If you’re planning to get up early to watch the Mass of Inauguration for the Bishop of Rome’s Petrine Ministry for Pope Francis, you’ll want to be prepared to make the most of it.
The Mass begins at 9:30 a.m. Rome time (4:30 a.m. EDT). That’s plenty early enough, but if you want to see the pope circling the Piazza San Pietro in the popemobile before the Mass, you’ll have to set your alarm for even earlier. The pope is expected to come out around 8:45 or 8:50 a.m. Rome time (3:45 or 3:50 EDT). You can expect hundreds of thousands to attend the outdoor Mass for the first chance to see the pope in this setting. The whole square will be filled, as well as most of the Via della Conciliazione, all the way down to the river and Castel Sant’Angelo.
According to the Vatican Information Service (all times local, EDT in brackets) “Between 8:45 and 8:50am [3:45-3:50 am] the pope will depart the Domus Sanctae Marthae and start to move through the crowd in the various sections of the piazza – either in the Jeep or the Popemobile – and greet those gathered. He will return to the sacristy, via the Pietà side, around 9:15am [4:15 am]. Mass is planned to begin at 9:30am [4:30 am].
“Regarding the beginning of the ceremony, the pope, once having entered the Basilica, will head to the Confession (St. Peter’s tomb under the high altar) while trumpets will announce the ‘Tu es Petrus’ [‘You Are Peter’]. The Pope will venerate the tomb of St. Peter, together with the Patriarchs and Major Archbishops of the Eastern Rite Catholic Churches (10 in number, four of whom are cardinals). He will then be presented with the Pallium, Ring, and Book of the Gospels that were placed at St. Peter’s tomb the night before.
“The Holy Father will then come back up from the Confession to the main floor of the Basilica, from which the procession continues. The ‘Laudes Regiae’ (Christ is King) will be chanted, with some invocations taken from the Vatican II document on the Church, ‘Lumen Gentium.’ In the Litany of Saints are particularly to be noted, after the Apostles, the Holy Roman Pontiffs who have been canonized up to the most recent: St. Pius X. Fr. Lombardi clarified that these are only the pontiffs who have been named as saints, not those who have been beatified. The procession will then make its entrance into the square.”
Many news channels will carry the Mass live, as will EWTN. If your cable or satellite system does not provide a channel carrying the Mass, you can go directly to a live feed from the Centro Televisivo Vaticano at which you can select audio_eng (other other language) from the drop-down box at the lower right for an audio commentary in your preferred language. If that link doesn’t work for you, choose your download speed and format here.
It will be helpful to follow along with the Mass, which is expected to last about two hours (as you’re getting ready for work and/or getting the kids off to school). You can download the official Mass book produced by the Vatican to assist you with this.
Most of the Mass will be in Latin, but the book includes translations in English and Italian, which is very helpful.
VIS notes that before the Mass begins, there will be some specific rites to the beginning of the Petrine Ministry. This follows the practice begun recently by Benedict XVI in which rituals which are not strictly part of the Mass are done in a liturgical context but outside the Mass. The elevation of cardinals and the conferral of palliums on new archbishops are two such rites.
“The Imposition of the Pallium: Made of lamb’s wool and sheep’s wool, the Pallium is placed on the Pope’s shoulders recalling the Good Shepherd who carries the lost sheep on his shoulders. The Pope’s Pallium has five red crosses while the Metropolitans’ Palliums [such as that worn by Archbishop William E. Lori] have five black crosses. The one used by Francis is the same one that Benedict XVI used.
“The Fisherman’s Ring: Peter is the fisherman Apostle, called to be a ‘fisher of men.’ … It bears the image of St. Peter with the keys. It was designed by Enrico Manfrini. The ring was in the possession of Archbishop Macchi, Pope Paul VI’s personal secretary, and then Msgr. Malnati, who proposed it to Pope Francis through Cardinal Re. It is made of silver and gold.
“The ‘Obedience’: Six cardinals, two from each order [cardinal bishop, cardinal priest and cardinal deacon], among the first of those present approach the Pope to make an act of obedience. Note that all the cardinal electors already made an act of obedience in the Sistine Chapel at the end of the Conclave and that all the cardinals were able to meet the Pope in the following day’s audience in the Clementine Hall. Also, at the moment of ‘taking possession’ of the Cathedral of Rome – St. John Lateran – it is expected that the act of obedience will be made by representatives of the various members of the People of God.
In a news conference, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Press Office of the Holy See, noted that the Mass will be the one for the Solemnity of St. Joseph, which has its own readings (therefore they are not directly related to the rite of the Inauguration of the Pontificate). The Gospel will be proclaimed in Greek, as at the highest solemnities, to show that the universal Church is made up of the great traditions of the East and the West. “Latin,” Fr. Lombardi said, “is already abundantly present in the other prayers and Mass parts.”
“The Pope will give his homily in Italian and, as is his style, it probably will not follow the written text strictly, but will contain improvisations,” Father Lombardi noted.
Even if you have to stay here, you can be part of the historic events unfolding in Rome. You just won’t be able to get my favorite Roman gelato afterwards.