Mass for the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart

This morning I had Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica for the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. My classmate and now-fellow “JCL“, Jenna Marie Cooper, attended and listened attentively to my brilliant homily (ha). Jenna is a consecrated virgin in the Archdiocese of New York, and she has a blog that you should check out, particularly if you or a young woman you know might be interested in a vocation to consecrated virginity in the Church.

The Basilica was quite busy this morning; once I had vested for Mass we exited the sacristy with chalice and cruets and did a lap around the Basilica, walking past all the altars – all occupied – before stopping at this one and waiting our turn. It is dedicated to Mary “Mater Ecclesiae” (Mother of the Church). Pope John Paul II had the little image that you see above the altar copied in mosaic format and installed overlooking St. Peter’s Square after he survived the attempt on his life in 1981, as I previously mentioned here.

This altar is located in the back-left corner of St. Peter’s Basilica – an area which is almost always closed, apart from the time when priests may offer Mass each morning. So, it’s effectively another “hidden altar” to add to the previous one I posted about.

In that back left corner of the Basilica, just to the right of the altar pictured above, there is another interesting altar that depicts the confrontation of Pope Saint Leo the Great with Attila the Hun. Pope Leo famously went out to confront Attila, preventing him from sacking Rome, in the 5th century. What makes this altar so interesting is not only the subject matter, but also the fact that unlike all the other altars in the Basilica, which have very fine mosaics above them (so fine that they look like paintings), this image is depicted in high relief carving:

After Mass it was important that we have a festal breakfast. This is about as festal as it gets in Rome, where breakfast (for an Italian) consists of a shot of strong coffee and some form of carbs, just enough to make you hungry for a real breakfast. I, however, do not drink coffee:

That there is a Roman doughnut, called a “ciambella”. It’s not Dunkin’ Donuts but it did the trick anyhow!

Now I am finishing my packing and getting ready to head out first thing in the morning. While I will be leaving Rome, I still have a fair amount of material to share, so there will be additional Rome posts as time goes on. For now, back to packing!

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