Between science and faith, a mystery that is still the subject of dispute

Discovering the Holy Shroud on its journey from Chambéry to Turin

What is the Shroud?
It is a linen cloth that is 442 cm long and 113 cm wide and kept in the northern Italian city of Turin. On the light yellow ochre cloth there are visible imprints of an image – front and back – of a human figure. There are also numerous other marks caused by wear and tear.

When did people first come to know about the Shroud?
Around 1350. People came to know about the Shroud in 1353 when it entered into the possession of French nobleman Geoffroi de Charny, Lord of Lirey. In 1453 the Shroud was given to Louis I, second Duke of Savoy, who kept it in Chambéry.
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Pope’s Morning Homily: We Are a Church of Martyrs

Remembers Egyptian, Ethiopian Martyrs in Libya During Mass at Casa Santa Marta

“Today, the Church is a Church of Martyrs: they suffer, they give their lives and we receive a blessing from God for their witness.”

These were the words of Pope Francis during his morning homily at Casa Santa Marta today. According to Vatican Radio, the Pope reflected on today’s first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, which recounts the martyrdom of St. Stephen.

“As they were stoning Stephen, he called out, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit,'” the reading states.

The Pope commented on the reaction of those who stoned Stephen, which upon hearing the martyr “confess his vision of Jesus”, covered their ears and promptly killed him.
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Pope’s Address to Delegation from the Conference of European Rabbis

“Today, in Europe, it is more important than ever to emphasise the spiritual and religious dimension of human life.”

Here is the Vatican-provided translation of the Holy Father’s address to the Conference of the European Rabbis.

* * *

Dear Friends,

I welcome you, members of the delegation of the Conference of European Rabbis, to the Vatican. I am especially pleased to do so, as this is the first visit by your Organization to Rome to meet with the Successor of Peter. I greet your President, Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, and I thank him for his kind words.

I wish to express my sincere condolences for the death last evening of Rabbi Elio Toaff, former Chief Rabbi of Rome. I am united in prayer with Chief Rabbi Riccardo Di Segni – who would have been here with us – and with the entire Jewish Community in Rome. We gratefully remember this man of peace and dialogue who received Pope John Paul II during his historic visit to the Great Synagogue of Rome.
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By vassallomalta Posted in News

The Popes and the Holy Shroud

The long and silent prayers of the Popes of recent times

When Peter venerates the Shroud. In 1506 the Franciscan Julius II, Michelangelo and Raphael’s patron approved the Shroud as a public cult as well as the liturgy for a proper Mass and divine office. In the modern era, the mission of the Popes crosses paths with the sheet which is said to have been wrapped around Jesus’ body in the tomb after he was removed from the cross.

“They are the pictures of the Divine Son of Mary; they come, in fact, from that object known as the Shroud of Turin; still mysterious, but certainly not the work of any human hand. It may be said to have been demonstrated that it is the Holy Shroud of Turin,” Pius XI said. His successor Eugenio Pacelli also venerated the Shroud: “Turin, city of the Most Holy Sacrament, guards as a precious treasure the Holy Shroud, which displays, both to move and comfort us, the Image of the lifeless body and the tortured Face of Christ.”
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Pope’s Morning Homily: Follow the Examples of Saints to Avoid Temptation of Worldliness

Reflects on Danger of Material Interests During Homily at Casa Santa Marta

In his homily at Casa Santa Marta this morning, Pope Francis said that Christians are called to follow the example of the saints and martyrs, who did not give in to the temptation of seeking power.

According to Vatican Radio, the Holy Father reflected on today’s Gospel of St. John, in which a crowd seeks Jesus “not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled.”
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Pope to honour Junípero Serra, Apostle of California

Pope Francis is to visit a Roman college – the Pontifical North American College, where US priests are formed – for the first time

It isn’t the Argentinian College or the Latin American Pius College. The first Roman collegeto erceive a visit fromt he Pope will be the Pontifical North American College situated on the Janiculum Hill, just a short distance away from the Vatican. Francis will be there on Saturday 2 May to celebrate a mass in honour of Junípero Serra, Apostle and founder of California. The gesture comes ahead of the Pope’s trip to the US, where he will proclaim the adventurous friar a saint of the Church.

“Brother Junípero Serra: Apostle of California, testimony of holiness” is the title of the Day of Reflection that will be hosted by the North American College on 2 May. The aim of this event is to help spread awareness of Serra’s life, mission and testimony, as well as encourage devotion to him.
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By vassallomalta Posted in News

Pope Leads Faithful in Prayer For Victims of Sunken Migrant Boat

700 Feared Dead After Fishing Boat Capsizes Near Libyan Coast

Following his Regina Coeli address, Pope Francis lead thousands in praying the Hail Mary for those who died after a fishing boat carrying an estimated 700 migrants capsized off the Libyan coast.

Although Italian border police have rescued about 50 people, an estimated 700 people are feared dead in what may be the worst disaster in the Mediterranean. So far, rescue workers have recovered only 24 bodies.

“I express my deepest sorrow in the face of such a tragedy and I assure for those lost and their families my remembrance in prayer,” the Pope said.
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Regina Coeli: On Being Witnesses to the Risen Christ

“The witness is one who has seen, who remembers and who recounts.”

Here is the translation of Pope Francis’ address before and after the recitation of the Regina Coeli to the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

In the biblical readings of today’s liturgy, the word “witness” resounds twice. The first time is on the lips of Peter: he, after the healing of the paralytic at the door of the temple of Jerusalem, exclaims: “The author of life you put to death, but God raised him from the dead; of this we are witnesses” (Acts 3:15). The second time is on the lips of Jesus Risen: He, on the evening of Passover opens the minds of the disciples to the mystery of His death and resurrection and says to them: “You are witnesses of these things” (Lk. 24:48). The Apostles, who saw with their own eyes the Risen Christ, could not keep silent about their extraordinary experience. He had revealed himself to them so that the truth of his resurrection could reach everyone through their witness. And the Church has the duty to prolong this mission, every baptized person is called to give witness, with their words and with their lives, that Jesus is risen, that He is alive and present among us. We all are called to give witness that Jesus is alive! We can ask ourselves: who is the witness? The witness is one who has seen, who remembers and who recounts. To see, to remember and to tell are the three verbs that describes the identity and mission.
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By vassallomalta Posted in Angelus

The Holy Shroud: A chiaroscuro of faith and a symbol of the suffering of man in 2015


Those who will be attending the 2015 Ostension are well aware of the fact that the image they will have before them for just a few brief instants is the subject of much controversy and discussion. But this is not going to stop hundreds of thousands of people from considering the journey to Turin worthwhile

“Let us therefore allow ourselves to be reached by this look, which is directed not to our eyes but to our heart. In silence, let us listen to what he has to say to us from beyond death itself. By means of the Holy Shroud, the unique and supreme Word of God comes to us: Love made man, incarnate in our history; the merciful love of God who has taken upon himself all the evil of the world to free us from its power. These words, which Pope Francis pronounced on the occasion of the television exposition of the Shroud in 2013, are a key to understanding what is shortly going to be experienced in Turin in the coming weeks. As was the case during previous Ostensions, a constant flow of pilgrims will be filing past the linen sheet which depicts the figure of a tortured, whipped and crucified man, matching exactly the Gospels’ description of what happened to Jesus of Nazareth.
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Papal visit to US: Francis is considering a stop in Cuba

The possibility of a visit to Havana at the end of the Pope’s trip to US cities – Philadelphia, Washington and New York – is being looked into

Seventeen years after John Paul II’s historic visit to the island in January 1998 and Benedict XVI’s in March 2012, which was just as important, another Pope may be about to step foot on Cuban soil – the first South American Pope in the history of the Catholic Church. The Vatican is looking into the possibility of prolonging the Pope’s visit to the US next September, by one or two days in order to allow him to make a quick stop-over in Havana. After a decades-long “cold war”, the Caribbean island of Cuba is re-establishing diplomatic ties with Washington, partly thanks to Vatican mediation.

The news was revealed by American sources and was re-printed by the Wall Street Journal. Today, the director of the Holy See press office, Fr. Federico Lombardi, stated: “The Holy Father has taken into consideration the idea of carrying out a leg to Cuba on the occasion of his upcoming visit to the United States. However, contact with the authorities of the country is too much at an early stage to speak of this stop as a decision taken and of a project in operation.”
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Terminally Ill Seminarian Ordained; Gets Phone Call From Pope

Francis Asked to Receive His 1st Priestly Blessing

His story has moved Italy. After having received a phone call of encouragement from Pope Francis, 38-year-old Salvatore Mellone, at the end of his life due to an incurable illness, received priestly ordination yesterday afternoon in his own room at Barletta.

Don Mellone’s name jumped to a place of honor two days ago in the newspapers, when the news was published of the Pope’s telephone call. Francis said to him: “The first blessing you give, you will impart to me.” The Archdiocese of Trani-Barletta-Bisceglie and the Pontifical Seminary of Molfetta, where the new priest was formed, subsequently confirmed the conversation between the Pontiff and the sick seminarian.

Journalist, writer and poet, Salvatore Mellone has always worked in the Catholic ambit and, before entering the Seminary, he worked for a year at the Institute of the Marcelline Sisters of Bolzano.
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3rd Sunday of Easter

Reading I: Acts 3:13-15, 17-19
Responsorial Psalm 4:2, 4, 7-8, 9
Reading II: 1 John 2:1-5a
Gospel: Luke 24:35-48

… and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins,
would be preached in his name
to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. (Gospel)

Biblical Metanoia

“Repent and believe in the good news!” These are the first words out of Jesus’ mouth in Mark’s gospel and they are meant as a summary of the entire gospel. But what do these words mean?
In English, the word “repent” is often misunderstood. It seems to imply that we have already done something wrong, regret it, and now commit ourselves to live in a new way. Repentance, understood in this way, means to live beyond a sinful past. Biblically, this is not quite what is meant. In the gospels, the particular word used for repentance is metanoia. Literally this means to do an about face, to turn around, to face in an entirely new direction. But what direction?

Robert Barron, a young theologian out of Chicago, offers a simple, yet profound, understanding this. In his view, within each of us there are two souls, a little soul (a pusilla anima) and a great soul (a magna anima). On any given day we tend to identify more with one or the other of these and we are a very different person depending upon which soul is reigning within us.

Thus, if I take my identity from my little soul I will inevitably feel bitter and angry. It is here, in the pusilla anima, where I am petty, afraid, aware of my hurts, and constantly nursing the sense of having been cheated and short-changed. In my little soul, I am paranoid and defensive. When I relate to life through it, I am short-sighted, impatient, despairing, and constantly looking for compensation.

But I also have within me a great soul. When I let it reign, I become different person altogether. I am relating out of my great soul at those moments when I am overwhelmed by compassion, when everyone is brother or sister to me, when I want to give of myself without concern of cost, when I am able to carry the tensions of life without a breakdown in my chastity, when I would willingly die for others, and when my arms and my heart would want nothing other than to embrace the whole world and everyone in it.

All of us, I am sure, have had ample experience of both, identifying with the great soul and with the petty soul within us. Sometimes we operate out of one, sometimes out of the other.
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Leader of Council of Cardinals Sums Up Pontificate: Mercy, Joy and the Poor

Cardinal Rodríguez Maradiaga Considers 2-Plus Years With Pope Francis

The archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduas, and president of Caritas Internationalis, Cardinal Oscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga, is one of Pope Francis’ main collaborators. Since April of 2013, he has coordinated the Council of Cardinals that advises the Holy Father on the reform of the Roman Curia and the government of the universal Church.

In this interview the Cardinal asserts that after two years of work of the Council of Cardinals, “the balance is quite positive.”

He notes the Pope’s affirmation: “All institutions can be reformed, but if persons aren’t reformed it leads nowhere.”

In this connection, he explains that “the Curia isn’t a court” and that there cannot be “careerism in the Church.” Therefore, one of the keys of the reform underway is “how the institutions of the Curia can serve better, serve more flexibly.”
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Pope’s Morning Homily: Humiliation Isn’t a Masochism, But an Imitation of Christ

Calls on Faithful to Not Give Into Wrath During Mass at Casa Santa Marta

Humiliation is not masochism, but rather a path of imitating Jesus in His Suffering. These are the words of Pope Francis during his homily today at Casa Santa Marta.

According to Vatican Radio, the Pope began his homily reflecting on the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, in which a Pharisee by the name of Gamaliel who called on the members of the Sanhedrin to allow the Apostles to preach.

“For if this endeavor or this activity is of human origin, it will destroy itself. But if it comes from God, you will not be able to destroy them; you may even find yourselves fighting against God,” Gamaliel says.

The Holy Father explained that Gamaliel’s action of giving “time to time” is the correct way of acting instead of hatred.
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Pakistan: Boy Burnt Alive for Being Christian Has Died

Dominican Priest Asks Government, ‘Where is Justice?’

The 14-year-old Pakistani Christian burnt alive by a group of unknown young Muslims has died.

According to Fides, Nauman Masih passed away Wednesday morning in the hospital in Lahore.

The young boy had been attacked by young Muslim strangers on their way to a mosque. They poured petrol on him and set him on fire, suffering severe burns on more than half of his body.

Masih did not know the people who attacked him. The police were alerted and registered a complaint against unknown persons.
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Vatican ends controversial three-year oversight of US sisters’ leaders

The Vatican’s three-year oversight programme has come to an end, with Sartain and the LCWR officers presenting a joint report on the implementation of the mandate, which the doctrinal congregation have approved

A controversial three-year program of Vatican oversight of the main leadership group of U.S. Catholic sisters has come to a curt and unexpected end, with the sisters and the church’s doctrinal office announcing that the goal of the oversight “has been accomplished.”

The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has accepted a final report of the doctrinal assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, “marking the conclusion” of the oversight, the Vatican announced Thursday.

The lengthy process saw the Vatican issue what the sisters called unsubstantiated sharp critiques of their work and life while appointing Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain to oversee a program of reform for LCWR. Thursday’s news release says the Vatican and the sisters both noted the “spirit of cooperation” of the ordeal.
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Pope’s Morning Homily: Be Open to God’s Voice

Says Those Who Won’t Dialogue, Disobey God During Mass at Casa Santa Marta

If you are not willing to have dialogue, you are disobeying God, says Pope Francis.

During this morning’s homily at his daily Mass at Casa Santa Marta, the Pope made this statement and warned against those who preach against the newness of God. The Holy Father offered today’s Mass for Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who celebrates his 88th birthday.

Reflecting on the theme of dialoguing, the Pontiff said, “Obeying God means having the courage to change paths.”

The Pope recalled the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, recounting the priests and leaders who ordered that Jesus’ disciples stop preaching the Gospel to the people.
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Historic cathedral returned to Russian Orthodox Church

The Russian government has returned Smolny Convent and Cathedral to the Russian Orthodox Church, according to a report from AsiaNews.

The convent, whose centerpiece is the cathedral, is located in St. Petersburg and was built for the daughter of Peter the Great as she entered religious life. Construction of the cathedral was completed in 1764.
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Catholic share of world population increases; sisters and seminarians decline

A new edition of the Vatican statistical yearbook has been published, offering a statistical glimpse of the Church as of December 31, 2013.

Between 2005 and 2013, the number of Catholics increased by over 12%, from 1.115 billion to 1.254 billion, at a rate that outstripped world population growth. 17.7% of the world’s people are now Catholic– up from 17.3% in 2005. Much of the growth took place in Africa, whose Catholic population soared by 34% over the eight-year period and now stands at 206 million.

Worldwide, at the end of 2013, there were 5,173 bishops, 415,348 priests (up from 405,178 in 2000), over 43,000 permanent deacons, over 55,000 male religious who are not priests, 693,575 sisters, and 118,251 seminarians.

The number of priests has increased 0.3% since 2012, 2.2% since 2005, and 2.5% since 2000. Between 2005 and 2013, the number of priests rose 29.2% in Africa and 22.8% in Asia but fell 7.1% in Europe.
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Pope’s visit to Latin America from 6 to 12 July is official

The Holy See press office has confirmed dates and countries: Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay

The Pope will be in Latin America from 6 to 12 July. Fr. Federico Lombardi has issued a statement confirming that the Pope has accepted the invitation of respective heads of State and bishops to visit Ecuador from 6 to 8 July, Bolivia from 8 to 10 July and Paraguay from 10 to 12 July. The Pope had announced the trip in person, during his visit to Sri Lanka and the Philippines last January. Fr. Federico Lombardi said this in his statement.

“Welcoming the invitation of the respective heads of state and bishops, His Holiness Pope Francis will make an Apostolic Visit in Ecuador July 6-8, 2015, in Bolivia, July 8-10, and Paraguay, July 10-12. The schedule will be published soon.”
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