October, 2017

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Pope Francis at Angelus: on being Christian in the world

Pope Francis prayed the Angelus with pilgrims and tourists gathered in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday.

Addressing them ahead of the traditional prayer of Marian devotion, Pope Francis shared a reflection on the Reading from the Sunday Gospel, which this week came from St. Matthew and contains the maxim, “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and render unto God what is God’s.”

Pope Francis explained that the episode teaches us both the legitimacy of earthly authority and the primacy of God in human affairs and over all the universe.

“The Christian is called to be concretely committed in human and social realities,” said Pope Francis, “without putting God and ‘Caesar’ in contraposition.” He said that counterposing God and Caesar would be, “a fundamentalist attitude.”

“The Christian,” Pope Francis continued, “is called upon to engage concretely in earthly realities, but enlightening them with the light that comes from God. Entrusting oneself to God in the first, and placing one’s hope in Him, do not require us to escape from reality, but rather to work diligently to render unto Him, all that it His. That is why the believer looks to future reality, to that of God: that he might live his earthly life in fullness, and respond with courage to its challenges.”

Lakes around Rome – a few tips!

Lago Albano.

This volcanic crater lake presents visitors with beautiful views of its clear water and surrounding forests. The picturesque towns along the shores serve as popular summer resort areas for Romans, including Castel Gandolfo, home to the summer papal palace whose gardens were recently opened to the public. On the other side of the lake is Palazzolo, a villa bought by Rome’s Venerable English College in 1920 and now open to guests. The towns surrounding the lake are known for their restaurants, shops and fruit farms. Swimming, fishing and boating are among the favourite activities for visitors, and the lake’s beach is located on the western shore. A simple 45-minute train ride from Termini, visitors can reach Lago Albano by taking the FL4 train towards Albano Laziale and getting off at the Castel Gandolfo stop.

Lago di Bolsena

Located on the site of the Vulsini volcano, dormant since about 100 BC, this crater lake has two islands and is surrounded by rolling hills and vegetation. The area around Montefisascone on the southeast shore of the lake is famous for its Est! Est!! Est!!! wine. The town of Bolsena in the northeast is a popular tourist resort in summer and it is here that the famous so-called Eucharistic Miracle took place in 1263 when a Bohemian priest is said to have seen blood coming from the host that he had just consecrated at Mass. Capodimonte on the southwest of the lake is also worth a visit . The lakeside area provides activities for sports and nature enthusiasts all year round. The best way to reach Lago di Bolsena from Rome is by car, as buses to Bolsena from Termini Station are infrequent.

Lago di Bracciano

One of the cleanest lakes in Italy, Lago di Bracciano acts as an important drinking water reservoir for Rome. The ban on motor boats (except for a little ferry) means it remains an ideal spot for swimming, sailing and canoeing. The Lega Navale operates a dinghy sailing school in Anguillara. Churches and historic sites are located in the three small towns around the lake: Bracciano, Trevignano and Anguillara. There are also places for camping and horse riding tours by the lake, which is just an hour on the Viterbo train line from Rome’s Ostiense station. The lake is overlooked by the 15th-century Orsini-Odescalchi castle in Bracciano, often chosen as the venue for jet-set weddings, and there is also an air force museum at nearby Vigna di Valle.

The Secret Tunnel Under The Vatican

The Vatican is the world’s smallest state both by area and population, coming in at under only 110 acres with a population of 1000 people. Despite that, its small stature is nothing to laugh at – the Vatican is filled to the brim with historical buildings, monuments, and other architectural works of art. From Saint Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel, to the Vatican Library or the Vatican Museums, the small nation is rich in building design. However, most don’t know about one of the Vatican’s best-kept secrets that is hidden in plain site, a secret tunnel named the Passetto di Borgo.

At first glance, the Passetto di Borgo, Italian for “small passage,” looks like nothing more than a simple stone fortification much like other walls in the Vatican. However, within its walls lies a secret hidden passageway used by popes in the past as an emergency escape route when they faced imminent danger. The Passetto runs a total of 2600 feet along the Old Vatican wall and links the Vatican Palace to the Castel Sant’Angelo. Construction of the Passetto wall began around the year 850, but it wasn’t completed until the year 1277 under Pope Nicholas III. In 1492, Pope Alexander VI finished the wall in its current form as seen today.

The first time it was used as an escape route was just two years after its construction in 1494, when King Charles VIII invaded Vatican City with French forces. Pope Alexander VI used it to escape to the Castel Sant’Angelo.

The most recent usage of the passage was during the Sack of Rome on May 6th, 1527. The mutinous forces of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V massacred nearly the entire Swiss Guard on the steps of Saint Peter’s Basilica, however they were able to hold off just long enough for Pope Clement VII to escape using the Passetto. It is said that during Clement VII’s passage, he wept looking down at the gruesome scene in Saint Peter’s Square. He was so distraught that a fellow cardinal had to help him walk through the narrow corridor. Fearing that a rifleman may recognize the pontiff through the narrow windows, Clement VII was covered in a cloak flung over his head and shoulders to disguise him as he was smuggled into the castle.

Since the escape of Pope Clement VII, no pontiff has used it since. Around the end of the 16th century, the Passetto within the wall was closed to the public because of its declining conditions. During the Great Jubilee of 2000, the Passetto was renovated for the occasion. Since then, it has opened during the summer for a limited amount of time for tourists to walk down the same passageway used by popes hundreds of years ago.

Giuseppe Arcimboldo exhibition at Rome’s Palazzo Barberini.

Palazzo Barberini devotes an exhibition to Giuseppe Arcimboldo

19 Oct-11 Feb. Palazzo Barberini presents an exhibition of more than 70 works by Giuseppe Arcimboldo (1526-1593), an Italian painter best known for creating imaginative portrait heads made entirely of objects such as fruit, vegetables, flowers, fish and books.

Address: Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica a Palazzo Barberini, Via delle Quattro Fontane 13.

Pope to focus on “fake news” in message for World Communications Day 2018‎

Pope Francis will focus on the harmful effects of fake news against journalism for peace, in his message for peace for World Communications Day next year. ““The truth will set you free” (Jn 8:32). Fake news and journalism for peace,” is the theme of the annual Catholic Church observance that the Pope announced with a post on Twitter (@Pontifex) on Friday.

World Communications Day, the only worldwide celebration called for by the Second Vatican ‎Council ‎‎(“Inter Mirifica”, 1963), is marked in most countries, on the recommendation of the bishops of ‎the ‎world, on the Sunday before Pentecost, which in 2018 will fall on May 13. In some countries, the day is marked as the solemnity of Ascension.

The announcement of the ‎theme is traditionally made on Sept. 29, the feast of the Archangels Michael, ‎Raphael and Gabriel, with ‎Gabriel being designated the patron saint of telecommunications.

The Holy ‎Father’s message for World ‎Communications Day is traditionally published in conjunction with January ‎‎24, feast of St. Francis de ‎Sales, patron of journalists, to allow bishops’ conferences, diocesan offices and ‎communications ‎organizations sufficient time to prepare audiovisual and other materials for national ‎and local ‎celebrations. ‎ ‎

The first World Communications Day was observed on May 7, 1967, under the pontificate of Blessed Pope Paul VI, who wanted to draw attention to the communications media and the enormous power they have for cultural transformation. Next year’s observance will be the 52nd edition.

Commenting on the theme of next year’s World Communications Day, the Vatican’s Secretariat for Communication said that false information contributes to creating and fueling strong polarization of opinions. This often consists in distortion of facts, with possible “repercussions on individual ‎and collective behaviours.” In a situation in which social media groups, institutions and the political world are reacting to this phenomenon, the Secretariat said, “the Church would like make its contribution by proposing a ‎reflection on the causes, logic and consequences of misinformation in the media and helping to promote ‎professional journalism, always seeking the truth, and thus a journalism of peace that promotes ‎understanding among people.‎”