Thursday, November 20, 2014

María del Rosario Fitz-James Stuart y de Silva: 18th Duchess of Alba de Tormes/Grandee of Spain (RIP 1926 – 2014)


Thanks, Summer and Francisco!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Join Us for an Unforgettable Trip of a Lifetime!

To see the face of Christ.

When the Shroud of Turin goes on display in Turin's cathedral next spring – only the sixth time in nearly a century – it will have an illustrious visitor: you.

I encourage all people to consider joining me on this trip of a lifetime.  All are welcome.

Contact me for details:

The Shroud, believed to be the burial cloth of Christ, is ordinarily kept in a protective case safe inside Turin’s cathedral. But in 2015, the Shroud will be displayed in the cathedral in a very rare public exhibition known as the “Ostentation.” The viewing starts April 19 and ends June 24.

We will be seeing and doing a lot in Turin, Milan, Genoa, Rome and the Vatican.

Do not miss out. 

Papal Desk

The papal apartment is a place of spectres.

Before the renovations of 50 years ago it was a place rich in baroque splendor.   

The walls were covered to the ceiling with elegant crimson damask.

Antique Flemish tapestries hung on the walls.

The mahogany desk top inlay covered in calf or pigskin.

Parchments were signed made of vellum.

Lovely oriental vases and gold-mounted candelabra, all gifts to the popes.  

None of this was because the pope was not humble, but because of the exalted dignity of the office.  


From classical architectural design, the rosette is a round, stylized flower design - the natural design of a botanical rosette.  It was seen in antiquity (as seen here, photographed at the Roman Basilica of St. Paul) as well as in Romanesque and Renaissance art.  The rosette is even sometimes used to decorate formal military awards and even some Swiss Guard uniforms.  

Vintage Nativity Set for Your Home

Goebel.  Since 1871.  Crèche figurines cannot be missing from your Christmas home.  I wish Goebel would re-create some of these treasures and re-introduce them to the modern world.

75th Anniversary of the Election of Pius XII Celebration in Italy


Roman Cassock with Fascia

And Whom Did it Bother?

Arch of Constanine

One of the most delightful Rome experiences is to have a knowledgeable art historian explain to you the meanings entombed in the Constantine Archway.

The link with the Via Sacra that led up to the Capitol along the route followed by the triumphal processions, is the huge Constantine Arch, without doubt the finest example of its kind, built in 313 AD to commemorate the triumph of the first Christian Emperor, who vanquished Maxentius. 

Catholic Culture: Mourning Stationary

If you ask at a cartoleria in Italy they can show you what they have. 

In the image you see one version of condolence stationary. 

More common, you see a letter page that has a black border completely around the outer page, creating the effect of a black frame.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Did You Know?

The priest makes the sign of the cross fifty-two times during the Extraordinary Form of the Mass.  Fifteen times upon himself.  Twice on the Gospel.  Fourteen times either with or on the oblations.  Twenty times on the sacred species or with them.  And once upon the faithful at the end. 

Adoptions in Rome

Notice the old turntable wheel covered by the openwork grille?

People walk by this every day and don't think twice.  

This is a relic from when the old Schola Saxonum of the Anglo-Saxons was turned into a foundling hospital by Pope Innocent III in 1204.

Every big city had a foundling hospital.  These beacons of hope and compassion were invented by the Catholic Church.  Even New York City had its giant foundling hospital, a favorite charity of Cardinal Spellman.   

Today this sort of thing is actually returning.  So many abandoned babies.  St. Paul's Hospital, located in downtown Vancouver, I hear has reinstated something like this.

The present building you see in the photo was erected by Sixtus IV in the fifteenth century, still as a foundling hospital, an it accepted trovatelli foundling babies until the early twentieth century.    

The turntable in the wall held a small crib in which the infants were placed.  A bell was rung and, while the depositor slipped away unseen, someone inside revolved the wheel and removed the baby.  Close to the turntable was a second grille for the use of those who thought of adopting a child, and by looking through this grille, they could see if there was a babe that spoke to their heart.

Today this building is empty.  I have been inside a few times.  Sometimes chairs are set up for lecture events.  It appears to the public from the outside to be an abandoned church.  The building ought to be open for pilgrims and tourists alike to see the frescoes and to marvel at the architectural delights.

What to Eat in Rome: Gnocchi

People frequently ask what to eat in Rome. 

Try Gnocchi.

They are various thick, soft dough dumplings that may be made from semolina, ordinary wheat flour, egg, cheese, potato, breadcrumbs, or similar ingredients.

Motto of Bishop Pacelli: Opus Iustitiae Pax (The Work of Peace is Justice)

Rome lore has it that Mons. Pacelli got his motto from here - walking by Santa Maria dell' Anima for countless years and having read these words as he passed. 

Erit Opus Iustitiae Pax
Et Cultus Iustitiae
Et Securitas Usque
In Sempiternum

(And the work of justice shall be peace, and the service of justice quietness, and security for ever.)

-Isaiah 32:17

Soli Deo

"Only God" inscribed above the windows of the Palazzo della Rovere.

Once I knew a guy who paid a little extra to have these words replace the numbers on his automobile license plate.  

Yours truly has always seen this palace as one of the most interesting, historical and sadly overlooked in Rome.  In fact, it is absolutely fascinating in every detail. 

How to Decorate Your Choir Loft

"Laudate Dominum...In Choro...Et Organo."  -Ps. 150

Seen at the Roman Basilica of Santa Croce in Gerusaleme. 

Monday, November 17, 2014


From the Urals in Russia and given by the Czar to the Pope as a gift.

Gorgeous, emerald opaque, green banded mineral.

Seen here at the Roman Basilica of St. Paul Outside-the-Walls. 

The Humanum Series - Nov 17-19 in the Vatican

International Conference on Complementarity Opens in the Vatican

The first day of The International Interreligious Colloquium on The Complementarity of Man and Woman in Vatican City was attended by about 350 academic, religious, and civil society leaders from over 14 religions and 23 countries.

See their site in English:

Participants listened to an unprecedented array of prominent speakers, beginning with Pope Francis, speaking about the reality of the complementary relationship between men and women as it is lived in the world, and the role of this union in God’s divine plan.
Two of six films part of The Humanum Series were screened today to attendees. These explored the ancient, organic and timeless design of man and woman in The Destiny of Humanity: On the Meaning of Marriage, and the family’s role in humanity as The Cradle of Life and Love: A Mother and Father for the World's Children. The remaining four short films will be screened over the next two days at the colloquium, and released online.  

The Cradle of Life & Love: A Mother & Father for the World's Children | ...

The Destiny of Humanity: On the Meaning of Marriage | Part 1 of 6 of The...

What to Give Your Priest for Christmas

What to buy a priest?

The perennial question.

Many priests only receive cards with a cheque and maybe a fancy bottle of booze for Christmas.  

For the perfect gift idea, see here and order soon as these treasures are custom made to order.

Do not hesitate.

This he will appreciate and it will be used at the service of the altar.

Buy now:

Cardinal Tisserant's Secretary Defends Venerable Pius XII

"More horrendous aspersions were cast against Pope Pius XII when he was accused of lacking courage in defending the Jews during the war.  In fact, the opposite is true, and the malevolent insinuations of the playwright Rolf Hochhuth in his portrayal of the figure of Pius XII in his play The Deputy were false.

The Pope did not take a stand of violent opposition to Hitler in order to facilitate surreptitiously saving the lives of thousands of Jews; untold harm would have been unleashed had the German leader been aware of this.

Personally, I am obliged to profess my gratitude to Pius XII.  His cause for canonization is under scrutiny, and the investigation will determine if my conviction that he is a saint is correct.  He called me to work in the Vatican, and it is thanks to him that my priesthood got its universal vision.  It is my conviction that the Pope was indeed inspired by the Holy Spirit in his direction of the Church."

-Mons. Pedro Lopez-Gallo

Source: B.C. Catholic (Sept 22, 2014)

Autumn in Rome

How St. John Paul II Led Dr. Taylor Marshall to the Catholic Church

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Chartres Pilgrimage for American and Canadian Youth

Attention Catholic students and homeschool families...

Join us for this chance of a lifetime trip to Europe in 2015 to visit the Catholic shrines of France along with an added bonus trip to Italy to see the Shroud of Turin.

Do not miss this window of opportunity -- a tour which will not be repeated.  Space is limited.  Contact me for details (see link below).      

This extraordinary 14-day journey will begin on May 20 and will last until June 2, 2015.  

Allow your kids to experience pilgrimage as well as life and fellowship with Catholic youth from France, the eldest daughter of the Church.

Join us as we experience first-hand life in  monasteries and convents of France while exploring Catholic life in this great nation. 

Highlights include: in Paris the crown of thorns at Saint-Chapelle along with the incorrupt remains of Sts. Vincent de Paul and Catherine Laboure.  Notre-Dame Cathedral.  The Cathedral of Chartres.  The Benedictine Abbey of Fontgombault, Nevers to see the incorrupt remains of St. Bernadette. Paray-le-Monial to see where the Sacred Heart of Jesus appeared to the nun and mystic, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque.  Ars to visit the incorrupt remains of St. John Vianney.  Lyon to see one of the loveliest little cities in the world with the best cuisine.  La Salette where Our Lady appeared to children, and much, much more.  

Special added bonus...

After a night in La Salette we will be crossing the Alps in our private bus for a special visit to Italy to see the Shroud of Turin during its scheduled 2015 extraordinary public exhibition, a rare public showing of the Shroud thanks to the munificence of Pope Francis.

Rome's Triton Fountain: Arms of Pope Urban VIII

Bernini's fine Triton Fountain (1637) is set in a quadrilobe pool.  Four dolphins support a huge conch bearing the heraldic arms of Urban VIII Barberini, in which the mighty Triton blows water through a conch trumpet.  Here you can see the arms in a blaze of afternoon sun. 

The fountain is situated in the center of Piazza Barberini, at the top of the busy Via del Tritone.  To the right is the grand palace of the Barberini family, now also the National Gallery of Ancient Art.  Leading from the far-left end of the square is the Via Vittorio Veneto, one of Rome's most famous streets. 

Dominicans in Rome Standing Up for Persecuted Christians

Ancient Rome's Old Pavement: Polygonal Blocks of Basalt

Always a thrill to walk atop these thick stones scarred and grooved with the traffic of twenty centuries. 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Join Us in Italy: Spring 2015!

Click here for more info:

Cappa Magna in Milano: Fashion Capital of the World

Milan: House of Style.

Thanks, Summer!

Chains of St. Paul

Roman Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls. 

Palazzo della Cancelleria (Palace of the Chancellery)

Described by some as the earliest Renaissance Palace in Rome (and a designated World Heritage Site).  Quite lovely to visit here for events.   

Rome Home of Marconi

Visiting here is like traveling back in time.  Nothing has been touched since he passed away in 1937.  It would make a fine museum.  His daughter still lives here, born in 1930. 

Palazzo Malta in Rome

Via dei Condotti, 68.

This is one of two HQ of the O/M in Rome (the other being the Villa Malta on the Aventine Hill).

The Prince and Grand Master lives here.  Perhaps Cardinal Burke will live here as well, although I think he will likely keep his Vatican flat.

Catholic Brazil in Rome

Fine men.  Our future priests!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Christmas is Approaching!

Pro-Life Leadership: Meet the Great Stephanie Gray

Graduate with a Licentiate in Thomism

Palatine Hill

Via Crucis amid the rubble of the Caesars. 

Archbishop Guido Pozzo

Secretary to the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei. 

The Sant'Eustachio Caffè

It needs no introduction. 

Hailed as the best place for coffee in Rome.

Great for thoughtful souvenir gifts for those at home.

Rome Quotes

"Though Italy was and remained his first love."

-Alice von Hildebrand speaking of Dietrich von Hildebrand

Thursday, November 13, 2014

VATICANO - Summorum Pontificum Pilgrimage 2014

Orbis Catholicus Blog

Rebranding of this blog is underway.

It has been 5 years since the last rebranding and now is the time.

Yesterday the template was changed for a fresh new look.

Expect more change and let me know your input.

This blog has sought to be instrumental in helping to make others happy, to introduce them to another intellectual and artistic world and to the glorious world of faith in which I was raised.

Life is beautiful.  Studium Urbis.  And Deus providebit (God will provide).   

Latin Inscription on Swiss Guard Sword: Omnia Possum In Eo Qui Me Confortat

I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.

Norbertines in Rome

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Sacristiae Praefectus

It is only fair to say a word of thanks to a dear friend, Giancarlo, for his countless hours of devotion to the Roman rite in the city of Rome.

Giancarlo is the longtime sacristan of the Roman parish of Santissima Trinita' dei Pellegrini.  A linguist and an art historian, he is a devoted son of the Church.   

Extremely competent in all matters liturgical, this talented sacristan runs a tight ship.  It is thanks to his care, attentiveness and availability that visiting clergy are able to celebrate their daily Mass in Rome with such ease and speed.  I encourage all readers to offer a prayer of gratitude for his services. 

The adept sacristan completely transforms a sacristy for the better by bringing competency, a welcoming spirit and organization to the best sacristy.     

Many thanks to this sacristan for his generosity and kindness.  He has always been patient with me.   

I encourage the faithful to visit this parish when in Rome and to be generous when the collection basket is passed. 

Tribute to Venerable Pius XII in St. Peter's Basilica

Placed here in 1957, after this area was restored.

The two angels, very 1950s, thankfully blend in from the eye level.

A worthy tribute to a former Archpriest of the Basilica, entombed half way under the center aisle leading from the altar of the chair to the main altar above the tomb of the Venerable Prince of the Apostles.