The Day I Visited the Domus Sanctae Marthae

Domus Sanctae Marthae

“Why yes [eyelids fluttering], I’ve been to the Pope’s new home….”  And I’ve got photos!Here's how it happened:  Some years ago, I was leading a group of Catholic business leaders to Rome and almost to Poland.  (I say “almost” because I broke my foot on the cobblestones in Rome and had to fly home—and I will likely die without ever having visited the birthplace of Blessed JPII.)To help with the Poland portion of the trip, we enlisted a young Polish Dominican, Fr. Wojciech Giertych.  I had … [Read more...]

Pope Francis—a Happy Surprise

Pope Francis bowing

Well, tell me:  You weren’t expecting this, were you?! Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was not on anyone’s short list of papabile—at least not on any lists that I read in the last two weeks.  Perhaps he would have been, had we insular North American Catholics known anything about him.But from the moment he asked for our prayer before he blessed us, then bowed to accept our tender offerings, I loved him.  As I’ve read more and heard more today, I feel more and more at home in the quiet pres … [Read more...]

Making Smoke: Vatican Releases Its Secret Recipe

Black smoke rising from the Sistine Chapel

It’s white!  No, it’s grey!  No, it’s black!We are a world of smoke-watchers today, checking the news for a sign that the Cardinal electors have finished their work and have elected the next Supreme Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church.The New York Times, quoting Vatican sources on their Science page, explains: Both recipes are fairly standard pyrotechnical formulas. The white smoke, used to announce the election of a new pope, combines potassium chlorate, milk sugar (which serves as an … [Read more...]