Valentine Special

Twenty Cardinals were created in the second consistory of Pope Francis earlier today, on this red Saturday, feast of St. Valentine, the bishop-martyr whose skull is enshrined in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin. As happened last time, Pope emeritus Benedict accepted the Pontiff's invitation to be present in the rite, to the joy of the cardinals and everyone present.

Each new cardinal, except eastern-rite Patriarchs, is assigned a church in the Diocese of Rome as his titular (in case of Cardinal-Priests) or diaconal (in case of Cardinal-Deacons) church. Historically, cardinals were clergy of Rome in charge of certain churches. Even though nowadays the title is mostly symbolic, a newly created cardinal picks a day for his installation in the church.

I have been to more than 300 churches in Rome and taking pictures of them. This enables to create his poster. I hope you will enjoy it.

Titular and Diaconal Churches of the Cardinals Created in the Consistory of 2015

Prior to the consistory, there were 5 cardinal titles and 12 deaconries that were vacant. There were 17 Cardinal-Priests and 3 Cardinal-Deacons that were created today. In the past, when there were insufficient vacant titular churches, deaconries could become titles temporarily to be assigned to new cardinals. However, with the ever-growing size of the College of Cardinals (due to younger cardinals and the limit of 120 only applying to cardinals less than 80 years of age), more and more Roman churches have been promoted to cardinal titles.

Two cardinal titles were created in 2007, one was created in 2010 and in 2012, and three were created in the last consistory in 2014. Today, 13 cardinal titles were created in the consistory, breaking previous records easily. This is also because fewer bishops from the Roman Curia or diplomatic services and no theologians are created by Pope Francis. The title of San Marco is left vacant in reservation for the Patriarch of Venice, who will very likely be elevated to the cardinalate next time.


Titulo vacante

With the Apostolic See filled with the new Supreme Pontiff, the title of S. Roberto Bellarmino is now vacant. I paid a visit to the titular church formally occupied by Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio this morning.

The church was dedicated to the Jesuit cardinal, saint, and Doctor of the Church, St. Robert Bellarmine, who is similar in many ways to our present pope. The coat-of-arms was never hung on the façade of the church, and so nothing needs to go down. Given the circumstances, I am sure that the parish church will have a commemorative plaque for her former cardinal priest.

I also revisited the Church of Santa Maria Vergine Addolorata a Piazza Buenos Aires (St. Mary the Sorrowful Virgin at the Buenos Aires Square), the Argentine national church in Rome.

The beautiful church features a replica of the statue of Our Lady of Lujan, the patroness of Argentina. The original 16th-century statue of the Virgin of Luján is featured in the National Basilica of Our Lady of Lujan, 60 km away from the capital and metropolitan see of Buenos Aires, the proud archdiocese once governed by Pope Francis.

Pontifex Franciscus

What an experience at St. Peter's Square yesterday. After more than 10 hours standing under an umbrella, white smoke came out, joy erupted and the rain stopped. I will let the pictures tell my story.

Rain has been pouring on and off all day in Rome.
Habemus avem! The first seagull appeared at 4:30 pm, and the second one (or is it the same one?) came at 5:40 pm and stayed on top of the chimney for 40 minutes, seemingly aiding the cardinal-electors underneath with the wisdom of the Holy Spirit.
The crowd has filled up St. Peter's Square before 7.
Near 7 pm, I knew things would turn well. Given that there are no infirmaries, if no pope was elected in the 4th and 5th ballots, smoke would come out at 6:45 pm. And voilà. White smoke came out at 7:06 pm!
Unlike 8 years ago, the bells of St. Peter's Basilica began to ring right away.
The Swiss Guards and the Vatican Gendarmes came out in formation in their best dresses.
The Cardinal Protodeacon proclaimed "Habemus Papam": Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum; habemus Papam: Eminentissimum ac Reverendissimum Dominum, Dominum Georgium Marium Sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae Cardinalem Bergoglio qui sibi nomen imposuit Franciscum.
No one around me knew who the new pope is. I had to explain to everyone about the Argentinean cardinal!
There he comes out! Pope Francis!
I am glad I bought a 1000mm-lens camera just for this occasion! The pictures are priceless!
Pope Francis began to address the Roman people in Italian.
Msgr. Guido Marini prepares to put on the stole on Pope Francis.
Learning from the mistake of his predecessor 8 years ago, Msgr. Guido Marini balanced the stole for the Pontiff before he gave his apostolic benediction. (Too bad Pope Francis refused to wear a mozetta.) I was glad to receive a plenary indulgence.
He continued to address the crowd in Spanish.
What a night! I am sure people slept well last night knowing that the Church is in good hands!


Habemus fumum negrum

Eight years ago, I was at the front row at St. Peter's Square whenever smoke came out from the world's most famous chimney. No exception tonight.

Crowds did not fill in until 5:30 pm. By six, the whole square was totally full.

Thanks to the cardinals that they voted tonight, as the ballot is optional. As expected, black smoke came out at 7:42 pm. (The picture is possible thanks to a camera that I decided to buy for use in this occasion only.)

I have been in the Vatican City State over 9 hours today. It looks like it will be another 10 hours for me there tomorrow. So long for the night, except for those of you who will have to wake up in the middle of the night to watch the holy smoke because of different time zones.


Pontifex Petrus?

The Prophecy of the Popes is an alleged private revelation given to St. Malachy, archbishop of Armagh, Ireland, in the 1130s. It consists of 112 mottoes that are supposed to represent the popes from his time. The prophecy has never been approved by the Church, nor has it been officially condemned.

People connect the mottoes to each of the popes using their birthplace, pre-papal offices, etc., although some connections are weak. Here are the recent popes and their alleged connections to the mottoes:

103 Ignis ardens (Burning fire) - Pius X, who is known for his great zeal for souls
104 Religio depopulata (Religion destroyed) - Benedict XV, who reigned during World War I and the Russian Revolution
105 Fides intrpida (Intrepid faith) - Pius XI, who stood up against Benito Mussolini
106 Pastor angelicus (Angelic shepherd) - Pius XII, who was heroic in his efforts against the Holocaust
107 Pastor et nauta (Shepherd and sailor) - John XXIII, who was Patriarch of Venice, the city of water
108 Flos florum (Flower of flowers) - Paul VI, who used fleurs-de-lis in his coat-of-arms
109 De medietate lunae (Of the half moon) - John Paul I, who was elected pope on a day with a half moon
110 De labore solis (From the labour of the sun) - John Paul II, who was born on a day with solar eclipse
111 Gloria olivae (Glory of the olive) - Benedict XVI, who has been successful in peace and reconciliation with other religions, such as Catholic Traditionalists, Anglicans, Orthodox, Jews and Muslims

The most worrying aspect of the prophecy is that after "Glory of the olive", the prophecy hints at the last pope of the world:

112 Petrus Romanus (Peter the Roman), who will nourish the sheep in many tribulations; when they are finished, the city of seven hills will be destroyed, and the dreadful judge will judge his people . The end.

The city of seven hills is of course referring to Rome, and the events seem to be referring to the Apocalypse.

Any cardinal can be considered as a Roman as they each have a titular church in Rome. If the next pope chooses the papal name "Peter II", that would be a very unwise choice and seen as fulfilling the prophecy. But if  the new Pontiff hs "Peter" in his original name, panic will be caused, adding weight to the authenticity of the prophecy. Here is a list of the cardinal-electors who has Peter in their first or middle name:
The first two are considered papabile by many sources, and so the next pope is quite possible to have the name Peter. One name can be crossed out from this list: Cardinal-Patriarch Raï. He will not be elected pope, because the pope is not only the head of the universal Church but also head of the Latin-rite Church. It is inconceivable to have an Eastern-rite patriarch to become the Bishop of Rome.

Whether or not the prophecy was a forgery from the 15th century, we don't have to fear. If it is authentic, there are interpretations of the prophecy that show that there can be unlisted popes between the "Glory of the Olives" and "Peter the Roman" because of the sentence structure. So no reason to panic in any case.

In the conclave in the next few days, I wonder if any of the cardinals above is discouraged from being elected to papacy just because of his name and the alleged prophecy.