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.
Welcome to another edition of Vatican Connections. Since our last episode, a lot of interesting things have happened in Rome. Here are just some of the stories that we bring to you on tonight’s sho ...read more
Welcome to another edition of Vatican Connections. This past week the Vatican was filled with humbling emotion, discernment, and ardent resolve as leaders of the Catholic Church from all over the worl ...read more
This week, all the presidents from the world’s episcopal conferences will convene in Rome for four days at the pope’s request for the much-anticipated sexual abuse summit. On the eve of this event ...read more
This week the pope made history yet again by being the first pope ever to set foot in the Arabian Peninsula. Embarking on his 27th international apostolic journey, the Holy Father travelled to the Uni ...read more
Last week was all about the 34th World Youth Day as the pope travelled to Panama to be with the youth in what is the largest single gathering of Catholic youth in the world. Yet, despite all the fest ...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.