Sede Vacante.

As of 1:00pm Central Standard Time, the See (seat) of the Diocese of Rome is vacant, and we have no Pope.

Benedict XVI, who will now be known as Supreme Pontiff Emeritus, departed the city of Rome this morning via helicopter for the papal villa in Castel Gandolfo, about 30 kilometers southeast of Vatican City.

AP Photo/Michael Sohn

AP Photo/Michael Sohn

Once he arrived at the papal villa in Castel Gandolfo, he greeted the lay faithful with a few words, and said, “I am simply a pilgrim starting the final stage of his pilgrimage on this earth.  But I would like yet again, with my heart, my love, my prayers, my reflection, with all of my interior strength, to work for the common good and the good of the Church and of humanity . . . let us go forward together with the Lord for the good of the Church and of the world.  I impart to you now my blessing with all of my heart.”

And then, at 8:00pm in Castel Gandolfo, in front of the papal villa, the Swiss Guard departed from their post and ceremonially gave the duty of protecting the pope to the Vatican police, and the Diocese of Rome became sede vacante, a “vacant see (seat)”.  You can watch this changing of the guard in this video (the event happens around minute 8:45 and continues for a few minutes after that).

Perhaps you could offer a prayer in thanksgiving for the holy and beautiful eight-year reign of Benedict XVI, pope emeritus, sometime today?

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Our Lady of the Snows, pray for us!

As over a foot of snow is set to blanket the UW-Madison campus and the Madison metro area, closing local schools, businesses, and even most operations at the university, let us ask the Blessed Virgin Mary, under her title of Our Lady of the Snows, to protect all those who must venture out into the inclement weather today.

Why Our Lady of the Snows? 

According to a legend dating back to the fourth century (352 AD), the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to a wealthy, noble Roman couple who were without children and, having no children, had chosen Mary as the heiress to their fortune.  In her appearance in a dream, she expressed her desire to have a church built in Rome in her honor, and that the site for this church would soon find itself covered in snow.  On a day in August, in the hot, stifling summer climate of Mediterranean Rome, the Esquiline Hill, one of the seven historic hills in the city, was blanketed by fresh snow – heralded as a miracle.  In 358 AD, a church was built on the site to honor the Mother of God.  Today, that church is known through the world as the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore – the Basilica of St. Mary Major, one of only four basilicas in all the world that are known as major basilicas (the others being St. John Lateran, St. Peter’s, and St. Paul Outside the Walls, also all in Rome).  To this day, the Basilica of St. Mary Major remains the largest church dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary in the city of Rome.

SantaMariaMaggiore

Our Lady of the Snows, pray for us!

For more information on the miracle of the snows:

National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows in Belleville, Illinois

For more information on St. Mary Major:

Official Website of the Papal Basilica of St. Mary Major