Pope's Birthday Tomorrow

Wednesday, April 15, 2009 1:00 PM Comments (0)

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson greets Pope Benedict XVI today in St. Peter's Square. (CNS/Reuters)

At his weekly general audience today and on the eve of his 82nd birthday, Pope Benedict XVI was greeted with warm applause and singing from a crowd of 30,000 pilgrims gathered under sunny skies in St. Peter’s Square.

Among those attending was Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico, who is in Rome at the invitation of the Sant’Egidio lay community because of his recent decision to sign legislation to abolish the death penalty in his state.

The Sant’Egidio community has long campaigned for a worldwide moratorium on the death penalty.

Meanwhile, on Vatican Radio today, papal spokesman Father Federico Lombardi reflected on Benedict’s birthday tomorrow.

“I hope,” the Jesuit priest...READ MORE

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Papal Vacation Plans

Tuesday, April 14, 2009 10:22 AM Comments (0)

Benedict at Les Combes, Italy, in 2006. (CNS/L'Osservatore Romano)

Pope Benedict XVI will be vacationing in Valle d’Aosta in the mountainous northwestern region of Italy later this year.

The Pope will be returning to the village of Les Combes, near the town of Aosta, from July 13-27. The Holy Father spent his first two summers as pope at Les Combes, which is located close to Europe’s largest peak, Mont Blanc.

The residence Benedict stayed at used to be a favorite of Pope John Paul II.

Bishop Giuseppe Anfossi of Aosta revealed the news April 6. He told reporters that he expressed “to His Holiness the joy and the gratitude of the Diocese of Aosta and the whole valley for this gesture of renewed friendship and closeness from you, and pastors and the...READ MORE

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Pope: I'll Visit Quake Survivors

Wednesday, April 08, 2009 1:56 PM Comments (0)

Rescue workers stand April 7 in the debris of a destroyed house in the town of Onna, Italy. (CNS/Reuters)

Pope Benedict XVI has called Archbishop Giuseppe Molinari of L’Aquila to say he plans to visit the earthquake-ravaged region at a time when his visit won’t hamper the rescue operations.

At today’s general audience at the Vatican, the Pope said: “I renew my spiritual closeness to the beloved community of L’Aquila and other counties hardest hit by violent seismic phenomenon of recent days, which caused many casualties, many wounded and massive damage to property. The speed with which authorities, police, volunteers and other rescue workers have come to our brothers illustrates the importance of solidarity in overcoming together such painful trials.”

Added the Holy Father, “Again I say...READ MORE

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Celestine’s Basilica Battered

Tuesday, April 07, 2009 11:12 AM Comments (1)

Santa Maria di Collemaggio's Holy Door. (abruzzoheritage.com)

One of the Italy’s most famous basilicas, Santa Maria di Collemaggio, was very badly damaged in yesterday’s earthquake in Italy.

Founded in the late 1200s by Pope Celestine V — the only pope ever to have abdicated — some of Santa Maria di Collemaggio’s distinct pink-and-white stone-faced structure remains intact, but inside is “a disaster,” according to its parish priest, Canon Nunzio Spinelli.

The high altar and two side altars couldn’t be saved, Canon Spinelli told today’s La Stampa newspaper.

“In front of the altar there is a huge pile of rubble, fallen beams, bricks, stones, tiles,” the priest said. “But the body of St. Celestine is safe.”

“You know,...READ MORE

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Abbess Dies in Quake

Monday, April 06, 2009 3:17 PM Comments (0)

A couple embrace near the ruins of their house the village of Onna, Italy. (CNS/Reuters)

The Adnkronos news agency has reported that Sister Gemma Antonucci, abbess of the Poor Clare nuns of the convent of Santa Chiara of Paganica, died in today’s earthquake in Italy.

According to the Adnkronos report, rescuers were trying to remove debris from another nun thought to be trapped in the collapsed building.

Adnkronos also reported as follows:

According to SIR, the news agency of the Italian bishops, Don Dionisio Umberto Rodriguez Cuartas, pastor of the 5,000 inhabitants of Paganica and director of Caritas L’Aquila, said: ‘‘There are at least three deaths in the parish, but I fear the number will rise because ‘the old’ part of the town has completely collapsed. It wasn’t...READ MORE

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Earthquake Rocks Italy

Monday, April 06, 2009 10:10 AM Comments (0)

An Italian soldier stands in front of a damaged church in the Italian village of Paganica after today's earthquake. (Reuters)

Like many here in Rome, we were awoken in the early hours of this morning by shaking beds, rattling doors, and the sounds of car alarms.

An earthquake had hit the Eternal City — one of the most serious to do so for many years.

But what we experienced in Rome was nothing compared to the suffering inflicted on the inhabitants of L’Aquila, the quake’s epicentre just 53 miles from Rome.

Measuring 6.3 on the Richter scale, the quake has so far claimed at least 92 people, including five children. That figure is expected to rise, according to the Italian news agency ANSA. At least 6,000 people who have been left homeless will be fed in L’Aquila’s soccer stadium later Monday. L’Aquila...READ MORE

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About Edward Pentin

Edward Pentin
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Edward Pentin began reporting on the Pope and the Vatican with Vatican Radio before moving on to become the Rome correspondent for the National Catholic Register. He has also reported on the Holy See and the Catholic Church for a number of other publications including Newsweek, Newsmax, Zenit, The Catholic Herald, and The Holy Land Review, a Franciscan publication specializing in the Church and the Middle East. Follow on Twitter @edwardpentin