Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Nine Masses for the Pope

I spoke last night to a friend, a retired priest, who said he had just returned from the last of the nine Masses for the Pope. I wasn't familiar with this tradition before, although the priests at Catholic Ragemonkey have written about observing it in their parish.

The rituals involving the death of a Pope are all new to me; for Fr Peter, in his early 80s, they're old hat. In historical terms, Chris and I are quite unusual: we've lived for three decades and can clearly remember only one Pope during that time. When my father was my age, he'd lived through the reign of
four Popes already.

They say that after a long and eventful papacy, the cardinals usually look for an elderly caretaker to keep the Papal throne warm for a few quiet years. The Holy Spirit sometimes has other ideas, though. The cardinals tried this strategy after the long reign of Pius XII, which is how Angelo Roncalli became


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