Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Another Barometer of the Benedictine Reform

I recently received a communique from a reader living in Rome enclosing photos of St. Peter's Basilica on its stational day this Lent, last Saturday. When I studied in Rome a few years ago, a vast heap of reliquaries--spiky obelisk-pyramids, caskets, sunburst-like bouquets, miniature monstrances, stood piled on the high altar for this particular occasion, packed tightly together as if the Heavenly City was Lower Manhattan. The general effect had a certain dragon's-hoard charm to it. The customary candlesticks--which I recall even then usually stood on the altar, but only when not in use--were conspicuous by their absence on that occasion, perhaps to maximize reliquary display space.

This year, however, the display was more restrained, orderly and traditional, with the reliquaries spaced out between and before the customary big six candlesticks so recently returned to the altar by Monsignor Marini. I would be very surprised if this was a mere coincidence.

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