Photos for Today

St. Peter's Basilica

Bernini's Gloria

Kissing Peter's toe

Michelangelo's Dome

Tomb of Blessed John XXIII

From the Vatican Museums

Scenes from the Vatican Museums

The Hall of Maps

This painting shows the archangel Michael appearing on the site
of the Castel Sant'Angelo

The Hall of Inscriptions

Early Christian image of Christ as the Good Shepherd

Image of the peacock, symbol of the resurrection,
from the catacombs

Back at St. Peter's for the Evening Mass (Thanks, Alison!)


Prayers for Today

MORNING:  The Sistine Chapel

What can we say about the Sistine Chapel? This is a place not to speak, but to look. Pope John Paul II’s last poem, Roman Triptych, offers a wonderful meditation on the Sistine Chapel--the site of the Conclave when a new Pope is elected.

Place of Judgment

It is here, beneath this wondrous Sistine profusion of color
that the Cardinals assemble—
the community responsible for the legacy of the keys of the Kingdom.
They come here, to this very place.
And once more Michelangelo wraps them in his vision.
Lo, they see themselves in the midst of the Beginning and the End,
between the Day of Creation and the Day of Judgment…
Final transparency and light.
The clarity of the events—
The clarity of consciences—
During the Conclave Michelangelo must teach them—
Do not forget: Omnia nuda et aperta sunt ante oculos Eius.
You who see all, point to him!
He will point him out…

Intentions for the morning

PILGRIMS TO ROME AND PILGRIMS AT HOME: In this place where Popes are elected, we pray for our Church, that in all its decisions it will be guided not by human fear or favor, but by the Holy Spirit.


EVENING:  Mass at the Chair, San Pietro

Shepherd of the Church, feed my lambs and tend my sheep
Inscription, in Latin and Greek, in the apse of St. Peter’s Basilica

The Cathedra of Bernini

Bernini’s famous Cathedra has been described as “a fantastic improvisation… a mystery given visual shape.” Four giant doctors of the church, Augustine and Ambrose from the West, Athanasius and John Chrysostom from the East, seem to be supporting the Chair—symbol of Peter’s office, hence of the unity of the Church itself. But the throne is really sustained not from below, but from above, by the power of the Holy Spirit. The stained-glass image of the Spirit as a simple dove is surrounded by dozens of heavenly beings, who are simply ecstatic with joy, tumbling over each other with enthusiasm. “Close to the Cathedra” (one art historian has written) “the beholder finds himself in a world which he shares with saints and angels, and he is therefore submitted to an extraordinarily powerful emotional experience.” Whether or not you love the Baroque, you cannot help responding to this poem which expresses, without words, the joy of belonging to the Church.

Jesus and Peter

Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He then said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.”

Intentions for the evening

PILGRIMS TO ROME AND PILGRIMS AT HOME: Today let us pray for our Pope, Benedict XVI, who less than one year ago stepped into “the shoes of the fisherman.” Let us pray that he may be guided by the Holy Spirit in every decision he makes.



Click here to visit the Sistine Chapel online at the Vatican Museums website