Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Feast of Rome

As you all know, tomorrow is the Solemnity of Ss. Peter and Paul. In keeping with the practice established by John Paul II in 1984, Benedict XVI will celebrate Rome's patronal feast by imposing the pallium on most of the new metropolitan archbishops appointed within the past year.

Tonight, at the close of First Vespers in the Basilica, the bands of lambs' wool blessed by the Pope and conferred as the sign of "the fulness of the episcopal office" will be placed in a niche above the tomb of St Peter, where they will remain until the morning liturgy.

In those years when there isn't a conclave or consistory to create new cardinals, this buzz-filled week is always the time when ecclesiastical Rome receives its largest influx of bishops and pilgrims on ceremonial business and for the reception circuit. In other words, in a city where life is one big festival, this is the big party week.

It doesn't hurt that the annual embassy parties for the Queen's Birthday (UK), Canada Day and the 4th of July (US, of course) are held around this time, and everyone's feeling all happy and light in advance of the estate exodus. And keeping with this, of course, are some incredible scenes and stories. So to everyone on the ground over there -- and how I wish I could be there -- keep us all looped-in on the feel of things.... Have a great time.

For the rest of us, tomorrow morning's "Pallium Mass" in St Peter's Basilica begins at 9.30 Rome time (0730 GMT, 3.30am Eastern).... The (karlon- and commentary-free) CTV feed will be available.