Friday, June 03, 2016

One, holy, catholic and apostolic

Summi pontifices in hac basilica sepulti.
"All of the Popes buried in this basilica."
From  Peter to John Paul II.
It's hard not to feel immersed in the Roman Catholic tradition where I am.  The Apostolic Palace in Castel Gandolfo is at the end of the street, papal coat of arms front and center.  The gorgeous 17th century Bernini church of St. Thomas of Villanova is also in the square.  And then there was St. Peter's in Vatican City.

The list of the popes buried under St. Peter's Basilica felt daunting, particularly Peter's name at the very top.  These names chiseled into the wall instantly called to mind the line in the Nicene creed, "I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church."

But truth be told, it was not St. Peter's where I felt these four marks of the church most strongly, but in the tiny Jesuit chapel tucked into the Vatican Observatory where I've been going to daily Mass. At most a dozen of us, speaking a half-dozen different languages, gathered around the altar.  We represent the church universal, the catholicity of the faithful, coming from five different continents (and at least one in the crowd has been to all seven continents.)  A member of the Roman Curia, or perhaps, two.  Young astronomers.  We share the one table, the one cup, the one bread.

One.  Holy.  Catholic.  Apostolic.


  1. This is so powerful. We bicker among ourselves a lot, but this is a reminder of how global we are. I am enjoying your reports from Rome.

    1. Thanks! I am reminded, too, of a loose translation from St. Thomas Aquinas by Daniel Ladinsky: we are all madly in love with the same God.