Monday, April 17, 2006

Live from the Alban Hills

A day after closing out his first papal Holy Week, and at the threshold of the first anniversary of his election, B16 confirmed days of buzz in Rome and skipped town, helicoptering out to the summer retreat at Castel Gandolfo for what's being termed as "a brief period of rest."

And for some reason, a gaggle of Romans had plans to be out there today, too. Che gioia!

Anyways, it is the custom that the Pope appear at the window of his Vatican apartment on Easter Monday to pray the Regina caeli -- the prayer which takes the place of the Angelus for the Easter season. Linked by jumbotron to St Peter's Square, Benedict XVI led the prayer from the window of the Castel Gandolfo courtyard.

Commemorating the 500th anniversary of the laying of the cornerstone of St Peter's Basilica, the Pope did have a notable word on the role of art and architecture in the life of the church....

Here's the Whispers translation of his meditation:
Dear brothers and sisters,

In the light of the Paschal Mystery, which we celebrate in the liturgy all this week, I'm happy to find myself with you and to renew the most beautiful Christian announcement: Christ is risen, alleluia! The typical Marian character of this meeting of ours calls us to live the spiritual joy of Easter in communion with Mary most holy, thinking the great joy she had at the resurrection of Jesus. In the prayer of the Regina caeli, which in this Paschal time is recited in place of the Angelus, we turn to the Virgin inviting her to rejoice for He who she bore in her womb is risen: "Quia quem meruisti portare, resurrexit, sicut dixit." ["For he who you merited to bear has risen as he said."] Mary carried in her heart the "good news" of the resurrection, the source and secret of true joy and authentic peace, that Christ dead and risen has conquered for us in the sacrifice of the Cross. We ask Mary that, as she has accompanied us in the days of the Passion, she may continue to guide our steps in this time of spiritual joy, that we may ever more grow in the knowledge and in the love of the Lord and become witnesses and apostles of his peace.

In the Easter context, I'd like to share with you today the joy of a very significant anniversary: 500 years ago, precisely 18 April 1506, Pope Julius II laid the cornerstone of the new Basilica of St Peter, which the whole world admires in the strong harmony of its form. I wish to recall with gratitude the Supreme Pontiffs who willed this extraordinary work over the tomb of the Apostle Peter. I recall with admiration the artists who contributed their genius to build and adorn it, as I'm also grateful to the personnel of the Fabricca di San Pietro [the "Fabric of St Peter's"] who very generously see to the maintenance and the safeguarding of such a singular masterpiece of art and of faith. May this happy circumstance of the 500th anniversary reawaken in all Catholics the desire to be "living stones" (1 Pt 2:5) for the building up of the holy Church, in which is resplendent the "light of Christ" (Lumen gentium, 1), leading to love lived and testified to across the world (Jn 13:34-15).

May the Virgin Mary, who we invoke in the Litany of Loreto as "Causa nostrae laetitiae -- cause of our joy" obtain for us always the experience of joy of being part of the spiritual edifice of the Church, "the community of love" born from the heart of Christ.

Regina caeli, laetare, alleluia....

AP/Andrew Medichini