Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Pope in the USA: Some previews of what we might see [UPDATE]

An interesting couple of stories were sent into the NLM about the Pope's visit to the United States that perhaps gives us a little preview into what we might see in the coming days.


I have seen some of the vestments which will be used, they represent what has become the fairly "common vernacular" of vestments used within parishes in North America. This comes as little surprise and I won't belabour this point but what I did find of some interest in searching this out a bit was that in a March 17th interview given by the family company supplying many of the liturgical items for the visit, they noted that "the pope will have his own robes for his visit..."

Altar Arrangement

A second story coming from Catholic New York mentions preparations that are underway in St. Patrick's Cathedral.

In the course of that article, the following details are mentioned:

Cathedral artifacts will be used during the Mass celebrated by Pope Benedict. According to custom, the pope celebrates Mass with a crucifix facing him on the altar, and the crucifix to be used is from the cathedral's St. John the Evangelist altar.

Msgr. Ritchie said that Cardinal Egan has chosen a special chalice for the Mass, and a ceremonial cross will be used in the procession.

When a bishop celebrates Mass, six candles are lighted on the altar. There are seven candles when the celebrant is a pope, or a metropolitan—an archbishop, like Cardinal Egan, who heads the chief archdiocese of an ecclesiastical region. [See Note below - NLM] The seven candles on the altar for Pope Benedict are being donated by Patrick Baker and Sons, an ecclesiastical goods company in Southington, Conn. They are cream——colored and bear a commemorative inscription in gold with the pope's name and the date.

In short, in the Mass in the Cathedral of New York City, it appears as though we will see the central altar cross we have become accustomed to, as well as the seven candlesticks -- do note that when it is speaking above about what is "cream-coloured" and bears a commemorative inscription, it is referring to the candles themselves and not the candlesticks, which will presumably be from the cathedral itself of course.

Note: It is perhaps implied in what is said in the quote above that six candles are reserved for a bishop celebrating Mass, but of course this is not the case.

Further, the seventh candle may be used by any Ordinary of a diocese regardless of whether they be the Pope, an archbishop or a bishop. The key is that they are the Ordinary and not whether they are an archbishop or higher.

Finally, it's also worth noting that the custom of the crucifix facing the celebrant is not a papal custom, but is (or was at very least) much more universal than that.


One other note, thanks to a reader from France for pointing out, CNS is also noting that the Pope will use the pastoral staff we have been accustomed to seeing him use in his recent Masses.

In fact, Msgr. Guido Marini told CNS that this cross "is becoming the usual one for papal celebrations."

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