POPE-POURRI: 'Light' news items, anecdotes about Pope Benedict now

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00Wednesday, December 23, 2009 7:19 AM

Beautiful pics, Papa B. I hope anybody planning to be at Papa's "midnight" Mass already has their ticket because it looks like a lot of folks will be stuck out in the cold.

Demand for papal Christmas Eve Mass tickets exceeds supply

Tuesday, 22 December 2009 16:00

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Tickets for Christmas Eve Mass with Pope Benedict XVI were in high demand and short supply this year.

There were not enough tickets available for all the people who wanted to attend the liturgy in St. Peter's Basilica, according to the Vatican.

"The demand for tickets far exceeds the number of places that will be available," said Christian Brother Christopher Kierans, who handles requests in English for the Prefecture of the Pontifical Household.

The basilica holds 7,000 people for Christmas Eve Mass, which this year begins at 10 p.m. Those without tickets were being invited to take outdoor seats in St. Peter's Square and follow the ceremony on two large video screens.

Although the total request for free tickets was not available, the Vatican stopped accepting written requests early in December. Some people living in Rome who have traditionally received tickets were informed by fax that they could not be accommodated this year.

Msgr. Roger C. Roensch, head of the bishops' office for U.S. visitors to Rome, said he had asked the Vatican for about 2,000 tickets for the Christmas Eve Mass. He eventually received only 1,700 tickets for distribution to the U.S. pilgrims, school groups and religious orders that had sent in written requests.

Msgr. Roensch was recommending that the nearly 300 people left without Christmas Eve Mass tickets attend Mass at St. Peter's Basilica on Christmas morning. Afterward, he said, they could attend the pope's message and blessing "urbi et orbi" (to the city of Rome and the world) in St. Peter's Square where tickets were not needed.

The Church of Santa Susanna, the parish for Americans in Rome, also had to stop accepting requests for tickets to the papal Christmas Eve Mass because the large demand made it impossible to guarantee fulfilling all the requests.

00Wednesday, January 13, 2010 5:49 PM


Parents of Newborn Reflect on the Vatican Tradition

By Carmen Elena Villa

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 11, 2010 (Zenit.org).- While the sacrament of baptism is a blessing in itself, the parents of a newborn who was baptized by Benedict XVI affirm that having a Pope administer the sacrament is a double blessing.

Luca Grilone and Samantha Barreca stated this to ZENIT after the baptism of their firstborn, Gabriel Maria Andrea Karol, Sunday morning in the Sistine Chapel. In total, 14 newborn babies received this first sacrament from the Pope, in a ceremony that is an annual tradition on the feast of the Baptism of the Lord.

The figures in Michelangelo's famous frescoes, as well as Pietro Perugino's and Pinturicchio's painting, "The Baptism of Christ," looked on as the group of families gathered to welcome the infants into the Church.

Those baptized were all children of Vatican employees. They were accompanied by their parents, godparents and a small number of relatives.

Crying and babbling could be heard during the ceremony, as well as questions by the older siblings of the babies.

The siblings were given the role of taking the offerings to the altar during the presentation of the gifts. As each child stepped forward, the Holy Father greeted him with a few words.

Sacred events

The event was "doubly sacred," Grilone said, "in the first place, because of the fact of baptism itself, and then because [Gabriel] was baptized by the Pope, exactly in the place where [the Pontiff] was elected."

Grilone had experienced this double blessing himself, as he received First Communion from Pope John Paul II in 1986.

Moreover, the Vatican employee once served as an acolyte in various Papal ceremonies. He recalled: "Seeing the altar servers reminded me that 20 years ago I was in their place. Now I am married and a father."

Grilone, who currently works in the Vatican Museums, married Samantha Barreca in July 2008. Their son, Gabriel, was born Dec. 1.

The new mother admitted to ZENIT that she was worried her infant would cry during the ceremony, but little Gabriel was silent during the two hours that it lasted.

"Perhaps he was praying," added the baby's father with a smile.

Barreca affirmed: "Our child has been purified of original sin. We hope that with our example we will be able to advance with him on the Christian journey he begins today."

She said that she hopes her son might one day become a priest: "Perhaps it's too early. I don't know if it's God's will. We must wait to see what path the child will follow. Then we'll see."

Papal closeness

The Rite of Baptism took place in the bronze font sculpted by Mario Toffetti. During the Mass, the newborn's parents received communion from Benedict XVI.

"When we received communion in front of the baptismal font, I couldn't contain myself," Barreca said. "I cried and laughed at the same time. I tried to hold back my tears."

She underlined the experience of being close to the Pope, stating, "I like the way he speaks, the way he expresses himself with little gestures."

The mother of the newly baptized continued: "Those who do not see him personally do not notice these little details.

"At the moment of baptism he seemed like a grandfather.

"Although he didn't know us he expressed much affection with his look. I will always carry this in my heart, my whole life."

The Eucharistic Celebration was concelebrated by Archbishop Beniamino Stella, president of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, and by Archbishop Félix del Blanco Prieto, the almoner of the Office of Papal Charities.

00Tuesday, February 9, 2010 6:00 PM

Getting Ready for the Trip to Malta

Many thanks to Simone for this link to the website of the Archdiocese of Malta, which contains important information for anyone planning to travel there for Papa's visit:


Below is the official logo of the visit, quite lovely I think.

And, here is a gorgeous wallpaper:

00Tuesday, February 23, 2010 6:41 PM
what do you think of that one, found on Teresa's thread :

Silence about the Pope's cats?
Translated from

February 18, 2010

The order was always clear: not a word about the Pope's cats. The organs of information of the Holy See, from L'Osservatore Romano to Vatican Radio (but even Avvenire knows it), have Draconian instructions. [But L'Espresso obviously does not feel bound by it - though it does not say why it has taken them them five years to 'uncover' this!]

It appears that many in the Vatican hierarchy do not want the Pope's known passion for cats to be exploited by animal rights propagandists claiming the pontifical seal of approval.

What must be kept secret is that the Pope has more than one cat in the papal apartments - some say five - but it should not be known.

When Benedict XVI was elected Pope, one of the many anecdotes circulated about him was that as a cardinal, he was known to bring along some food to give to stray cats he met during his daily walks in the neighborhood.

The best known anecdote is that once, a platoon of cats trailed him all the way to the Porta Angelica into the walled enclave of the Vatican, and the Swiss Guard had to keep them from coming in.

And of course, there is even a children's book about Chico, the amber cat [belonging to his neighbor] he considered a pet during his vacations in his Pentling house near Regensburg.

In short, the Pope is a true 'gattaro' [cat lover] as the Romans say. But that he has cats in the papal apartment must not be known, though it seems that during his few moments of relaxation, some fortunate feline often sleeps peacefully on his lap.

It's a very sweet story if it is true - and somehow, more believable than all the elaborate stories at the start that there were rules against keeping pets in the papal apartments. But if it was meant to be kept hush-hush, why is L'Espresso breaking the silence?

Of course, it also means the Pope's valet and his housekeepers must be extra-vigilant about brushing off his clothes of any cat's hair that could suddenly set off some allergic person from breaking into sneezes near him!]

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00Wednesday, February 24, 2010 9:19 AM
Papa's Five ?? Cats ...
I'd love to believe it ...  the anecdotes noted in the article we've heard before on the Forum.  But five? I would be so happy that he had his precious cats with him.  They would naturally be so loving with him and what could be better therapy?

But I don't know about this "draconian" instructions ...

00Wednesday, April 21, 2010 6:25 PM
From the pages of The Onion

Papal Infallibility Invoked To Allow Scrabble Word


The Onion promotes humorous captions to photos and funny stories that you think might even be true!  A little humor for the a.m. ...

00Wednesday, April 21, 2010 7:04 PM
I volunteer to play with him[SM=x40791]

who else ?????[SM=g27835]
00Wednesday, April 21, 2010 9:18 PM
Since we're all intellectually inferior to him, we should come up with a team effort to even have a tiny, little chance.

I'm prepared to take on the German part - difficult as it is... but I will gladly sacrifice myself... *ahem* [SM=g27828] [SM=g27829] [SM=g27819] [SM=g27816] [SM=g27830]

00Wednesday, April 21, 2010 10:55 PM
I'm not much use at Scrabble anyway, but with Papa sitting opposite me I can guarantee that what brains I have left would be SCRAMBLED!!!!! I would also sink slowly but surely to the floor.......... [SM=g27821] [SM=g27822] [SM=g27829] [SM=g27829] [SM=g27829] [SM=g27829]
00Tuesday, June 22, 2010 12:16 AM
I stink at scrabble. Papa would be spelling out long intellectual words like "Orthopraxy" & "Monotheistic" while I'll be spelling out "If" "Cat" "Be..." [SM=g27824] [SM=g27824]

I'd play Jeopardy! with him, and happily loose!!! [SM=x40798]

00Saturday, March 12, 2011 6:38 AM

Not solely for the pope: socks from papal tailor available online

By Sara Angle
Catholic News Service
March 11, 2011

ROME (CNS) -- Audrey Hepburn had Hubert Givenchy, Rita Hayworth had Jean Louis, Michelle Obama has Jason Wu and the pope has the Gammarellis.

From their little shop in Rome, the Gammarelli family has been outfitting popes, as well as cardinals, bishops and priests since 1798.

Now, "Mes Chaussettes Rouges" (My Red Socks), a Paris-based online retailer, is offering a tiny piece of Gammarelli style to the general public.

"I first saw the red socks in the early '90s on the French prime minister, Edouard Balladur, and thought it was very amusing, but I found out that the Gammarelli socks were only available in Rome," said Vincent Metzger, the proprietor of "Mes Chaussettes Rouges."

Metzger and a friend created the business initially by purchasing a bulk quantity of socks from Gammarelli and selling them to friends in the summer of 2009.

They saw a business opportunity, Metzger told Catholic News Service. "We went to Rome again and stayed there for three nights for negotiations, and we made a contract," he said.

Other than the Gammarelli shop behind the Pantheon in Rome, he said, "Mes Chaussettes Rouges" is the only licensed retailer of Gammarelli products.

He claimed the Gammarelli socks are now worn by French Prime Minister Francois Fillon, "which I think is very funny. He buys them on our website," Metzger said.

Gammarelli socks are "the best quality, because they are made with long fibered cotton, making them more solid." And because the seam is done by hand on the sides of the foot rather than machine sewn at the toe, Metzger said he thinks they are much more comfortable.

Gammarelli socks are designed as religious clothing, so they are available only in cardinal red, bishop purple and priest black. The pope wears white socks, but "Mes Chaussettes Rouges" only offers white upon special request.

"Mes Chaussettes Rouges" targets a particular kind of customer -- what they call "The Gammarelli Man" -- who, according to the website, is someone who possesses true virtue in all things and appreciates the little things in life.

00Monday, April 25, 2011 7:29 AM

A Strange Role for Papa

Late this evening after the family's Easter activities were over and everybody had gone home, I turned on Catholic TV to see if there might be an Easter show to watch. Lo and behold, a movie called "The Seven Last Words" came on. It was a strange mixture of narration by the late Princess Grace of Monaco (her last film before her death), a couple of operatic hymns, a brief reenactment of the crucifixion, and finally the recitation of a decade of the rosary by Fr. Patrick Peyton and "several Cardinals from the Roman Curia".

When the cardinals came on, one after the other reciting the Hail Mary in their native language, I almost shut off the show but then heard the familiar voice of our dear Papa praying in German. I don't know exactly when this film was made but Papa was definitely in his golden years. Later, I found the whole film at the site below. I don't know how long it will be showing there but Papa appears near the end and the wait is worth it to see his brief appearance. Enchoy.


00Wednesday, April 27, 2011 11:00 PM
Many thanks for posting this Benefan. It is quite special.
00Thursday, April 28, 2011 6:35 AM

Hi Crotchet!

I'm glad you liked the video of Papa. I thought it was a delightful surprise. He really looks like a pious little angel in it. I wish I knew how to lift some still photos of him from it. I'll bet benevolens could do that. [SM=g27823]

00Thursday, April 28, 2011 11:43 AM
Family Theater program
Thanks from me too for the post. It was also delightful to see the Pieta in all her beauty before that bullet proof glass had to be put up. I've always appreciated the size comparison of Mary to her Son - she is twice the size of Jesus, as if she were actually holding her dear little one once again.

Yes, it was wonderful to see Papa and hear his voice ...
00Thursday, April 28, 2011 6:24 PM
Thank you SO MUCH benefan!!!! What a discovery! Not only was the whole video very moving, but the best bit was at the end! Joseph Ratzinger's gentle voice praying the Hail Mary in German! It's made a lovely summation to what's been a very holy Easter for me.

Thank you!!!!!!
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00Friday, April 29, 2011 2:44 PM

Thank you

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Giselle 1
00Thursday, September 1, 2011 2:57 PM
Oh, thank you so much, that little film was very nice and our sweet Papa at the end with his tender voice and his beautiful and filigree white hands, very moving.

00Tuesday, November 8, 2011 2:46 AM


By Anne Kurian and Anita Bourdin

ROME, NOV. 4, 2011 (Zenit.org).- The birthplace of Benedict XVI's maternal grandmother and great grandmother is recognizing the Pope as an honorary citizen.

The Holy Father's maternal grandmother and great grandmother were born in Naz-Sciaves (Natz-Schabs, in German), in the Italian region of Alto Adige.

At next week's general audience, a delegation from Naz-Sciaves will arrive on pilgrimage in Rome to give the Pope the official certificate of honorary citizen.

The city of Naz-Sciaves, which has some 2,500 inhabitants, celebrated its new honorary citizen on Oct. 22. Bishop Ivo Muser of Bolzano and Bressanone presided at the blessing of a commemorative plaque on the "mas Toell" wall in the village of Rasa, where the Pope's grandmother and great grandmother were born. The diocesan bishop also presided over a Eucharistic celebration.

In 2010, when the Christmas tree from Luzon was installed in St. Peter's Square in Rome, the Holy Father told a group of pilgrims from Alto Adige that his grandmother and great grandmother were born in the village of Rasa.

Benedict XVI has been an honorary citizen of the city of Bressanone, which is situated five kilometers (3 miles) from the village of Rasa, since 2008. The city welcomed him during the summer vacation he spent in its seminary in August of that year.

The Pope's brother, Monsignor Georg Ratzinger, relates that their grandmother longed for her homeland until the end of her life. In his book "Mein Bruder, der Papst" (My Brother, the Pope), he says that their grandmother would say, "If a just had some water from my land, I would be cured."

"She was convinced that the water of Tyrol was very different from Bavarian water," he wrote. "She also thought that her small cabin full of Tyrolean hay was more nourishing for the livestock than a full cart of Bavarian hay. She was really a great Tyrolean patriot."

00Tuesday, December 18, 2012 10:10 PM

„Liebes Christkind!
Du schwebst bald auf die Erde hernieder. Du willst den Kindern Freude bereiten. Auch mir willst Du Freude bereiten. Ich wünsche mir den Volks-Schott, ein grünes Messkleid und ein Herz Jesu. Ich will immer brav sein.
Schönen Gruß von Joseph Ratzinger.“

00Thursday, December 20, 2012 6:50 AM

A Child's Note

Gabriella's post above quoted a note written by 7-year-old Joseph Ratzinger at Christmas time. It was found during the renovation of a house his family lived in when he was a child. The note was presented recently to the Pope who was very moved when he saw it. One of our forum members translated it into English:

"Dear Christ Child! You float down to Earth soon. You want to give pleasure to children. You want to give me pleasure. I wish for a missal, a green gown for Mass and a heart of Jesus symbol. I want to be always good. Greetings from Joseph Ratzinger."

How could he not become pope?

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