Cardinal Seán's Blog

Cardinal Seán O’Malley shares his reflections and experiences

Day: September 24, 2006

Covering Rome By Foot & Celebrating Mass At The Chiesa Nuova Church

Good evening. I hope you had restful weekend.

I did a bit of walking around Rome today.


Making our way through the crowds after leaving the Vatican.


Moments after leaving St. Peter’s Square, I met some very nice people from Hartford, CT.


Crossing the Fiume Tevere. You can see Castel San Angelo and the Bridge of Angels in the background.


This Angel towered over the other end of the bridge.

One of the things that I often do when I come to Rome is to say mass at the Chiesa Nuova, which is the church of the Fathers of the Oratory of Saint Philip Neri, located in the Corso Vittorio Emanuele II. By foot, its located approximately 15-20 minutes away from the Vatican. This little church is more formally called Saint Mary in Vallicella. I understand that it may have actually been built by Pope St. Gregory the Great.

Saint Philips church is called Chiesa Nuova, which means the new church. Its dedicated to Our Lady and St. Gregory the Great.

I visited the church this morning with the hope of saying mass at 11:00, but there was a mass just about to begin when we arrived, so I scheduled a time to say mass this evening at 6:15. We check with their schedule so that we are not bumping into their public masses.

I mentioned the Priest of the Oratory community….it was established by Saint Philip Neri. Cardinal John Henry Newman – you may have seen his name recently in the media because of the Boston tie to a Cardinal Newman miracle currently being investigated – used to stay here in Rome at the church where I said mass. Theres the connection to Boston with Chiesa Nuovawith the possible miracle and investigation that may lead to his beatification, leading to his canonization. From what I understand this Cardinal Newman process is moving ahead and people are coming this Fall to conduct interviews in Boston about his case. The whole process, as you could imagine, is kept confidential by Vatican officialsgiven the sensetivity of the matter, you can certainly understand that.

Ive always liked the church and Saint Philip Neri is an extraordinary saint. Among other things he was known for his great sense of humor. So I think thats a positive human quality of the saints. He was very close to the first Capuchins, particularly Saint Felix. The Capuchins were located very close-by the Chiesa Nuova. Saint Felix is buried at the Bone Church, which I walked by today, but it was closed. Saint Felix and Saint Philip were very good friends.

Fr. Brian and I said Mass earlier this evening in the Chiesa Nuovas Saint Philips Chapel.


Walking to the entrance of the St. Philip’s Chapel.


Saying Mass.


The Chapels construction was completed in 1602 and the body of Saint Philip was laid to rest beneath the altar in a crystal casket that same year.

Saint Philip’s casket is just to my left.

Above the altar is a mosaic depicting Saint Philip. It was created by artist Guido Reni. Above the mosaic, there is a dove, which represents the Holy Spirit. The walls inside the chapel depict the miracles preformed by the Saint.



We vested in the Sacrestia prior to saying the mass.



At the far end of the Sacrestia, there is a famous statue of Saint Philip, a work of Alessandro Algardi.


Another view of the statue at the end of the Sacrestia.


Mass open to all at Chiesa Nuova.

Better views of the “High Altar” of Chiesa Nuova.



The ceiling of Saint Philips Chapel in Chiesa Nuova.


The Ges.

I also walked to the Ges. I like to visit the Jesuit church when I come to Rome, because of Saint Ignatiusand the fact that hes buried there.and its such a beautiful church. Id like to share with you much more about the Ges and my visit there today, the Jesuits and Saint, I will share some of those thoughts with you in one of my upcoming blog entries in the next couple of days.


I also passed by the Major Penitentiary. An American Cardinal, Cardinal Francis Stafford, works in that office, which is an ecclesiastical tribunal and deals with dispensations, indulgenceswhat we call questions of internal forum. Cardinal Stafford was the Archbishop of Denver previously.


We passed by the Church of the Stigmata.


You can see from the picture above, that there are folded arms high above the church. What they arm is Christ and one arm is Saint Francis.both with the wounds. That was the idea – Saint Francis had the wounds of Christ, the stigmata. The one with the sleeve is Saint Francis with a habit, the other, the bare arm, is Christ on the Cross. That has become a symbol for the order since the time of Saint Bonaventure. In every Franciscan Bishops Coat of Arms, youll always find the crossed arms.

My Coat of Arms…notice the “folded arms.”


When we leave or enter the Vatican, we must pass through the security gates. As I passed through today, the Swiss Guard gave their customary salute.

But before going back to my room, I bought three newspapers….The ABC, a Madrid newspaper…The International Herald….and 30 Giorni, an Italian Catholic newspaper that is printed every 30 days.
Tomorrow I have a morning planning meeting for the Mass and ceremony next weekend at Santa Maria della Vittoria, Boston’s Titular Church.

Have a good night….until my next post…..

God Bless,

Cardinal Sen

September 2006