Vatican Corner 04-05-2020

The papal blessing: ‘Urbi et Orbi’ dates back to the time of the Roman Empire and is the blessing given to the City of Rome and the Catholic world on the occasion of a newly elected pope, and also on every Christmas day and Easter Sunday. Pope Francis gave a special ‘Urbi et Orbi’ blessing on Friday, March 27, 2020 for those suffering from the coronavirus pandemic, which included listening to the Word of God and Eucharistic Adoration. Worldwide, as of this writing on March 29th, approximately 721,000 people have contracted the respiratory disease COVID-19, with 34,000 dead and with 152,000 recovered. Pope Francis held the service in a rain-drenched, empty St. Peter’s Square. The miraculous crucifix from the Church of San Marcello al Corso had been brought to the Square. It was the only religious image to survive undamaged from a church fire in 1519. During the “black plague” that devastated Rome three years later in 1522, it was processed through Rome for 16 days and the plague disappeared. It was returned to St. Marcello and ever since on every Roman Holy year, about every 50 years, the crucifix is again processed to St. Peter’s Square. On the back is engraved the names of each pope who witnessed the procession. St. John Paul II was the last name to be added during the Jubilee Year 2000. At the special ‘Urbi et Orbi’ service, Pope Francis addressed God and said that “it is not the time of your judgment, but of our judgment: a time to choose what matters and what passes away, a time to separate what is necessary from what is not. It is a time to get our lives back on track with regard to you, Lord, and to others.” Francis prayed that the “almighty and merciful God” would see how people are suffering and give them comfort. He asked to care for the sick and dying, for medical workers exhausted by caring for the sick and for political leaders who bear the burden of making decisions to protect their people. The Service included the reading of the Gospel of Mark’s account of Jesus calming the stormy sea. The Pope said “Let us invite Jesus into the boat of our lives. Let us hand over our fears to him so that he can conquer them” He said like the disciples on the stormy Sea of Galilee, “we will experience that, with him on board, there will be no shipwreck, because this is God’s strength: turning to the good everything that happens to us, even the bad things.”