Blessing Of Lambs A 500 Year Old Tradition, Priest Reveals

Shortly before the blessing of the lambs yesterday in honor of the feast of St. Agnes, the parish priest of the basilica honoring the martyr explained that the tradition has been around since the 16th century.

“Here in (the basilica of) St. Agnes, we have known this tradition for 500 years,” Fr. Franco Bergamin explained to CNA in a Jan. 21 interview shortly before the Mass of the blessing took place. Read more »

Livestock, Pets Flock To St. Peter's Square For Feast Day Blessing

Bleats, barks and honks accompanied the "Our Father" as Cardinal Angelo Comastri blessed farm animals and pets gathered outside St. Peter's Square.

Hundreds of local residents and tourists gathered for the Jan. 17 blessing to mark the feast of St. Anthony the Abbot, patron saint of animals and farmers.

Members of an Italian association of farmers and ranchers brought their donkeys, cows, horses, rabbits, hens, geese, sheep, goats and pigs, who munched on hay or feed in their wooden pens. Read more »

Church Honours Saint Silvester – Pope And Confessor Of The Faith

St  Silvester was elected Pope in the year 314.

It was one year after the Emperor Constantine passed the Edict of Milan which ended three centuries of bloody persecution of the Church and made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire.

During Silvester’s long pontificate of 20-plus years, the first “list of Roman martyrs” was compiled, a Roman school of liturgical chant was established and the Kyrie Eleison was inserted into the Mass. Read more »

Salzburg Cathedral Museum Launches Exhibition On History Of Christmas Tree

The Christmas tree that graces the centre of the Bernini colonnade in St. Peter’s Square is a tradition John Paul II introduced back in 1982.

Every year since then, the competition has been on to see who can grow the tallest tree to adorn St. Peter’s Square.

This year’s tree was a gift from the German city of Waldmünchen. Read more »

Pope Francis Wishes Everyone A Christmas of Hope, Justice And Fraternity

A group of demonstrators protesting to the Italian authorities about the difficult current economic situation was also present in St. Peter's Square.

Pope Francis noticed the large banner they were carrying and commented, following the Angelus prayer, “I see there, written in large letters, 'The poor cannot wait'.

That's nice! And this makes me think that Jesus was born in a stable, not in a house. Read more »

Pope Celebrates His 77th Birthday

Pope Francis celebrates his 77th birthday and congratulations have arrived in the Vatican from all over the world.

However, in his city of birth, Buenos Aires, citizens are celebrating the birthday of their former archbishop.

The parishioners of the diaconate of Boca-Barrajas, one of the most popular and troubled areas of the city, will spend the day in Plaza Constitucion where a “missionary tent” has been erected to welcome the “invisible” inhabitants of the capital. Read more »

Pope Francis Lauds Mandela's Creation Of A 'New South Africa'

After the death of former South African president Nelson Mandela, Pope Francis issued a letter offering condolences to his family and praising the politician’s commitment to promoting human dignity.

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, the South African revolutionary who headed the country’s anti-apartheid movement, fighting to replace it with a multiracial democracy, passed away on Wednesday, Dec. 5 at the age of 95 in his Johannesburg home after a long battle with illness. Read more »

Pope Francis: Uttering Christian Words Without Putting Them Into Practice Hurts People

Pronouncing Christian words without Christ or without putting them into practice hurts the person pronouncing them and others because they are based on pride and cause division in the Church.

This was the warning Francis sent out at this morning’s mass in St. Martha’s House.

Listening to and acting on the Word of God is like building a house on a rock, Francis said, inspired by today’s parable from the Gospel of Matthew (7: 21, 24-27). Read more »

Pope Says Only Men Can Be Priests But Women Must Have Voice In Church

The Catholic Church is not going to change its position on the inadmissibility of women priests, Pope Francis said but it does have to stop linking all decision making to ordination and allow women to have a voice in deliberations.

In his apostolic exhortation, "Evangelii Gaudium" ("The Joy of the Gospel"), Pope Francis wrote that the involvement of all Catholics is needed -- both as missionaries and in revising structures and pastoral programs to ensure they are focused on mission. Read more »

Pope Francis Calls For Full Religious Freedom In The Middle East

After a two-hour private meeting today with the patriarchs and major archbishops of the Eastern Catholic churches, Pope Francis prayed for peace and full religious freedom throughout the Middle East.

Referring to himself, he said “the Bishop of Rome will not be at peace as long as there are men and women – of any religion – harmed in their dignity, deprived of what is necessary for their survival, robbed of their future or forced to become refugees. Read more »

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