Il Giornale interviews Msgr. Guido Marini, papal MC

Here is the interview with Msgr. Guido Marini in the Italian daily Il Giornale in my translation:

This is how I gave the Pope a retro make-over  ("Così ho rifatto il look stile vintage al Papa") [We can do this in various ways, and what I chose here does not reflect anything of the style of language used by Msgr. Marini in the quotations below.  I was trying to get at the punch of the headline in more popularized jargon.]

by Andrea Tornielli

In Genoa, where he grew up, instead of "Marini" they called him Fr. "Guidino", because he is tall and thin.  In Rome, where he came by the selection of Benedict XVI last October, he has come to be appreciated for his gentility but also his decision to put into practice faithfully Ratzinger’s liturgical ideas.  Msgr. Guido Marini, class of 1965, and for a few months now the new Master of Pontifical Liturgical Celebrations, succeeded the homonymous Piero Marini, for many years the artificer of the liturgies of John Paul II and also for the beginning of the present pontificate.  If from the point of view of the name there couldn’t have been a smoother transition, at the arrival of Fr. Guido – holder of several doctorates, the sometime MC and Chancellor of two Archbishops of Genoa – he hasn’t gone unnoticed, thanks to the recovery of some traditional vestments.  Old mitres have been exhumed, and the Pontiff has even changed his pastoral staff, abandoning the modern one in silver to take up a "ferula" (staff surrmounted by a Cross) of Pius IX.  It has gotten to the point that the press during his visit to the USA spoke of a "vintage" Pope.

Il Giornale met with the MC in his office, from which one has one of most beautiful views of the Piazza of St. Peter.

In the first place, let’s ask the reason for the recovery of the precious headgear of his predecessors: for example, last Christmas, Ratzinger used mitres belonging to Paul VI, John XXIII and Benedict XV.

"The vestments chosen, as also other particulars of the Rite," the Master of Ceremonies explained, "are intended to underscore the continuity of the present liturgical celebration with that which characterized in the past the life of the Church.  Continuity is the interpretive key, always the exact criteria for reading the Church’s journey through time.  This is valid also for liturgy."  "As one Pope cites in his documents the Pontiffs who preceed him, so as to indicate the continutiy of the Magisterium of the Church," Marini continues, "so in the ambient of liturgy a Pope uses also the vestments and sacred accoutrement of his precedessors to show the same continuity also in his celebratations.  I would, however, mention that the Pope does not always use old vestments.  He often wears new ones.  The importance is not so much their antiquity or modernity, as much as their beauty and dignity, important components for every liturgical celebration."

Another huge change, more recently, is the setting aside of the modern silver pastoral Cross of Paul VI.  Ratzinger has adopted a larger one, of Pius IX.

"Obviously," Marini explains, "what I just said about continuity applies here as well.  In this case, however, there is also a practical element: the ferula of Pius IX is lighter and more manageable.  So much so that the Pope decided to use it all the time, as was seen in also in the USA."

On some occasiones, as in the consistory for the creation of new Cardinals, the high papal throne was reinstated.  Nostaligia for temporal power?

"No nostalgia", the MC responds with a smile playing on his lips.  "The so-called throne, used in particular situations, is intended only to highlight the liturgical presidency of the Holy Father."

Finally, it was noted, from the moment Msgr. Marini took up his role, the presence of a Cross in the center of the altar, as in former times.  Also in this case, the MC wanted to make understood the profound meaning of a choice that has nothing to do with nostalgia:

"The position of the Cross in the center of the altar shows the centrality of the Crucified One in the Eucharistic celebration and the precise orientation that the whole assembly is called to have during the Eucharistic liturgy: we don’t look at ourselves, but we look toward Him who was born, died, and rose for us, the Savior.  From the Lord comes salvation. He is the East, the sun which rises, toward which we must all turn our gaze, from which we all must receive the gift of grace."

The telephone rings constantly.  The last details must be finalized for the liturgies that Benedict XVI will celebrate in Savona and Genoa on 17 and 18 May.

We ask of it is difficult to be the papal MC.

"It is a demanding role not only for the amount of work, but above all for the responsibility it carries.  I have really taken stock of the responsibility to live out with complete fidelity to the Holy Father the task which has been entrusted to me, keeping in mind that the liturgy which I have been called to serve and "organize" is the liturgy of the Church, and of the Pope".

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Mark M says:

    Not meaning to crow, but at least this confirms something:

    “The ferula of Pius IX is lighter and more manageable. So much so that the Pope decided to use it all the time, as was seen in also in the USA.”

  2. Dante says:

    Father Z.

    Vintage is the word used when you take old stuff and reuse it. The object dates from the past, has nothing new.
    Retro is a redesign of and old article, it includes new modern style features mixed within the old style. Comes from French; retrospectif; meaning retrospective, looking to the past. Talks about a nostalgic look but not the original past look. Monsignor Marini is referring to vintage not retro in my understanding.

    Valeas good father! Great Blog!

  3. Adam says:

    Why is there a seventh candle placed on the altar, in line with the crucifix? Is there a tradition for this in the past?

  4. Michael says:


    As far as I know, it was customary for Ordinaries within their diocese, as well as Cardinals (and presumably the Holy Father) at all times, to use seven candles.

  5. young catholic seminarian says:

    the use of the seventh Candle at the Pontifical Mass is reserved to ordinaries – so if a cardinal was not the bishop of a territorial see – he would not be able to use it. the pontiff as the ordinary of the archdiocese of Rome uses the seventh candle….bring on the engagement with tradition and modern culture!!!

  6. Domenico says:

    I, John, your brother, who share with you in Jesus the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet saying, “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.” Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden girdle round his breast … (Apocalisse (RSV) 1; 9-13)
    The opening vision of the Book of Revelation, set on the Lord’s day and perhaps during a liturgical service, has something to say about the seven cadles on the altar.

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