Cardinal Seán's Blog

Cardinal Seán O’Malley shares his reflections and experiences

The Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul

Hello and welcome!

Regular readers will remember that, as I concluded my last post, I was in Rome for a meeting of the Council of Cardinals, and it was the eve of the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, the patronal feast of the city.

Before I move on to the events of this week, I want to share with you some of the things that took place in Rome around that feast. It is very a very grand celebration, which also happens to coincide with my birthday. (So, I always tell people the fireworks in Rome are in honor of my birthday — but nobody believes me!)

For the feast, there is a wonderful tradition in Rome of decorating the streets in front of St. Peter’s Basilica with images made of flowers and colored sawdust.IMG_0702IMG_0704IMG_0705IMG_0706IMG_0707IMG_0708IMG_0712

I also want to share with you this photo of the statue of St. Peter, which has been venerated for many centuries, but on the Feast of St. Peter is dressed in papal vestments. I always find it very impressive.IMG_0691

Another wonderful tradition for the feast of St. Peter is that the new archbishops that have been named during the course of the year gather in Rome to receive the pallium from the Holy Father. POPE-PALLIUM

The pallium is a white band with black crosses worn around the shoulders and is the symbol of an archbishop. It represents the lamb that the Good Shepherd carries on his shoulders, and the black part of the bottom is the hoof of the lamb. Pallium-GTracy-IMG_0099

Here you see my pallium on the left

It is created from the wool of lambs raised by Trappist monks and is placed near the tomb of St. Peter before it is presented to the archbishop by the Holy Father. POPE-PALLIUM

There were about 30 archbishops from around the world who received the pallium this year. A couple of them were Capuchin confrères whom I knew and there were two from the United States — Archbishop Byrnes from Guam and Archbishop Wilton Gregory from Washington, D.C. POPE-PALLIUM

So, the American Embassy to the Holy See had a lovely reception for the Americans in Rome in honor of the new archbishops.

It was held at the Ambassador’s residence, known as the Villa Richardson.IMG_0690IMG_0688

unnamed1With Ambassador Calista Gingrich and her husband, Newt

With us for the Pallium Mass was Orthodox Archbishop Job of Telmessos, who was heading the delegation representing Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople. Archbishop Job is the Patriarchate’s representative to the World Council of Churches at Geneva and is a good friend of Metropolitan Methodios of Boston.IMG_0694

It has been the tradition, for many years now, that the Ecumenical Patriarch sends representatives for the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul and the Holy Father does the same for the Feast of St. Andrew, the patronal feast of Constantinople, in November.

Mirroring this tradition, here in Boston we also exchange delegations between the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Boston and the archdiocese on the feasts of St. Peter and St. Andrew. So, that same day in Boston, we were very happy to welcome Father Demetrios Tonias, the dean of Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral for the Mass at the Pastoral Center celebrated by Bishop Arthur Kennedy.StPeter-Orthodox-04StPeter-Orthodox-05StPeter-Orthodox-09StPeter-Orthodox-19

As I mentioned, the feast coincides with my birthday. So, that afternoon, I had lunch with the Capuchin community in Rome, where there were four of us who were celebrating either birthdays or name days.IMG_0696

I also had a meeting with the Holy Father at which I presented him my letter of resignation, which is the custom for residential bishops when they reach the age of 75. The Holy Father did not accept it but instead asked me to stay on for a few more years in Boston. As long as my health is good, I am very happy to serve in any way that I can.

Then, that evening, I had dinner with the Boston priests who are in Rome.IMG_0700

I returned from Rome a few days before Independence Day, and I spent some time away around the holiday.

Then, last Sunday, I went to St. Benedict’s in Somerville, to celebrate a Mass as part of the parish’s weeklong celebration of their patronal feast. IMG_0729

They also had another cake for me in honor of my birthday. (I think that was the end of the novena of cakes I seem to have been celebrating!)IMG_0730IMG_0731

It was good to be back at St. Benedict’s again and see that Father Alejandro Lopez-Cardinale is doing such a great job as administrator.

Then on Tuesday, I was visited by Archbishop Anthony Obinna of the Archdiocese of Owerri, Nigeria, who was accompanied by three of his priests who are here in Boston. IMG_0735-2

He was in town to celebrate Mass for the Nigerian community at St. Katharine Drexel Parish and wanted to greet me. So, I was very happy to be able to receive him.

Until next week,

Cardinal Seán