Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord from the Sistine Chapel: Pope Celebrates Ad Orientem

It was reported in December that Msgr. Guido Marini confirmed that the Pope would again celebrate ad orientem for the Mass of the Baptism of the Lord in the Sistine Chapel.

Last year, the NLM reported upon this story and brought you images such as these:

This year the NLM is pleased to again bring you live images from this Mass as the event unfolds. Even though this is not the first time the Pope has done this, it seems nonetheless important to document this continuing papal witness to the applicability of ad orientem in the life of the Church today and the theological meaning behind it. With regard to the latter, let us recollect Msgr. Marini's words about this: "at some points the Pope will turn towards the Crucified, thus underlining the correct orientation of the Eucharistic celebration. This is not about turning the back to the people, but about assuming the same orientation as the assembly, which precisely looks toward the Crucified."

It is to be hoped that other bishops and priests will likewise feel emboldened to follow the example of the Pope, not only as regards "the Benedictine arrangement" but also with regard to ad orientem liturgicum -- turning toward the liturgical East.

Let us now turn our focus to today's Mass.

The Procession

The Veneration of the Altar

The readings were done in Italian -- not unexpected for this smaller, more local type of Mass -- by a mixture of laity and clerics. Here the deacon prepares to proclaim the Gospel, which was chanted in Italian.

The Pope prepares for the Homily. This shows also very nicely the arrangement of sanctuary. The frontal upon the altar is spectacular and incorporates the papal tiara and keys.

The Baptisms. The rite of baptism itself is being performed -- again, not unexpectedly -- in Italian while a Latin polyphonic arrangement is being sung.

While much of what we have seen so far is familiar from last year, one thing that we did not see last year's time at this occasion was the reception of communion kneeling and upon the tongue.

Our final image for the live coverage of this Mass shows the final blessing and also gives you a view of the papal throne which has an image of the barque of Peter upon it, with the symbol of the Holy Spirit above.


Here are some higher quality photographs from Press photographers:

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