Two Popes meet and Fr. Z spots a good liturgical detail in the chapel

In the chapel where Benedict is hanging his zucchetto these days, and where he and Pope Francis prayed together, I noticed that the Cross is veiled in purple… probably since last Sunday, called 1st Passion Sunday in the older calendar.  The icon of Our Lady should have been veiled too, but that might have freaked out… some people.

No disrespect to Francis, but I had to put the arrow somewhere.

The Ordo for the Novus Ordo also indicates that images can be covered from the 5th Sunday of Lent onward.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Benedict XVI, Francis, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000 and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Christopher says:

    Father, perhaps you could tilt the arrow so it is diagonal?

    God Bless.

  2. It brought tears to my eyes to see the 2 Popes together in harmony and in love. The love between the 2 is genuine and an inspiration to all of us. The Psalm comes to mind: “it is good when brothers dwell in harmony and love. It is like the myrrh the head which runs down the the beard, the beard of Aaron, which runs down even unto the border of his robe.” In the Eastern Church the priest says this prayer as he places the epitrachil (stole) on his neck. Hopefully it will be a comfort to so many who have been so anxious about many things.

  3. akp1 says:

    I just saw the news report – Pope Emeritus Benedict looks very frail.

  4. Ignatius says:

    It seems that Pope Francis gave Benedict XVI the icon Metropolitan Hilarion of the Patriarchate of Moscow gave him recently.

  5. Ben Yanke says:

    I noticed the same thing.

  6. Father G says:

    Yes, it is the icon of the Mother of God, Call to Humility:
    I wonder what Patriarch Kirill and Metropolitan Hilarion will think.

  7. mcarroll says:

    I also posted about the covering of statues etc. It seems rarely done in Britain. I am saddened by the fact that all aspects of the Catholic Church lead us to Christ seems to have been forgotten (even the colours).

    Thankfully we seem to have some good formations going through Oscott who seem to acknowledge this fact, even if their superiors and teachers may not.

  8. Random Friar says:

    I’m not sure Pope Francis “gave” the icon to Benedict. Well, this is in Castel Gandolfo, the papal house away from the Vatican, so that icon will still be there for Pope Francis when he visits.

    I think the Metropolitan would be touched to see it in the private chapel of the Holy Father in his home away from home.

  9. Diane at Te Deum Laudamus says:

    Christopher beat me to it!

    I’m on my 3rd update of my own post on the subject.

  10. cwalshb says:

    Are we sure His Holiness Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI is celebrating the Novus Ordo Mass these days?

  11. Imrahil says:

    I seem to live in an island of the blessed, as the idiom goes.

    Never been in a Church where the crosses (at least the “veilable” crosses) were not veiled in Passiontide. At least I cannot remember to have.

  12. RobertK says:

    I just watched the video, and it was good to see both of them praying together. Yes Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI seems too be looking more frail, but he seems in good spirits. I think the Vatican is not telling us something about his health. But I will leave it at that. God bless Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

  13. JabbaPapa says:

    I’ve actually been wrestling with this very question myself in recent days, and I have to say that I’ve happily reached the same conclusion as our Holy Father and our Pontiff Emeritus.

    And this image therefore reassures me.

    Through the agency of the Holy Spirit and the Holy Virgin Saint Mary I have come into the possession of a terracotta Mother and Child — initially, I thought, they should be veiled.

    Except that all cults are suspended in this period of Lent EXCEPT the cult to Our Lord Jesus — so the child Jesus should therefore NOT Himself be veiled in this period.

    Our Lord Christ is present in the icon that our Holy Father is venerating in Communion with our Pontiff Emeritus — and I doubt that Father Z is more Catholic than the Popes.

  14. UncleBlobb says:

    It also looks like the altar, being against the wall, is set up for ad orientem use. :) I can’t of course see if there is another altar there, but it seems a pretty small space.

  15. Jean Marie says:

    Gosh – Pope Benedict suddenly looks very fragile. Mother Mary, pray for both of your Sons and strenghten them and us.

  16. Deo volente says:


    Is anyone certain that the Pope Emeritus is saying the Mass in the Ordinary Form? Perhaps he is saying the TLM?

  17. MikeM says:

    If that’s the icon that Pope Francis just received, perhaps it’s not veiled because it was just put there and they haven’t gotten to that yet, or figured that they’d wait until after they were done praying (and, maybe, after the world had seen its prominent placement!) to cover it up.

    It seems hardly a liturgical abuse to pray (outside of Mass) for awhile before searching for some purple cloth.

  18. I have no personal knowledge of this, but it seems generally well-known that Benedict’s private OF Masses as Pope were celebrated ad orientem, whether in Castel Gandolfo or in the papal chapel in the Vatican or in other Vatican chapels where he celebrated Mass on special occasions.

    What’s a bit surprising may be that any Catholic sees anything surprising in this photo. Certainly all crucifixes, statues and images are veiled for Passiontide in each of the several parishes I frequent. Not only in the church where I attend Sunday TLM, where the altar crucifix and the statues of Christ the King and the four Evangelists on the reredos are veiled, plus the statues of St. Joseph and of Our Lady above the side altars. And in the less conservative parish church nearest me, all the statues and crucifixes are veiled, not only in the church itself, but also in other rooms including the adoration chapel, where not only the crucifix above the altar but the Divine Mercy image and the statues and icons of Our Lady are veiled.

  19. Absit invidia says:

    This meeting is where we need the Holy Spirit to further guide our Church.

  20. Choirgirl says:

    The icon hanging above the tabernacle is Our Lady of Chestochowa, the Patroness of Poland. IIRC, it was placed there by one of the Popes Benedict (in anticipation, so it seems, of the Papacy of Bl. John Paul II).

  21. I believe that I read just recently that the Icon over the Altar was placed there Pius XI.

  22. Choirgirl says:

    Thank you, Hieromonk Gregory. :-)

    “Pope Pius XI Ratti (1922-1939) was the first pope of the modern era to have stayed in Castel Gandolfo. He had the old residence restored and spent two months a year there, with the exception of the years 1934-38, when he stayed for as long as six months a year. Pius XI had a private chapel built in the papal apartments and had it decorated’ with a reproduction of a painting of Our Lady of Czestochowa, a gift from the Polish bishops. He also had two side walls frescoed by Jan Rosen, with two episodes from Polish history, one from 1655 and the other from 1920. Pius XI had spent time in Poland between 1918-21, first as a visitor and then as Apostolic Nuncio.”


  23. Melody says:

    Not sure, but I think that Benedict was gesturing for Francis to sit in the center chair while he would use the stool, but Francis had them both use the pew instead.
    Also, Pope Benedict is not well. The extra coat for warmth against poor circulation, the cane, that walk, I’m glad he doesn’t have the Easter workload.

  24. Blaise says:

    I thought I heard Pope Francis say that when he was given the Icon of Our Lady of Humility he thought immediately of Pope Benedict and his pontificate. Perhaps Fr Z with his far better Italian could comment.

    It is I think revealing to see how our beloved emeritus Pope is so frail in comparison with Pope Francis (boy is that weird to write!). I am not sure he seems that much frailer than he did a month ago but just that the contrast is evident. Perhaps it is the informality of the proceedings that makes this so evident. It seemed to me too that Benedict wanted the Pope to take the prie dieu at the front. In all his actions it seems clear that he honours Pope Francis and defers to him.

    I am glad to say that our Church in South London, where the OF is celebrated only and only in English with some of the worst hymns you will find in England, veiled all the crosses and statues (including the main cross some 30 feet at least up the wall of the apse) from last Sunday. But other Churches I have known certainly did not do so.

  25. Juergensen says:

    “The icon of Our Lady should have been veiled too.”

    I assume the Church states this somewhere, but where?

    It seems like ever since Pope Francis took the Throne of Peter all I read here is what’s supposedly “wrong”: no red shoes, etc.

    When Pope Benedict XVI took office, he redefined the various “titles” of the Pope by eliminating at least one title that had been used by prior pontiffs and/or adding a new title that had not been used by prior pontiffs, and no one seemed to have a problem with that “change”.

  26. Pingback: Did Pope Francis Slam Socialism and Told U.S. Headed Towards Communism

  27. Frank H says:

    Here is some background on the icon that Pope Francis gave to Benedict.

    Also, my parish of 20 years has veiled the crucifixes and icons for the first time since we have belonged. It’s the first time I’ve seen it since I was in grade school…and I graduated grade school in 1968. Brick by brick!

  28. mburduck says:

    A truly historic event. I never thought I’d live to see the day when TWO living popes would be praying side-by-side. May God Bless Benedict and Francis.


Comments are closed.