Some papal pics

This is an awful moment to be trying to get work done: papal abdication, papal election, surprises and analyses of them, and just the sheer coping with so much totally unexpected change in the space of a month. I am trying to give a retreat to the Knights of Malta here at Douai. I had to tear up what I had begun to prepare for them since there was no way I could find the necessary attentiveness to finish it. Luckily, the good Knights are happy for me to work through these last few weeks with them, to attempt to extract the spiritual and evangelical meaning from them, howsoever tentatively. Bless you good Knights!

So with two more conferences to finish off, and sheep to feed, and a Holy Hour to celebrate, plus the normal monastic round of liturgy, posting might not feature highly today. Unless, of course, another ecumenical bonanza materializes, or Pope Francis reveals himself even more in his meeting with the media today. In time of need, one can usually squeeze a few extra seconds from every minute.

So, on a lighter note, some papal pictures from the last few days. They will all get bigger if you click them.

This photo is doing the rounds. Magnificent. Just after his election and dressing in the Room of Tears, Pope Francis heads from the Sistine Chapel to greet the masses, il suo populo. What was going through his mind?

To the balcony for the Urbi et Orbi.

Pope Benedict had been the first pope ever to watch coverage of the election of his successor.

benedict watching conclave

The next morning, Pope Francis, who had returned to his room with the other cardinal at Sta Martha for the night, eschewed the papal limousine, and caught the bus with them to Mass in the palace he had just acquired. Are these pics from a cell-phone armed Eminence?

760868-vatican-pope 762221-vatican-pope 763065-vatican-pope

But catching the bus to work was nothing new for his Holiness, who did the same as Archbishop of Buenos Aires.

Pope Francis on bus

After Mass he decided to make the customary visit to Sta Maria Maggiore, one of the four papal basilicas in Rome, a little earlier than usual. Again, the limo stayed in the garage. He hailed a passing Vatican police car!


At least in this he was acknowledging to some degree his need for increased security now. He later visited an ailing Cardinal Mejia in hospital, again by discreet mode of transport. His impromptu travels have the advantage of allowing no potential assassin time to plan. Nevertheless, I hope he does not expose himself so much that he becomes another pope to fall to an assassin. His welfare is not merely a private concern: in a profound way, he belongs to us now.

He brought flowers for our Lady.


And paused to pray also before the tomb of Pope St Pius V, the codifier of the so-called Tridentine Mass, or more properly now, the Extraordinary Form of the Mass; St Pius V was also a zealous reformer of Church and Curia. mmmm….

pius v

On the way back to the palace, he dropped in at the Domus Paulus VI, the clerical hotel where he had stayed pre-conclave. He grabbed his remaining things and, as you know by now, he paid his bill.


And they found the key in time for Pope Francis to enter his new apartment. I wonder if Benedict XVI left him a little welcome note? In Buenos Aires he had a small flat in which he cooked his own meals. It is unlikely this flat has a kitchenette…. yet!

new apartment

Where's the light switch?

Pope Francis had a little stumble yesterday. The media pounced on it. Some treated the media response with the scorn it deserved. No picture of it here. So an old man, sitting on an unfamiliar chair in an unfamiliar place, doing unfamiliar things, forgets the chair has a step and so has a little wobble. Piffling trifle. Let’s move on.

Pray for the Pope. You can use Leo XIII’s prayer:

O Lord, we are the millions of believers, humbly kneeling at Thy feet and begging Thee to preserve, defend and save the Sovereign Pontiff for many years. He is the Father of the great fellowship of souls and our Father as well. On this day, as on every other day, he is praying for us also, and is offering unto Thee with holy fervour the sacred Victim of love and peace.

Wherefore, O Lord, turn Thyself toward us with eyes of pity; for we are now, as it were, forgetful of ourselves, and are praying above all for him. Do Thou unite our prayers with his and receive them into the bosom of Thine infinite mercy, as a sweet savour of active and fruitful charity, whereby the children are united in the Church to their Father. All that he asks of Thee this day, we too ask it of Thee in unison with him.

Whether he weeps or rejoices, whether he hopes or offers himself as a victim of charity for his people, we desire to be united with him; nay more, we desire that the cry of our hearts should be made one with his. Of Thy great mercy grant, O Lord, that not one of us may be far from his mind and his heart in the hour that he prays and offers unto Thee the Sacrifice of Thy blessed Son. At the moment when our venerable High Priest, holding in His hands the very Body of Jesus Christ, shall say to the people over the Chalice of benediction these words: “The peace of the Lord be with you always,” grant, O Lord, that Thy sweet peace may come down upon our hearts and upon all the nations with new and manifest power. Amen.

22 thoughts on “Some papal pics

  1. So good to read from such a reliable source, your words and work is very much appreciated. Will be saying some additional prayers for you during this extra busy period.


  2. I’m trying to be happy we have a Pope and trying to be grateful that God has given us a shepherd, but the more I read about him, the more fearful I am of what our Cardinal Electors were doing.

    The last couple of tweets from Roger Cardinal Mahony who straight out accused Benedict XVI and all his predecessors for pomposity and over-inflated grandeur while gleeful proclaiming Francis will eradicate that, and also promising his followers more low church liturgy have not been reassuring at all. I know that one should not trust a liar and a fraud, but still as a Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church, whatever his personal failures, one cannot help but be less than reassured by his tweets.

    I think I will restrict myself to blogs such as these and 1 or 2 sources of information for the rest of the pontificate so that I do not get unduly concerned.


    1. I may have disturbed you with my latest post Justin – sorry! But I did feel that Mahony had to be addressed. Let’s face it: Mahony was very much NOT in the loop this conclave. He was even seen eating alone one night in Rome days before the conclave began. A cardinal, before a conclave, eating alone in a restaurant: it speaks volumes. No wanted his opinion. He was in disgrace. So ignore his tweets. He knows nothing about the new pope. The cardinalatial red is not as sacred as episcopal purple, nor is it necessarily permanent per se. Mahony might find himself back in purple piping if he cannot keep his nasty mouth closed. Stranger things have happened.



  3. It is all very well to talk of ‘pomposity & over-inflated grandeur’ but the office of Pope (forgetting the holder of the office) must be respected by both the holder & everyone else. How would we feel if HM The Queen travelled everywhere on the Underground?
    It could be said that Pope Francis might be showing pride rather than humility by personalising too much his papacy rather than look on it as a high office which must be lived up to rather than reduce it to the lowest common denominator.
    Please, your Holiness, when carrying out your office of Pope respect the trappings of that office, if you wish to be humble then do so by sitting in your private quarters in your dressing gown & slippers.
    Humility only works when done in private. It is hardly humility to say “look how humble I am.”


    1. Actually, David, I am not going to disagree with you. I quite agree that true humility is to submit quietly to what is demanded of one in any particular role. And I quite agree that the mode of humility is very important, and must be suited to the context.

      But perhaps we should allow for the fact that his acts so far reflects the style of life he has probably lived for decades, and certainly since 1998. Old habits die hard. His humility is not a pose. And of course, the Vatican is all new to him. He has never held a curial post or even studied in Rome. He has a lot to learn, and part of that will be which old habits he can keep, and which he must set aside.

      So let us pray that he finds his feet soon. Maybe Patriarch Bartholomew will have some sage words of advice to whisper to him on Tuesday.



  4. Well reported Fr Hugh thank you. Well what’s worse lace and ermine and traditional attire of a Pope or the extravagant tent vestments of Card mahony not forgetting the most ugly “cathedral” he has left as his legacy in LA. It was interesting watching BXVI’s farewell to the College of Cardinals and his reaction to Cardinal Mahony. Pope Benedict had literally next to nothing to say to Mahony his reaction was almost blank when compared to the warm way he greeted the other cardinals.

    A very nasty comment from Mahony. I recall watching the footage of his testimony on internet regarding child sex abuse some 10 years ago and was shocked by his demeanor and statements.


    1. I have just gone and looked up Cardinal Mahony’s Twitter page. Disgusting, self-righteous, spiteful tripe. And the effrontery! Truly, Cardinal Mahony should get himself to a cloister and keep his mouth forever shut. No repentance from him for his manifest sins of omission and commission, of such gravity that his successor has excluded him from active ministry. Cardinal O’Brien had the decency to remove himself voluntarily from the conclave and keep a dignified silence after apologising. He behaved like a repentant Christian gentleman – Mahony deserves none of those three labels. A nasty man who needs to lose the status with which he has protected himself for so long.

      But anger must give way to a more Christian sentiment. We must pray for Cardinal Mahony. His demon of bitterness and infidelity is a strong one indeed.


    2. Sad to say, Mahony seems to be very much part of the problem that poor Benedict had to cope with in the Church: endemic self-interest. He is shameless in it. He has portrayed himself as the victim. So what could Benedict to him? Well, apart from “Repent”.

      And as you say, Mahony spent a fortune on modernist bilge. Benedict went through the wardrobe and found some nice things already there – and hey, they just happened to have meaning and be tasteful. Good taste is obviously a vice in the eyes of some, usually those who do not have it!



  5. CAn you confirm the photo of Benedict watching the television is from the actual election night? What is the source? It looks more to me like an archival photo. Any help appreciated.


      1. Thanks for the posts Fr – I’ve very much enjoyed reading as its so easy to come across garbage on blogs.

        Yes the shoes indeed – and I dare say he looks much healthier in this photo than of late. I don’t think it’s a recent one, unfortunately.

        And I find it difficult drawing the line – how do we remain Christian and charitable to Mahony? Today’s Gospel speaks volumes – let he who is without sin cast the first stone.. Your comment on Cardinal O’Brien was enlightening. As a Scot I still feel very saddened by his news.

        Blessings, Cheryl


      2. Welcome Cheryl.

        The photo is intriguing. I too doubt it is as it is purported to be in the net. For a start, how could the History Channel get something like this so quickly!? But it does serve rather well as an image to capture the fact that Benedict is the first pope to watch a conclave and installation of his successor in an atmosphere of peace and serenity.

        To be Christian and charitable does not preclude naming sin when we see it, nor naming inappropriate behaviour from one who should be setting us a better example. I have suggested the best way to show him Christian charity: to pray for him.

        Cardinal O’Brien, for all his now-very-public failings, is not a criminal. He has repented, and seems to have done so long ago. For all those who call him a hypocrite given the way he defended Church teaching on sexuality, they should read one short letter in (yes, amazingly) The Tablet, which raises the point that if Cardinal O’Brien is a hypocrite for being a repentant sinner preaching the truth, then we will have huge problems with St Paul, St Augustine and Dorothy Day.

        That is my major problem with Mahony: not one sign of repentance from one whose sins are much greater than O’Brien’s.

        Peace upon you.


      3. Thank you Fr, your explanation helps my attitude towards these men greatly. Prayer indeed, and as a side, how wonderful that Pope Francis should have his inauguration Mass under the Feast and intercession of St Joseph. God’s most perfect timing!!



      4. Probably it is a sign of nerves at the apparent reticence of Pope Francis to step directly into the papal (red!!) shoes as one normally would. Gestures and symbols early in a papacy are going to be examined with great earnestness to see what they might signal for the future. For many of us who suffered in the wilderness years of dire liturgy, de rigeur heresy and fashionable scorn of tradition(s) and piety, the advent of Benedict to the papacy was a moment of liberation. He seemed intent to stop the rot affecting the substance of the faith. JP II had recaptured the world’s attention to the Church as a force to be reckoned with in the world (not least in the fall of European Communism). Benedict built on this by reminding an attentive world of core eternal truths which override the fads of any one day. Eternal truths are served by symbols that move truth beyond essentially inadequate words and engage the human person in its full nature, body and soul. Benedict understood this.

        Francis is a Jesuit. Symbols have never loomed large in Jesuit thinking. When they have, say in the last 50 years, they have been, frequently, manufactured ones with often political focus. His focus on Christ, on combat against Satan, on the protective motherhood of Mary are wonderful and heartening. But there is more to orthodoxy than right belief. There is is right worship, and right symbolism. In a highly visual age such as ours, flooded as we are with images on our phones, computers, TVs etc, the Church needs to reclaim its symbols as tools in capturing the attention of the world, in evangelizing it. This, perhaps, Francis has not cottoned on to yet. Perhaps also he has not understood fully the need to accept the fullness of the papal office, trappings and all, if he is to be effective in keeping the world’s gaze.

        A corollary of what Mundabor writes is that a suit and collar pope will not capture the world’s attention for long, and if they are not paying attention, he can talk as much as he likes, and the world will not hear. Unless he makes a mistake of course. Then the world will shine the spotlight on him, and that is all the world will know: his mistakes. Mundabor is right essentially.

        However, Francis must be allowed to grow into the job. Patriarch Bartholomew is coming to his inauguration, a millennial event! Francis has enough knowledge and experience of the Christian East to know the high value they place on symbolism. A denuded Catholicism will not interest them. I trust he knows that. For his blossoming papacy I, we, must pray.



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