A headline which invites speculation

Though I double-checked the Holy Father’s private audiences for more information, this curious headline about the General Audience from Vatican Information Service in the Bolletino stimulated in my mind one image after another:


Where is Vincenzo when we need him?

In other news, the Holy Father received also some of the cardinals-elect…

No… wait… that is an Italian Circus troop, which performed at the Audience.

It seems that the Holy Father always receives cardinals-elect in audience about this time of year.  Last year, for example…

DOH! No, wait, that’s another circus troop.

I’d better stop while I’m behind.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    can you dumb down for me the worry expressed at the Rorate Caeli blog? i am assuming this is also what you are commenting about. thanks and God Bless

  2. Father — are you going to post about Google’s commemoration of Bl. Bishop Steno today? [I’m not following. I don’t know what that is.]

  3. Supertradmum says:

    This poor man, having to put up with such. Being a Pope is, indeed, suffering.

  4. PostCatholic says:

    What a ridiculous costume. On the left of the picture, too.

  5. Andy Milam says:

    @ PostCatholic….

    What would you have him wear jeans and a t-shirt? He’s wearing what is proper for his station in life. Do you scoff at an executive who wears a suit? No? Ok, then. Have a nice day.

  6. Veronica says:

    *Sighs deeply* On one hand I understand what a great honor it is this for these people to perform in front of the Holy Father, but the more I think about it, the more I’m convinced that a general audience is not the appropriate place to have a circus troop.

  7. Clinton says:

    I don’t think that last photo is of a circus troupe. I believe it is actually the Vatican press office,
    having completed their latest goat rodeo.

  8. Clinton: You may be right!

  9. Bryan Boyle says:

    Fr: to be honest, I thought it was a reprise of the floor show from the LA Eucharistic Congress brought in to show the Holy Father how inclusive and welcoming the left coast dioceses were…

  10. irishgirl says:

    ‘I don’t think that last photo is of a circus troupe. I believe it is actually the Vatican press office, having completed their latest goat rodeo.’ – Clinton.
    HA! I love it! Good one!

  11. Charivari Rob says:

    Blessed Steno was a 17th century scientist from Denmark. Converted from Lutheran, became a priest and bishop. Has a resume of accomplishment in the physical sciences, particularly anatomy & geology.
    There was a Google Doodle (stylized variation of their homepage logo) in recognition of Steno’s 374th birthday.

  12. pm125 says:

    It is no wonder that Pope Benedict XVI looks fatigued.

  13. Phil_NL says:


    What Suburbanbanshee undoubtedly means is the fact google has, just for today, put up a custom picture with the name google depicted in such a way that it honors Bl. Nicolas Steno, who’s 374th birthday falls today (jan 11th). See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicolas_Steno .

    I never heard of him before, but according to wikipedia he was beatified in 1988, though the google commemoration is surely because of his scientific contributions – mainly geology. As a guy working in academia, it’s nice to see the example of a beatified scientist. (especially from the period where natural science has largely separated itself from the philosophers)

  14. joecct77 says:

    I thought they were liturgical dancers.

  15. Aegidius says:

    Also known as Niels Stensen (Danish) or Nikolaus Stenonius, celebrated, taught and admired by a dedicated society in Bonn, Germany.

  16. Denis says:

    Caption: “Benedict XVI decides to appoint curia on a rotating basis”

  17. Denis says:

    ‘Holy Father witnesses episcopal revolution.’

  18. Denis says:

    “Episcopi volantes!”

  19. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:

    I’m not at all bothered by those dancers/circus folk. I like a good tumbling group. What still to this day bothers me is that hideous wall art behind the Pope in Paul VI audience hall entitled ‘La Resurrezione’ which looks more like hell than the Resurrection. It makes me vomit into my mouth. It is probably worse than that atomic bomb shaped ‘statue’ of John Paul II unveiled last year. Ick and ugh.

  20. Tony Layne says:

    I was thinking, “When was the last time Congress went on a junket to Vatican City?”

  21. RichardT says:

    The “Cuban Crocodile” was presumably a dastardly Communist plot to have the Pope eaten during the consistory.

    “My, Archbishop, what big teeth you’ve got!”

  22. Geoffrey says:

    “This poor man, having to put up with such. Being a Pope is, indeed, suffering.”

    The Holy Father does not look too perturbed. In these photos, and in similar circumstances, he is always seems to enjoy talent and good entertainment. Here is the video: http://www.romereports.com/palio/circus-act-performed-for-the-pope-english-5827.html

    “…I’m convinced that a general audience is not the appropriate place to have a circus troop.”

    I could think of at least a dozen occurrences that would be more inappropriate. Mass, for one. A general audience is just that–an audience. All those who clamor for the return of the tiara and sedia getatoria should be pleased. This is reminiscent of the really old days with court jesters!

  23. PostCatholic says:

    Andy Milam, I was referring to the Swiss guard dressed so much like a Pierrot. And yes, I can think of more appropriate clothing for a bodyguard.

    I once wore cassocks myself. Still have my last one; it makes for a great halloween costume.

  24. Gail F says:

    What in the world is that giant sculpture thing behind the pope? How did it get there? Will anyone who has been there report on if it is really as hideous as it looks in pictures? I know JPII liked modern art, but PLEASE. Is there any way to get rid of it?

  25. PostCatholic says:

    Perhaps others who’ve spent more time in Rome than me can correct me, Gail F, but to my memory that is a huge bronze sculpture of the resurrection. And I think you’d have Paul VI to blame for it, not John Paul II. The audience hall is a very 1970-ish building and is a decent example of the art and architecture prevailing at that time. It is not to my taste either, but it at least can be said that it is a holistic composition.

  26. PostCatholic says:

    Oh one more thing I should have said: I think it’s meant to show Jesus rising from the crater of an atomic bomb.

  27. AnAmericanMother says:

    I don’t have a problem with the acrobatic troupe – remember the story of Our Lady’s Juggler, which has resulted in a children’s book by Tomi de Paola, a story by Anatole France, and an opera by Jules Massenet.
    They offer the best of what they have. Good for them!
    As for the audience hall, it may be a typical example of the art/design of that time, but it isn’t decent. Some periods of history are artistic wastelands.

  28. From Vincenzo:


    Don’t forget his Pius Clocks!

  29. Centristian says:


    VATICAN CITY, 11 JAN 2012 (VIS) – The Office of Audiences of the Supreme Pontiff has introduced certain modifications to the ordinary public receptions of lizards. The audiences followed until now have been revised and simplified, with the Holy Father’s approval. The modifications chiefly involve the unification of the three phases: the opening of the cage, the feeding of the lizard, and the swift moving of the Sovereign Pontiff out of the way when the crocodile becomes agitated, displaying signs of aggression. The prayers to Steve Irwin have been modified, and the crocodiles’ leashes have been made shorter.

    On 6 January Benedict XVI announced his intention to meet twenty-two crocodiles, on 18 February, in what will be the fourth reptilian audience of his pontificate. Responses to the office of David Icke have been duly prepared.

    In its announcement, the Office of Audiences explains that the liturgical reform which began with Vatican Council II also covered the rites for popes greeting deadly lizards, and that the modified form of the reptilian audience was first used by Pope John Paul II in November of 1978 (following a tragedy the previous month). In preparing these new rites the main criterion adopted was that of not having the Sovereign Pontiff horrifyingly attacked in public audience. These audiences had to be inserted into a context of prayer, because the pontiffs imagined themselves having St. Francis-like qualities that would subdue savage beasts and were therefore rather careless in their interactions with the man-eating reptiles. Historically speaking, however, that approach proved unwise.

    Bearing in mind these historical aspects, and in continuity with the current form and main elements of meetings with dangerous wild animals, the existing practice has been reviewed and simplified. In the first place, the pellet feed of the 1969 rite has been replaced by steaks of raw meat because the crocodiles seemed to prefer human flesh to pellets, according to the rich tradition of man-eating monsters. The two prayers, furthermore, explicitly request that the Pope not be eaten by a lizard. The Pope also prays directly for himself, that he may avoid such a horrifying fate.

    What remains unchanged is the following day’s consumption of imprisoned liturgical dissidents by the visiting lizard, which begins with an expression of homage and gratitude addressed to the Pope by the traditionalist cardinals in the name of all the others.

    CTN/ VIS 20120110 (530)

  30. Denis says:

    I think that the second picture is of a little advertised event, at which a group of progressive Catholics demonstrated to the Holy Father that one does not need the sacraments to get to Heaven, because everyone will be able to climb to Heaven once the gigantic clown pyramid is built.

  31. Parasum says:

    “Perhaps others who’ve spent more time in Rome than me can correct me, Gail F, but to my memory that is a huge bronze sculpture of the resurrection. And I think you’d have Paul VI to blame for it, not John Paul II. ”

    ## Sad to say, this is exactly correct – that abominable monstrosity is indeed supposed to be a representation of the Resurrection. It has very competently been “bettered” by a church designed by a Jew that was built to mark the Jubilee in 2000, as well as by a hideous apoology for a statue of JP2. Hideous Catholic (anti-)art is still very much with us. That “sculpture” has been severely criticised even by non-Catholics. Pseudo-Catholic Brutalism at its “best”.



    “They make a desolation – and they call it art”

  32. pelerin says:

    Surely the last picture shows clones of Bill and Ben the Flowerpot men? (BBC children’s series from many years ago) As soon as I saw it I could hear them saying’ Obble obble obble!’

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