As we say in the Fenelon Clan Abode, “I called it. I SO called it.” According to reports from several Catholic news outlets, Pope Francis has announced that he will remain living at St. Martha House where he has been staying since he arrived in Rome for the Conclave. Wait…what? Yes, you read correctly: Pope Francis will be staying at St. Martha House – a mere two-minute walk from St. Peter’s Basilica – and the Apostolic Palace is being renovated to include meeting rooms for official audiences and the like.
Pope Francis is the first pope in 110 years not to live in the Apostolic Palace, and this is causing a bit of a stir among Vatican officials. It’s also prompted me to order another couple of cases of nitroglycerin for the Swiss Guard and Vatican security – if a Pope who spontaneously jumps off the Pope Mobile and wanders into the crowds to greet his spiritual children isn’t enough to give them a heart attack, trying to figure out how to guard a Pope who lives in a boarding house with dozens of other residents and an open stream of visitors coming and going will. Maybe I’ll thrown in a few blood pressure cuffs for added precaution.
Pope Francis announced his decision today to the 50 monsignors and others who are permanent residents of St. Martha House. The guest house has a common dining area and chapel, and that’s where the Holy Father has been taking his meals and saying daily Mass, respectively, since his election March 13. The Pope will occupy Room 201, a nice, but modest suite that includes a bedroom and small living room set up for receiving guests.
I’m trying to imagine what went through the hearts and minds of the St. Martha House residents when Pope Francis told them that he intended to continue living there. How does one respond when the Pope announces that he’s coming to live at your house? I promise you, that’d be the last day I left my dirty clothes laying around!
If I might draw your attention to my March 16, 2013 blog post, I observed, “Pope Francis is still staying at St. Martha’s House. Anybody taking bets on how long he forgoes the Papal apartments?” My hunch at that time was that he planned to forgo them indefinitely. Looks like he’s heading in that direction.
Also, take a look at video I posted in that same post, “Pope Francis Receives Keys to Papal Apartments.” Some Vatican experts surmised that the look on the Holy Father’s face was one of deep emotion. Although I didn’t post it a the time, I had the distinct feeling that the expression on the Holy Father’s face was not one of deep emotion, but rather shock, even disapproval. He seemed to be somehow uncomfortable, perhaps even uncertain about the apartments. I later told my husband, “He doesn’t seem very excited about the prospect of living there.” Yep. I SO called it.
“Yeah, right!” you say. “I bet.” No, really. That’s what I thought and that’s what I said. Go back and view the video again and watch Pope Francis’ face. Then let me know what you think. Whether I’m wrong or right in my speculation is of no real import, except to give me the rare occasion to brag. What is important is that we are witnessing one historic Catholic moment after another as Pope Francis swims against the tide with every stroke. He’s a Pope of the people, a real spiritual father.
Sources: The Moynihan Letters, Catholic News Agency