This week brought another historic moment in church history. As of Thursday, there are two popes living in Vatican City.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI returned to the Vatican after two months living in the papal residence at Castel Gandolfo. His helicopter left the papal estate at 4:30pm local time and arrived at the heliport in the Vatican Gardens fifteen minutes later.
Waiting to greet him on the ground was small delegation of officials, including Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, and Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello. The retired pope was driven to his new home, the Mater Ecclesia Monastery, where Pope Francis was waiting to greet his predecessor. The two popes made a brief stop in the monastery’s chapel for a moment of prayer.
In a statement released shortly after the retired pope’s arrival, Father Federico Lombardi said Benedict XVI will dedicate himself to serving the church through prayer.
The retired pope will live in the monastery with his personal secretary, Archbishop Georg Ganswein and the four consecrated laywomen known as “memores domini.”
The monastery had been empty since November 2012. The building was originally the Vatican gardener’s house and was even used by Vatican Radio for a time. In 1994 John Paul II ordered renovations to expand the building and turn it into a convent for cloistered nuns.
That same year a group of Poor Clares was invited by Pope John Paul II to move into the convent and spend their days praying for the church and the pope. Since then groups of Discalced Carmelites, Benedictine and Visitation sisters have lived in the convent. Each order spent either a five year or three year term living in the Mater Ecclesia convent, praying for the church.
The Visitations sisters ended their term in the convent in November and renovations began on the building, which was in need of a new roof.
The Mater Ecclesia monastery is located close by the replica Lourdes Grotto in the Vatican Gardens. Both Pope Francis and the retired Pope Benedict have personal devotions to Our Lady of Lourdes, which has fueled speculation that the two men could conceivably meet casually for prayer at the grotto.
Whether or not that ever happens remains to be seen. Even if it does, it is entirely possible the rest of the world will never know. What is certain? Once again, the church is making history.
What’s behind the frame? When Pope Francis is photographed during a papal trip, it’s more than just a simple snapshot. Researchers at the University of Missouri School of Journalism wanted to know ...read more
In this episode of Vatican Connections we to talk about US President Donald Trump’s recent meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican on May 24. Since then and only eight days after that historic visi ...read more
The Pontifical Swiss Guard is one of the smallest armies in the world, and one of the oldest still in operation. Its main responsibility is to protect the Pope and the Apostolic Palace. Although they ...read more
The Pope’s agenda this week includes his apostolic and symbolic visit to Egypt. Greg Burke, Director of the Holy See Press Office, affirmed the Pope Francis’ will to send out a positive mess ...read more
On Easter Sunday, Pope Francis sent a letter to the bishop of Assisi-Nocera Umbra-Gualdo Tadino, Domenico Sorrentino, offering his blessings and support for his decision to establish a shrine in memo ...read more
Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation – Born on the wings of World Youth Day 2002 in Canada, Salt + Light is a unique instrument of the New Evangelization. It is dedicated to being – and helping others become – the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Our mission is to proclaim Jesus Christ and the joy of the Gospel to the world by telling stories of hope that bring people closer to Christ and the Catholic faith.