I'm sure Cardinal O'Malley never thought it would come to this.
At 4:30 p.m. this afternoon, just a day after he became a cardinal, he found himself standing in a lovely Roman courtyard, surrounded by serious journalists from Boston, showing off a ring.
The ring, of course, was the news of the day -- this was the day the 15 new cardinals were given gold bands by Pope Benedict XVI to symbolize their bond with the papacy.
And, seeking to keep you informed, dear readers, we insisted on seeing the goods.
O'Malley clearly thought the scene was a bit ridiculous, but, in keeping with his new openness, he cheerfullly held it out, up, took it off, put it on, explained its history, its imagery, how it felt, how it fit, and so on.
Turns out that these rings are sort of designed by the pope, in the sense that the pope gets to choose the image on the outside, which in this case is a modern depiction of the crucifixion of Jesus, with Mary and John at his sides. The ring also includes the papal seal on the inside.
O'Malley said he was not asked his ring size in advance, but that the ring was open in the back, and could be resized at home. That was a bit of a relief, he said, recalling the time he took off a bishops' ring during Mass to wash his hands, gave it to a seminarian, and the seminarian decided to see what it felt like to wear a bishop's ring, and the ring got stuck on the seminarian's finger!
Anyways, here's the detail, thanks to photographer David Ryan:
The setting for the ring-showing, by the way, was the leafy courtyard of the Casa Santa Maria, a residence in Rome for about 70 American priests studying here. O'Malley, in the most remarkable display yet of the degree to which he has been persuaded that he has to improve his relations with the news media, hosted a reception for Boston-based journalists, with tea sandwiches and drinks and, for every reporter, a rosary.
The cardinal fielded questions for a bit about the ring, and then stayed for about an hour, just chatting informally with reporters about the events of the week, Rome, Boston, and so on. He was funny and charming and seemed reasonably at ease; I even had a conversation with him about Dan Brown, but I have to save something for you for tomorrow, now don't I?
By the way, as you can sort of see in the first photo, the habit is back. O'Malley, having already had enough of the red robes, showed up in his brown hooded Capuchin habit, with knotted white rope belt, dangling rosary, sandals and dark socks. Aside from the ring, the only sign of his new status was atop his head, where he wore the scarlet zucchetto of a prince of the church.
Globe photographer David Ryan got some nice shots of this morning's Mass of the Rings
Here is one of Cardinal O'Malley, up front, and Pope Benedict XVI, in the back, processing through St. Peter's Square at the start of the Mass. The guy with the plume is a Swiss Guard.
And here's a shot, from the roof of the colonnade, that shows rows of bishops, in purple, cardinals, in red, the new cardinals, in white, and then, on the throne at the facade of the basilica, the pope.
Pope Benedict at prayer
and Pope Benedict giving Communion to Cardinal O'Malley's sister, Mary Alexsovich
I've integrated other photos David shot throughout the items below, so even if you've already read them, you might want to scan again for pictures.
Terry Donilon, the cardinal's spokesman, just e-mailed me the schedule of Cardinal O'Malley's first Masses upon his return to Boston. They're to be held around the region to give the cardinal a chance to greet people from different areas of the archdiocese (which covers 144 towns in Eastern Massachusetts); O'Malley says he will talk a bit about his experiences here in Rome in an effort to share it with people who couldn't be here. O'Malley is not much for parties, but the archdiocese is planning a "light reception" after each Mass.
Here's the schedule:
Saturday, April 1
St. Theresa of Avila, West Roxbury
Sunday, April 9 (Palm Sunday)
St. Catherine of Siena, Norwood
Sunday, April 16 (Easter Sunday)
St. Mary of the Assumption, Lawrence
12 noon - Spanish language Mass
Atop the Bernini colonnade this a.m., I ran into the Rev. Robert Reed, the director of Boston Catholic Television, which has been providing heavy coverage of the week's events.
Reed told me that there are about 20 Boston priests in town for the consistory, and a group of them went out last night in Trastevere to talk about how things are going in Boston and the church. He said they had an animated discussion, felt cheered by the positive energy being communicated by Cardinal O'Malley, and rued not having more talks among priests back in the diocese.
"It seems like maybe finally we're going to get our act together,'' he said. "Things have been hard, but the archbishop seems very upbeat, and things are really looking up here.''
Reed and I tried to come up with a list of local priests we've seen in town; we couldn't come up with a complete roster, but here's a partial tally: the Rev. Brian Bachand, who is the cardinal's secretary; Rev. David J. Barnes, pastor of St. Mary Star of the Sea in Beverly; Auxiliary Bishop John P. Boles, Rev. Robert E. Casey, the pastor of Gate of Heaven in South Boston; Rev. John J. Connolly, rector of the Cathedral of the Holy Cross; Rev. James R. Flavin, pastor of St. Edith Stein in Brockton; Monsignor William M. Helmick, pastor of St. Theresa of Avila in West Roxbury, and his brother, Rev. Raymond Helmick, a professor of theology at Boston College; Rev. Daniel Hennessey, vocations director; Rev. Brian Kiely, pastor of St. Patrick in Natick; Rev. Jason Makos, who is studying here at the North American College; Rev. Michael Medas, of the deaf apostolate; Rev. Paul B. O'Brien, pastor of St. Patrick in Lawrence; Rev. Kevin J. O'Leary, pastor of St. Peter in Cambridge; Rev. Robert Reed, director of Boston Catholic Television; Rev. John J. Ronaghan, pastor of St. Ann in Wollaston; and Monsignor Dennis F. Sheehan, pastor of St. Paul in Cambridge.
And for the original documents and pictures
Of all the things that strike me as remarkable about Masses in St. Peter's Square, and there are many, the first is the incredibly efficient choreography for the distribution of Communion. At the key moment, dozens, hundreds, or thousands of priests (no sign of a shortage here...) emerge from the side of the basilica and head out into the piazza. The worshipers are seated in blocks, set apart from one another by white curtains, and the priests, obviously following some elaborate plan, move quietly down and through the piazza, and on occasion up onto the rooftops, to distribute the consecrated wafers to each part of the crowd. From the roof, where I sit, you can see all these guys in white moving through the crowd, somehow managing to reach everyone in a relatively modest period of time. It's impressive, simply as an organizational feat.
The Mass has now ended; it lasted about two hours, and organ music is ringing across the piazza as the cardinals, bishops, and dignitaries head into St. Peter's and the crowd heads into the streets of Rome. I'm told that the pope will now host a lunch for all the cardinals at the entrance to the Audience Hall, which is in Vatican City sort of across a street from the basilica.
I expect next to see Cardinal O'Malley, and to check out the ring, this afternoon, when he's holding a reception for the news media. More later.
Good morning, insomniacs. I'm blogging to you, once again, from the roof of the Bernini colonnade that encircles St. Peter's Square. Today, on the Catholic calendar, is the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, and just below me Pope Benedict XVI is saying the Mass of the Rings, which is being concelebrated by the 15 new cardinals, including Archbishop O'Malley of Boston.
Today dawned sunny, at last (this is the first day I've had to wear a hat since I've been here), but it is now clouding over again. There are some tens of thousands of people in the piazza, considerably more than yesterday, many of them groups of well-wishers from the dioceses whose bishops became cardinals yesterday. Some are holding congratulatory banners aloft.
Most of the cardinals here are dressed in their familiar red robes, but the new cardinals are in white and gold vestments because they are saying the Mass with the pope. They were seated in two special rows of chairs, just below and on either side of the pope. Right now they are standing around the altar, consecrating the Eucharist, with the pope, in Latin.
A few minutes ago, each new cardinal, one at a time, approached the pope, who was seated in a white throne under a tapestry at the base of the facade of St. Peter's Basilica. As they knelt before him, he gave them each a cardinals' ring, which is supposed to be "the sign of dignity, pastoral care, and the most solid communion with the See of Peter,'' according to the Vatican. At the end, they bowed together toward the pope.
about articles of faithReligion News blog, Michael Paulson discusses religious news in Boston and beyond.
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