Stunning Holy Sepulcher Virtual Tour

03/19/2010 Comments (2)

A screenshot of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, part of a Turkish initiative which aims to promote peaceful coexistence among Jerusalem's religions and cultures.

Easter is fast approaching and one of the best places to celebrate Our Lord’s Resurrection is, of course, the Holy Land with a pilgrimage to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

Not everyone is fortunate enough to be able to make such a trip, but thanks to a Turkish multimedia company, it’s now possible to make a virtual visit from your own computer.

Two websites, and, have teamed up with Turkish photographer, Aykut Ince, to create this stunning panoramic virtual tour of the basilica. Using your mouse or cursor keys, you can view the basilica in detail from every possible angle. Note you will need a fast/broadband connection and Adobe Flash to view it....READ MORE

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Holy See's Concerns Over Religious Freedom

03/15/2010 Comment

Archbishop Silvano Tomasi

Nearly 70 percent of the world’s 6.8 billion people live in countries with high restrictions on religion, the brunt of which often falls on religious minorities.

Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Holy See’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations and Specialized Institutions in Geneva, made this alarming observation during the 13th session of the Human Rights Council on March 12th.

His speech, a helpful and timely assessment of restrictions on religious freedom and what governments, including Western democracies, must do to protect religious minorities, is reproduced here in full (source: Fides):


Statement by H.E. Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi, Permanent...READ MORE

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Pope to Skip Alpine Vacation

03/12/2010 Comments (1)

Pope Benedict XVI will not be taking a vacation in the Italian Alps this summer but instead spend all the season at the papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo near Rome, the Vatican announced today.

According to a Holy See press office statement: “During the summer, the Holy Father will travel directly from Rome to Castel Gandolfo to spend the whole summer. He appreciated the calls received this year to spend a few weeks in alpine locations and has sincerely thanked the bishops who had offered, but this year he prefers to begin his period of rest and study immediately, without undertaking further transfers.”

Since becoming Pope, Benedict XVI has spent about three weeks in the...READ MORE

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How to Bring Peace to Nigeria

03/09/2010 Comments (1)

BOY CRIES DURING FUNERAL IN NIGERIA A boy sitting with his mother cries during a funeral March 8 for people killed in attacks in the Dogo Nahawa village, near the capital city of Jos in central Nigeria. (CNS photo/Akintunde Akinleye, Reuters) (March 8, 2010)

“Nigeria: Calls for inquiry into religious violence” runs the headline in an article by the Associated Press today.

Hundreds of Christians, including women and children, were killed over the weekend when Muslim herdsmen attacked three mostly Christian towns near the northern Nigerian city of Jos. The attacks are thought to be reprisals for similar clashes between Muslim and Christian groups over control of fertile farmland in the region in January.

But contrary to many news reports, Nigeria’s bishops and the Holy See stress the conflict is more about ethnicity and politics than religion. Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi expressed the Holy See’s “concern and horror”...READ MORE

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The Apostolic Palace - Behind the Scenes

03/03/2010 Comments (1)

RAI Vaticano on Facebook have posted a fascinating behind the scenes look at a day in the life of the Holy Father, recorded in 2007.

To view it, go to this page and click on ‘LA GIORNATA DI PAPA BENEDETTO SOTTO LA TELECAMERA CTV-DE CARLI [HQ]’ towards the bottom. (The link below that one shows the Pope celebrating Mass in his private chapel).

Although the commentary is in Italian, the pictures are mostly self-explanatory. It might be helpful also to watch it alongside this article I wrote on the documentary back in 2008 before it was sold to other broadcasters.

Rai Uno aired the documentary, filmed by Vatican Television Center, on the Holy Father’s 80th birthday. After some archive...READ MORE

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iPhone Apps and the Vatican

03/03/2010 Comment

News of the first Vatican-sponsored application for the iPhone made me wonder what’s needed for app developers to gain Vatican endorsement for their products, or for new digital media in general.

The iPhone app, sponsored by the Vatican Observatory Foundation, is the first to come from a Vatican-affiliated institution. But the Vatican has also been giving its approval to independent app developers, most notably the iBreviary which was developed by Fr. Paolo Padrini, an Italian priest, and an app from H2O news which offers video and audio coverage of the Vatican.

According to Msgr. Paul Tighe, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, the Vatican will “approve or...READ MORE

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Mass Media Ignore Iraq Christian Emergency

02/26/2010 Comment

An Iraqi soldier stands guard near a campaign billboard of Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in Mosul, Iraq, Feb. 24. The billboard reads "State of Law coalition, the willing of change and construction." (CNS photo/Khalid al-Mousuly, Reuters)

The news has escaped much of the mass media but Christian families are leaving the northern Iraqi city of Mosul in their droves to escape a concerted campaign of violence and intimidation.

Chaldean Bishop Emil Shimoun Nona has said that Mosul is experiencing a “humanitarian emergency” and that “hundreds of Christian families” left the city Feb. 24 in search of shelter, leaving behind their homes, property, commercial activities, according to Asia News. The situation “is dramatic”, he said, and warned that Mosul could be “emptied completely of Christians”.

The families have chosen to flee after a spate of violent attacks which left five Christians dead last week, and members of a...READ MORE

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Spiritual Exercises and Today's Secular Society

02/19/2010 Comment

Pope Benedict XVI, seen through the doorway in a traditionally separate and private chapel, attends a prayer and meditation session on the final day of a Lenten retreat for the Pope and Vatican officials at the Vatican March 3, 2007. The retreat that year was led by retired Italian Cardinal Giacomo Biffi, seen at left. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano via Catholic Press Photo)

During this time of spiritual exercises and Lenten retreats, L’Osservatore Romano today reports on the words of Cardinal Salvatore De Giorgi, president of the Italian Federation of Spiritual Exercises (FIES), who has issued a timely reminder of their importance, especially in today’s world marked by secularism.

Addressing the opening of a three day conference of the federation in Rome this week, he began by stressing how, in this Year of the Priest, spiritual exercises are an invaluable means for clergy to enhance and promote their life and ministry. He pointed out that this is the reason why popes, from Leo XIII to Benedict XVI, have proposed and recommended them, “not so much as a...READ MORE

Filed under lent, lenten retreat, spirituality, st. ignatius

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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