October 16, 1978:
The first balcony appearance of newly-elected Pope John Paul II (CNS File Photo)
Where were you on October 16, 1978?
I was between classes at college in Philadelphia when word came through the hallways that white smoke had been seen coming from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel.
After three days of waiting, we finally had a new pope! I rushed to turn on my tiny black and white TV, and watched as the crowds grew in St. Peter’s Square while commentators speculated as to which Italian cardinal might become the 264th leader of the Roman Catholic Church.
I will never forget the announcement in Latin that Cardinal Karol Jozef Wojtyla (1920-2005), at age 58, had been elected as the 263rd successor of St. Peter the Apostle. The news commentators were struggling to figure out who he was, from which country he came, and how to pronounce his name.
You see, Pope John Paul II was the first non-Italian pope in 455 years. Those reporting on the conclave from both the Catholic and secular press were all assuming that this new pontiff would also be Italian. Instead, the College of Cardinals elected the Archbishop of Krakow, Poland, who had served in that position since 1963 and who was named a cardinal by Pope Paul VI in 1967.
Ten interesting facts about the election of Pope John Paul II:
1. The Year of Three Popes:
This was the second time in less than eight weeks that Catholics from around the world gathered in front of our televisions to learn the outcome of a papal election. Called the “Year of Three Popes,” 1978 included the death of Blessed Pope Paul VI on August 6, the election of Patriarch of Venice Albino Luciani as Pope John Paul I on August 26, followed by his sudden death 33 days later on September 28. His pontificate is the shortest in our modern era. The Church and the world were stunned by the death of this new pontiff, as the College of Cardinals were called back to Rome for yet another conclave.
2. Who were the electors?
The conclave to elect Pope St. John Paul II began on October 14, 1978. Attending as electors were the 111 members of the College of Cardinals who had not yet reached age 80.
The geographic breakdown includes: 25 cardinals from Italy, 30 more from other European nations, 12 Africa, 9 from Asia, and 4 from Oceania, 19 from South America, and 12 from North America.
3. The accommodations:
“They expected it might take a long time to elect the next pope, while accommodation or cells were cast for by lot--some in poky little offices with unplugged and dead telephones, others in forty-foot high Renaissance reception salons They slept on 'a simple infirmary bed borrowed from the College of Propaganda Fidei; with a red-shaded lamp by the bed which was too faint to read by; a wash basin, soap (made by Donge of Paris) and Kleenex; a bucket for slops; a writing-table with note-paper and an ashtray, a prie-dieu'. Cardinal Siri of Genoa, a leading conservative, said 'It is like being buried alive', but the cautious, gentle Cardinal Hume of Westminster commented, 'Many people criticize the way a conclave is arranged, but it came to me that all these arrangements were symbolic--there was nothing between the cardinals and God. That seemed to me to be right.”
4. The voting:
As accounts of the three days of secret proceedings trickled out over the months and years that followed the conclave, we learned that two Italian cardinals, Archbishop of Genoa Giuseppe Siri and Archbishop of Florence Giovanni Benelli were in the forefront in the ballots, but neither was able to go ahead and reach the required two-thirds plus one majority vote (equalling 75 or more necessary for election).
On the second day of voting, Cardinal Wojtyla was suggested as a compromise candidate by Cardinal Franz König (1905-2004), then-Archbishop of Vienna. With a number of supporters from the camps of Cardinals Siri and Benelli, along with most of the American cardinals (led by Cardinal John Krol of Philadelphia), Wojtyla was elected on the eighth ballot with 99 of the 111 votes.
“With obedience in faith to Christ, my Lord, and with trust in the Mother of Christ and the Church, in spite of great difficulties, I accept.”
—Cardinal Wojtyla upon learning that he had been elected in the 1978 conclave
5. The new papal name:
Cardinal Wojtyla honored the brief legacy of his predecessor by adopting his name and becoming Pope John Paul II.
Pope John Paul I had been the first pope to take two names upon his election. He adopted the pontifical names of his two predecessors who led the Church through the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965): Pope John XXIII (1958-1963) and Pope Paul VI (1963-1978).
6. The announcement:
Cardinal Pericle Felici
(1911-1982) was the senior Cardinal-Deacon in 1978, and thus had the rare honor of making two papal introductions with the “Habemus papam” announcements for both Popes John Paul I and John Paul II. In the same capacity, Cardinal Felici had the privilege of bestowing to each of them the pallium at their papal inaugurations.
Cardinal Felici made the historic announcement for Pope John Paul II on October 16, 1978 at 7:15 pm from the balcony overlooking St. Peter’s Square:
“Anuntio vobis gaudium magnum:
Eminentissimum ac Reverendissimum Dominum,
Dominum Carolum Sanctæ Romanæ Ecclesiæ Cardinalem Wojtyla
Qui sibi nomen imposuit Ioannis Pauli.”
(“I announce to you a great joy:
We have a Pope!
The Most Eminent and Most Reverend Lord,
Lord Karol Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church Wojtyla
Who took himself to the name John Paul.”
7. Reflections from Cardinal Wojtyla’s priest-secretary:
Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz (born 1939) of Krakow, who had been serving as the priest-secretary of Cardinal Wojtyla since 1966, was with the growing crowds below in St. Peter’s Square awaiting the announcement.
In an interview with L’Osservatore Romano
, he recalled that many of the pilgrims who surrounded him thought the announced name sounded African. He noted that “protocol requires that before speaking, the new Pontiff should bestow a blessing in Latin, but the Polish Pope chose to speak first in Italian with a greeting that was historic: ‘I have been called from a faraway land…If I make a mistake, please correct me.”
Cardinal Dziwisz spoke of his close relationship with Wojtyla since he became his priest-secretary in twelve years prior: “That day (in 1966) I learned to be close to him. I did so for 39 years, first in Krakow and later in Rome. My clothes were soiled with his blood on May 13, 1981. And I have again recalled the words he wrote for St. Stanislaw, the patron of Poland: ‘If the word does not convert, blood will.’ I was always close to Karol Wojtyla. Me, a priest caressed by a gift and a mystery.”
8. The first words and blessing of Pope John Paul II:
After the announcement, the newly-elected Holy Father appeared on the balcony and spoke briefly in Italian, instead of the immediately delivering his first Urbi et Orbi blessing:
“Praised be Jesus Christ! Dear brothers and sisters, we are still all very saddened by the death of the very dear Pope John Paul I. And now the most eminent cardinals have called a new bishop of Rome. They called him from a far-away country...far, but always near in the communion of faith and the Christian tradition. I was afraid in receiving this nomination, but I did it in the spirit of obedience to Our Lord and with total trust in his Mother, the Most Holy Madonna. I don't know if I can express myself well in your – in our – Italian language. But if I make a mistake, you will correct me. And so I introduce myself to you all, to confess our common faith, our hope, our trust in the Mother of Christ and of the Church, and also to begin again on this path of history and of the Church with the help of God and with that of men.”
9. Be Not Afraid!
Later that night, Pope John Paul II ate dinner with the cardinals before retiring to handwrite the homily with his famous words, “Be not afraid. Open wide the doors to Christ.”
10. Memories from one of the cardinal-electors:
In a 2011 interview with Richard Allen Greene of CNN
given the year before his death, 89-year old Cardinal Luis Aponte Martínez (1922-2012), one of only five cardinal-electors from the 1978 conclave who was still alive, shared his memories of the election.
The Archbishop-Emeritus of San Juan, Puerto Rico recalled Wojtyla’s election as the most emotional moment of his life:
"We came to congratulate him, but when (Polish) Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski came to pay his respects, the pope stood up and went to him and embraced him. That for us was a terrific moment. We all cried.”
On electing a Polish pope, Cardinal Aponte noted:
"The electors were taking a chance, but they made a wonderful choice. He had suffered a good deal, he had been a prisoner of the Communists.” Aponte added that it helped his cause "that he came from a suffering country."
Cardinal Luis Aponte Martínez congratulates Pope John Paul II after his election on October 16, 1978
(Photo: Cardinal Aponte Collection)
October 15, 2015 02:18
By Patti Murphy Dohn
Today is the 88th birthday of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI:
Born in Marktl am Inn, Bavaria, Germany, on April 16, 1927, on my Grandmother’s sixth birthday, the former Joseph Ratzinger was elected to the papacy on April 19, 2005 after the death of Pope John Paul II. Then 78 years old, the new Pope Benedict XVI became the oldest pope to serve the Church in 300 years.
Waving from the balcony of St Peter's Basilica after being elected in April 2005 (EPA Photo)
Where were you…?
Where were you when you heard that news on February 11, 2013 that Pope Benedict XVI, at age 85, had announced that he would step down from the papacy citing a "lack of strength of mind and body due to advanced age” seventeen days later on February 28?
He shocked the world with this monumental announcement, making him the first pope to step down from his pontificate since Pope Gregory XII in 1415.
Announcing his resignation during a consistory with Vatican cardinals on February 11, 2013 (AP Photo)
“After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God,
I have come to the certainty that my strengths due to an advanced age
are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry.
“I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature,
must be carried out not only by words and deeds but no less with prayer and suffering.
“However, in today's world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions
of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the barque of St. Peter and proclaim the Gospel,
both strength of mind and body are necessary-
strengths which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me
to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me.”
--Pope Benedict XVI on February 11, 2013
Pope Benedict XVI walks with his cane following his final general audience on Feb. 27, 2013.
(Photo: L’Osservatore Romano/CNS)
Above: The final tweet of Pope Benedict XVI as @Pontifex: February 27, 2013
Pope Benedict left the Vatican on February 28, 2013 by Italian air force helicopter, circling Rome during the sunset hour while bells rang out from St. Peter’s Basilica and from every church in the region.
He would spend the next three months at the papal summer residence at Castel Gandolfo until the renovations were completed at his new home in the Vatican Gardens at the Mater Ecclesiae monastery.
"I am a simple pilgrim who begins the last stage of his pilgrimage on this earth.
"With all my heart, with all my love, with my prayers, with my reflection, with all my interior strength, I still want to work for the common good and the good of the church and humanity.”
--Pope Benedict XVI to those gathered outside Castel Gandolfo on February 28, 2013
Glimpses into the retired life of the Holy Father Emeritus:
So what has Pope Benedict been doing since his retirement?
He has kept a low profile with a quiet schedule during the past two years.
Here are some of the highlights:
First meeting of two living popes in modern times:
Just days after his election, Pope Francis traveled by helicopter from the Vatican for this private first meeting with the former pontiff on March 23, 2013 at the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo. During the visit, they prayed together and had lunch. Pope Francis gave his retired predecessor a gift, an icon of Mary and Jesus that the Russian Orthodox delegation to the inauguration had given him the previous week:
“They told me this was Our Lady of Humility. If I may say, I thought of you.
You gave us so many examples of humility and tenderness.”
(CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters)
Pope Francis welcomes Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI back to the Vatican
after two months at the papal summer residence at Castel Gandolfo;
(Photo: Reuters/L'Osservatore Romano)
Pope Francis visited the Holy Father Emeritus at his new home, the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery on May 2, 2013.
(CNS/L'Ossevatore Romano via Reuters)
Living with Pope Benedict at the monastery will be his secretary, Archbishop Georg Ganswein, who also serves as prefect of the papal household to Pope Francis, along with four staff, all consecrated laywomen from Memores Domini. His home includes a chapel, library for his large book collection, and a guest room for his brother, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger of their native Germany.
The music room with piano is especially important to Pope Benedict, an accomplished pianist, who plays daily. His favorite composer is said to be Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
“His music is by no means just entertainment; it contains the whole tragedy of human existence.”
—Pope Benedict XVI on Mozart
Besides piano practice, the Holy Father Emeritus is said to spend his time in prayer, reading and study, in informal private meetings with friends and associates, and keeping up with the daily news from the L’Osservatore Romano and the evening news broadcast.
A private concert was held on January 14, 2014 for the occasion of the 90th birthday of the brother of the Holy Father Emeritus, Msgr. George Ratzinger, the former music director of the Regensburger Domspatzen, the Boys’ Choir of the Cathedral in Regensburg.
“...the honor of a lifetime…”
Lauren Green, who serves as Fox News Channel's chief religion correspondent based in New York and has a degree in piano performance from the University of Minnesota, was the classical music pianist.
“To be asked to perform for the pope seemed like Divine intervention alone. But other things happened that convinced me God’s hand was in it, guiding my path.”
Read how Lauren Green knew it was “a God thing” in “It was a God thing -- adventures in faith on the way to concert for Pope Benedict, his brother.”
Attending the Consistory in Saint Peter's Basilica on February 22, 2014 for the creation of 19 new cardinals:
Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI, age 86, embraced Pope Francis before the start of the consistory where these new members were elevated to the College of Cardinals.
Sister Gisela Upunto Msuya, a Dominican nun from Same in East Timor, who studies at the Pontifical University of St Thomas Aquinas (the Angelicum) and lives in Rome, visited the Holy Father Emeritus on July 25, 2014. (Photo: Facebook)
In his third public appearance since retirement, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI joined Pope Francis on September 28, 2014 for a celebration for grandparents and the elderly in St. Peter’s Square. (Photo: Reuters)
“He is discreet, humble, he doesn’t want to get in the way... It feels like having grandpa at home, because of his wisdom.
It does me good to listen to him. And it also encourages me a great deal.”
--Pope Francis said of his predecessor, noting that elderly persons transmit 'wisdom and faith, the most precious inheritance.’
Archbishop Georg Gangwein serves as the secretary to the retired Holy Father.
Selfies with the Pope Emeritus:
This photo of the Holy Father Emeritus, at age 87, with seminarian Giuseppe Ricciardi
who hails from the southern Italian diocese of Aversa was posted on Twitter:
"Ecco il primo #selfie in assoluto del #Papa Emerito #BenedettoXVI, in compagnia di Giuseppe Ricciardi di Aversa." pic.twitter.com/ejZFJcXjnW
— Gianluca Barile (@GianlucaBarile1) on September 11, 2014
"Here is the first #selfie ever of #Papa Emeritus #BenedettoXVI, in the company of Giuseppe Ricciardi of Aversa."
Shortly thereafter, Gianluca Barile (@GianlucaBarile1) tweeted a second selfie of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, this time standing with Italian priest Fr. Sebastiano Sequino.
"Non c'è uno senza due! Ecco il secondo selfie di oggi di #Papa #BenedettoXVI, stavolta con Don Sebastiano Sequino." pic.twitter.com/lYEc66vseZ
— Gianluca Barile (@GianlucaBarile1) September 11, 2014
“There’s two, not just one!
This is the second selfie from today of Pope Benedict XVI, this time with Father Sebastiano Sequino”
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI exchanging the Sign of Peace with cardinals during the Beatification Mass for Blessed Pope Paul VI. This liturgy was celebrated by Pope Francis in St. Peter's Square on October 19, 2014.
(Photo: CNS/Paul Haring)
Archbishop of Panama Jose Domingo Ulloa, with Bishop David Bishop, Monsignor José Luis Lacunza, and women from their delegation meet with Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI on November 19, 2014 at the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery.
This year's Epiphany/ birthday visit for the brothers:
Msgr. Georg Ratzinger flew from Munich to Rome on December 29, 2014 to visit with his brother, the Holy Father Emeritus, until January 16. They would celebrate Msgr. Ratzinger's birthday, now the 91st, there again at the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery.
This year’s celebration included another concert, with music by Il Trio Böhm, held in the same room at Vatican Radio as the 90th birthday concert the previous year.
The chamber musicians were Michela Berti paying flute, Claudio Cavallaro on the clarinet, and Daniele Veroli playing the horn.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI again attended the consistory held this year on February 14, 2015 for the creation of 20 new cardinals
The Archbishop of Lviv Mieczysław Mokrzycki, took his brother bishops to meet Benedict at the Lourdes Grotto in the Vatican Gardens on February 21, 2015 while on their ad limina visit to Rome. The Archbishop served as second secretary to St. John Paul II and also to Pope Benedict XVI until he was appointed Archbishop of Lviv in western Ukraine. Pope Benedict ordained him to the bishopric in St. Peter's Basilica and now invited the Archbishop to lunch at the monastery and expressed a wish to meet his brother bishops.
For his 88th birthday, Pope Benedict XVI will once again enjoy the company of his brother, Msgr. Ratzinger, for a ten-day visit.
The Holy Father celebrated his 81st birthday at the White House with President and Mrs. Bush on April 16, 2008 during his pastoral trip to the United States.
Ad multos annos!!
April 16, 2015 04:31
By Patti Murphy Dohn
Happy Easter and many blessings from Rome!!
The sound of people making their way to St. Peter's Square outside our hotel windows at the Palazzo Cardinal Cesi just after 6 a.m. "encouraged" us to skip breakfast and head out earlier than we had planned. We approached the piazza only to discover that the quickly-growing queues were not allowed to enter until 8 a.m. Hurry up and wait, right? That's exactly what we did for over an hour.
I had to keep looking up at the basilica dome and the statues of the apostles in an attempt to not think about the enormous number of people crowding in around us. When security finally started letting people in at 7:55, there was an enormous crush with the massive crowds trying to get into single opening metal detectors from every possible direction. It was overwhelming to say the least.
Once through, we worked our way to the reserved area where our early start gained us chairs on the center aisle. We were not as close as during the Wednesday audience, but we were indeed lucky to get seats at all, considering the enormous crowds on this bright and sunny Easter morning.
There were people of all ages and races, speaking so many different languages, many carrying banners and flags. There were nuns in religious habits of all styles, and priests and seminarians in cassocks and religious robes from many different orders among the crowds.
The liturgical practice with Msgr. Guido Marini for those participating that morning began at 8:30. The choirs also started warming up.
During the three hours that we waited in queues and at our seats for the 10:15 Mass, I could see people in every corner and from every angle of St. Peter's Square. It was truly a representation of the Universal Church. Fox News later estimated the crowds to number 150,000, but my friends who work at the Vatican said that it could have easily been over 250,000. (Next Sunday's numbers for the canonizations of Popes John Paul II and John XXIII could be well over one million in attendance.)
The rosary and processions of the Swiss Guard:
Around 9:45, greetings for Easter were extended over the speakers throughout the piazza, with an invitation to join in the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary in Latin. Perhaps you could not see this on EWTN's live broadcast, but midway through the second mystery, music was heard in the distance growing louder and louder. After the next Ave Maria, the rosary stopped completely as we could see the Swiss Guard marching in formation in full ceremonial attire, led by their corps of musicians into the piazza from the Santa Anna Gate. It was spectacular for those able to see and hear.
After they took their places to the left side facing the altar, the recitation of the rosary resumed. But wait... more music was soon heard and more Swiss Guards marching in formation processed through St. Peter's Square to the right side facing the altar. It was magnificent!!
The rosary was never finished, as the cues on timing must have gotten mixed, and Mass was about to start. Those near the front definitely had a treat in witnessing this twice-annual solemn procession of the Swiss Guard, done only on Christmas and Easter.
Pope Francis on the steps before the altar at the beginning of Mass.
A "small world" story:
Ironically, my husband and I were seated at Mass next to two teens from another high school named for my school's patron, Archbishop John Carroll. It was not until Holy Communion when I saw and greeted a young man wearing a "Bishop Carroll High School" jacket, that one of the young men next to us told me they were part of that Canadian school's band, and were traveling and performing in various Italian towns.
Popemobile ride through the piazza:
After Mass, the Holy Father hopped on the Popemobile for a fast loop around St. Peter's Square. They were being very time-conscious since he had to be up on the high balcony over the basilica for the 12 noon Urbi et Orbi ("To the city and to the world") message and blessing which was broadcast across the globe.
I went to the back of the seated area, facing the standing-only sections, to get this photo which really shows the huge crowds spread throughout St. Peter's Square. Notice that Pope Francis is riding in a completely open jeep, even the front windshield is down flat.
From the front of my section facing the altar area and basilica.
Pope Francis looked so tiny when he came out onto the balcony over St. Peter's Basilica for the Urbi et Orbi message and blessing. It put into better perspective how truly massive is this largest church in the world. I also realized how it must have looked when he was presented to the crowds gathered there after his election last March.
We are heading back to Maryland on Easter Monday after 12 amazing days in Italy. I so enjoyed sharing the daily "Buon giorno, Italia" journal and photos from the first week with my students.
During the days that followed, my husband and I extended for five extra days near the Vatican after they departed. We kept busy with special tours, Vatican events, good food and wine, and some once-in-my-lifetime opportunities. I have lots of photos and great stories to share with you after the jet lag wears off.
Arriverderci, Roma!! We loved every minute!!
April 21, 2014 03:51
By Patti Murphy Dohn