Saturday, January 14, 2006

For those wondering about the Papal throne...

[With the adoption of the present pope of some of the older garb such as the mozetta and camauro, some were wondering if the Pope would be considering using the sedia gestatoria as well. What is clear from this audience is that this is not the Pope's intent. Don't be too disappointed though. I think like the tiara, while these are beautiful symbols of the spiritual power of the papacy, the Pope is aiming at a 1st Millenium style of papacy which may aid in Orthodox-Catholic relations. When I first saw the older style pallium he chose, I was quite excited for this very reason. It would be nice to see the Pope re-adopt the more traditional form of crozier though.]

Simpler Vatican ceremonies aid humility, Pope says

Jan. 13 ( - The simplified ceremonies of today's Vatican are more conducive to Christian humility than the pomp and splendor of past papal courts, Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news) told a group of papal aides at a January 13 audience.

The Pope held a private audience with the sediari pontifici, the laymen who traditionally carried the throne, or sedia gestatoria of the Roman Pontiff. Since the time of Pope John Paul I the sedia gestatoria has fallen from us, and today the 23 sediari pontifici have been assigned to new duties within the pontifical household.

"Yours is an ancient task which over the course of the centuries has evolved in different ways depending upon the customs and needs of the times," the Pope told them. He recalled that after Vatican II, papal ceremonies were simplified, "bringing them back to a greater sobriety more in keeping with the Christian message and the needs of the times."

The sediari pontifici trace their lineage of service to the Roman Pontiff back to the 6th century, and membership in the group has been passed down, from fathers to sons, for centuries. Pope Benedict thanked the members of the group for their "diligence, courtesy, and discretion" in their assigned duties.

Today the papal aides are responsible primarily for hospitality service in the apostolic palace, and the sediari pontifici carry the Pope only to his funeral, as pallbearers. During the last months of the life of Pope John Paul II (bio - news), members of the group also pushed the Pontiff on the rolling platform that he used during public audiences.

During the past week Pope Benedict has held private audiences with three different groups of employees working in the pontifical household; sedia gestatoria were the last such group to meet with the Holy Father.

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