08 November 2015

A visit to St. Peter's Basilica

On a gorgeous and sunny day in Rome, I had the great pleasure today of showing a friend and fellow Quincyan around during his brief visit to the Eternal City.

Altar of the Madonna Bocciata
The day began with a visit to the Basilica of St. Peter where I offered the Holy Mass in the crypt at the altar in the Chapel of the Madonna Bocciata. According to my guidebook, the story of this chapel and of the fresco above the altar can be summarized as follows:
Built at the end of the sixteenth century, this chapel was named after the miraculous image of the Virgin with Child, placed here in 1631. Prior to that the fresco (thirteenth century), attributed to the circle of Pietro Cavallini, was in the portico of the old Basilica, where a drunken soldier had thrown a stone or "bowl" (boccia) at it, striking the Virgin's face and leaving a clear lesion on her right cheek. Drops of blood are then said to have fallen from the painting onto the floor paving. To the sides of the Virgin with Child are two flagstones from the old flooring of the portico where the miraculous blood is said to have fallen and which are now touched by the faithful. Reassembled in 1949-1950 during restoration work on the Grottoes, the altar is made of a table supported by the base of a small ninth century altar form the old Basilica, and by a rear panel with two vertical fascias with Cosmatesque elements. The decoration is by G.B. Ricci (1618-1619) [A. Breda, et al, The Vatican: General Guide to the Vatican City (Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2012), 118].
After Mass, we made our way to the cupola to look out upon the Vatican City State and the City of Rome before too many other people did the same:

After a simple breakfast of delicious pastries (one of which made quite a mess all over my cassock as, unbeknownst to me, it dripped chocolate cream down my front), we returned to the Piazza di San Pietro (after I changed) to attend the Angelus Address of the Holy Father.

Since we arrived about thirty minutes early and had been walking around quit a lot, we decided to sit inside the colonnade to rest our feet out of the warming sun in a spot where we could view the windows of the papal apartment:

To my great surprise and delight, we were able to remain seated there for the duration of the Holy Father's address in which he reflected on the Gospel proclaimed by the Church today, saying, in part:
Today Jesus also tells us that the measurement is not the quantity but the fullness. There is a difference. It is not a question of the wallet, but of the heart. There are heart diseases that lower the heart to the portfolio. To love God "with all your heart" means to trust Him, to trust in His providence, and to serve him in the poorest brothers and sisters without expecting anything in return. Faced with the needs of others, we are called to deprive ourselves of essential things, not only the superfluous; we are called to give the necessary time, not only what remains extra; we are called to give immediately and unconditionally some of our talent, not after using it for our own purposes or our own group.

Let us ask the Lord to admit us to the school of this poor widow, whom Jesus places in the teaching chair and presents as a teacher of the living Gospel even in the bewilderment of the disciples. Through the intercession of Mary, the poor woman who gave her life to God for us, ask for the gift of a poor heart, but rich in generosity that is happy and free [more].
After receiving the of the Holy Father, we grabbed a quick bite of pizza at my favorite pizzeria before touring the Coloseum and the Roman Forum. It was a quick visit, but an enjoyable one.

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