Paul II.
It was a popular day for recording in St. Peter’s Square on Friday morning. George and I found that both CatholicTV and EWTN were recording segments near us too. EWTN was recording small segments on different aspects around St. Peter’s narrated by my brother Fr. Roger Landry.
In the photo below, you can see Jay Fadden from CatholicTV placing a microphone on Fr. Chris below. We encourage you to read Jay’s blog from Rome in addition to our blog.
After saying goodbye to everyone in the Square, George and I headed down to the Pontifical Council for Social Communications. As you can see, we are very happy in this photo below because after 6 trips to the office we finally had our press credentials for easier access to the big events in Rome.
Later in the day we were honored to host Lisa Hughes, Ken Tucci and Aaron Strader from Boston’s WBZ-TV at our hotel. They read my article in last week’s Pilot in which I wrote how we were hoping to reach Catholics back home and let them experience Rome through our eyes, ears, words, lenses, etc. So they asked if we’d be willing to let them film us doing our radio show.
In addition to the privilege of speaking with them, it was very fun to hang out with them for 90 minutes, along with Fr. Roger and Mary Jo Kriz, who were two of our guests on Friday’s program. It was great to share the second anniversary of The Good Catholic Life with all of them.
I first met Lisa back in March of 2006 for the Consistory in which Archbishop Seán was elevated to Cardinal. Over the past few years, she interviewed Fr. Rich Erikson our former Vicar General a couple of times. I have always enjoyed her coverage, particularly of the Church.
After Lisa interviewed me, she was very gracious to let me return the favor and conduct this brief YouTube interview.
Today was mainly spent doing a lot of preparing for the upcoming Catholic Faith Essentials online video course for Adults that will be on Monday evening. The main topic will be on the various aspects of the Conclave so that Catholics will be prepared to understand the news reports and all the developments this upcoming week. George and I will be recording the show here in Rome and we encourage you to watch it at 7pm Monday evening in Boston at www.BostonCatholicLife.com.
George attended a media briefing at the North American College on the liturgical rites of the Conclave. It was sponsored by the USCCB and it featured Archbishop Piero Marini, President of the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses and former master of ceremonies for pontifical liturgical celebrations for Pope John Paul II, Fr. Thomas Rosica of Salt+Light TV, and Msgr. Kevin Irwin Dean of the School of Theology and Religious Studies at the Catholic University of America.
George recorded the media briefing and you can listen to it here.
The discussion around St. Peter’s square today, at least with the Americans, was dominated by 2 main stories. The first was the installation of the chimney on the roof of Sistine Chapel and a furnace within it to burn the ballots from the Conclave.
While there to take pictures of the chimney, George saw this great interaction between a few young kids and a Swiss Guard. We both thought of our friend, Andreas Widmer, who is a former Swiss guard and who lives in the Boston area and contributes his time to many Church efforts.
George and I also took the opportunity to shoot a YouTube report from the Square.
The second major topic of discussion for Americans in Rome today was the morning’s story in the Corriere della Sera, which is considered Italy’s paper of record by many Romans. John Allen has a recap in his daily blog.
The story indicates that Boston’s own Cardinal Seán O’Malley is the preferred next Pope by Corriere della Sera’s writers and especially its readers.
I’ve heard my entire life that an American could never be elected Pope as long as the US remains a world political and economic superpower. However, I’m starting to wonder if the only people that believe that any longer are some Americans. Certainly it seems many Italians are discussing both Cardinal Timothy Dolan and Cardinal Seán as very strong candidates.
How exciting that in about a week’s time we will know whom our next Holy Father is!
Tomorrow morning at 10:30 Rome time, Cardinal Seán will be celebrating a Mass at his titular church, Santa Maria della Vittoria. Many other Cardinals are doing that also before they enter the Conclave. George and I will be there to cover it and we look forward to writing again tomorrow. It should be a great homily on the parable of the Prodigal Son and the loving response of the Father.