Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Papacy That Was.

I've been researching some historical details for a painting, a search which takes me through many websites and books in my personal library.  I was specifically looking through some books on Pope Pius XII to find a photo of him as a seminarian, and came across my copy of Sr. Marchione's Pictorial Life of Pius XII.  

I distracted myself with all the photos of Papal grandeur, now nearly completely absent from Papal ceremonies.  As everyone knows, since Vatican II, very much has changed - and since the election of Pope Francis - it is changed for good.  Popes are no longer 'prisoners' in the Vatican, slaves to courtly custom and ceremonial tradition, and so on.

I have a personal devotion to Pius XII, yet looking through the photos, one cannot help but notice that everything in the Papal court was very stiff and formal, if not forbidding.  Even during the papacy of Paul VI, royal protocol remained intact - there was a definite distance enforced between the Holy Father and ordinary people.  Pope John Paul II helped to change all of that in and through his travels, World Youth Day, the Wednesday audience, and so on.  Pope Benedict continued in that vein as well.  His taste for traditional vestments and liturgical decorum never seemed to me to present a distancing of his person from personnel or visitors, diplomats or pilgrims.  I never felt Pope Benedict intended a return to courtly protocol or royal decorum.  It seems to me this was demonstrated by his rejection of the papal triregnum as well as the sedia gestatoria, not to mention his fidelity to the celebration of Mass in the Ordinary Form.

Nevertheless, Pope Francis, in a very short time, seems to have finally extricated the papacy from the royal trappings which enveloped the Petrine Office.

I can't imagine going back.

(I found the photo of Pius XII I was looking for, BTW.)


  1. I rather liked BXVI's red shoes, and fun hats (and love of cats). While Pope Francis displays an overt love for the poor and downtrodden (which is touching), I still miss his predecessor.

    Looking forward to your new painting.

    P.S. Did you see this Terry?

    1. I loved Pope Benedict's continuation of papal dress - the hats and shoes as you say - he always seemed accessible and down to earth - even more so than Blessed John Paul, though one might not agree with me.

      I did see the plea to the Mafia - what a beautiful, fatherly appeal that was!

    2. Yeah, I had to confess [literally] that I've been missing BXVI to the priest today, and he was amazingly supportive of Pope Francis, almost to the point of maybe being angry/upset with me. Not sure, since my hearing is so poor, sometimes priests will speak loudly to try to help me out, but this is the third or fourth priest (not all through confession) that have adamantly stood up for Pope Francis. I think maybe because PF is so blunt in the way that he speaks (like Leon Bloy, whom PF quoted his first time out on the balcony), that everyone has to scurry around and "apologize" for him. Anyway, regarding the plea to the Mafia, I loved it too, but oh so want to hear something along those lines voiced at Planned Parenthood. I think their body damage numbers are quite a bit more than the Mafia could ever produce. And to be honest, while I've been praying for the end of abortion for decades, I don't recall ever praying for the sins of the Mafia. Not that it's not a good thing to do, I just never thought to do so.

  2. Take a look at this remarkable footage of an actual general audience of Pius XII:


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