Sunday, March 22, 2009

Restoration of the Cappella Paolina

Via Catholic News Service comes the story of the restoration of the Cappella Paolina in the Apostolic Palace: Papal prayer space: Restored Pauline Chapel ready for inauguration.

(A historical photo of Cappella)

One section was of particular interest:
...the Vatican has announced that the rearrangement of the liturgical space carried out under Pope Paul VI after the Second Vatican Council will be almost completely reversed, restoring most of the furnishings to their original place...

There was one slight caveat to this:
...Antonio Paolucci, director of the Vatican Museums, said that while the chapel's original marble altar will be returned it will not be put flush against the wall, so that Mass can still be celebrated "both 'versus populum' (toward the people) as well as 'versus crucem' (toward the cross)."

This should hardly come as a surprise of course, particularly given the Pope's strong pastoral consideration in these regards. However, what strikes me as particularly interesting is that, not so long ago versus populum might simply have been presumed; accordingly, that ad orientem (or "versus crucem" as it is referred to here) is also spoken to perhaps gives some witness to it having begun to enter more into the forefront of Catholic liturgical consciousness again -- perhaps a fruit of the Pope's activities and catecheses.

CNS reports that Pope Benedict XVI will inaugurate the restored chapel on the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, June 29th.

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