You Never Know When the Pope Will Show Up and Say Mass…UPDATED

..if you are anywhere near Saint Martha’s House (Domus Sanctæ Marthæ), that is. This is one of those cases where the photographs arrive before the backstory*.

He didn’t just sneak in and worship in the back row, though. He celebrated the Mass too…

I would have loved to have heard his homily.

someone is shooting video…

If this isn’t living the “sacrament of the present moment,” nothing is.

I’d be over there on the St. Joseph’s side…

Speaking of  Sacraments,

“…it will become our spiritual drink.”

Thanks be to God.

Photo Source.


H/T Salt +  Light Media,

The Pope’s Mass with Vatican gardeners and cleaners

“When we have a heart of stone it happens that we pick up real stones and stone Jesus Christ in the person of our brothers and sisters, especially the weakest of them.” Pope Francis said this, commenting on the day’s Readings during the Mass he celebrated on Friday morning in the Chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae.

It was a simple celebration to which the Pope invited employees of the garden and cleaning services of the Governorate of Vatican City State. He gave them a brief homily, focused in particular on the Gospel passage of John which recounts the episode of the Jews who wanted to stone Jesus.

Read all about it.


History being made right here, right now.

  • Catholic @BarbaraKB (@CatholicMeme)

    Wow. We cannot get enough pictures of our new Holy Father in action, can we?

    • Frank Weathers

      We cannot! :)

  • Neal


    Happy days are here again!

  • Maggie

    So far it’s been all about style and no substance. And the humility schtick is getting very tiresome.

    • Frank Weathers

      I don’t think so. Did you see the update?

      • Maggie

        And this proves what? Has no Pope before ever celebrated a Mass for them?

    • Scotty

      Yeah, about those pictures:
      1. Vestments are much too plain.
      2. Flowers don’t belong on the altar.
      3. Only TWO candles?
      4. Pope Francis doesn’t look fervent enough.
      5. The Pope’s homily didn’t mention the stones priests throw at Jesus Christ when they offer irreverent Novus Ordo Masses.
      6. Congregation should have worn dark suits & ties or dresses for a Papal Mass. Bright orange jackets are very distracting and draw too much attention to oneself.

      Yep. Definitely no substance to any of this Pope’s “humility.” When will he get the message that thrones and tiaras and gold vestments are what the Church needs today more than ever?

      • Romulus

        Scotty, no liturgical nitpicker would complain about the presence of “just” two candles in this case. That is entirely correct.

        Some people take a relativistic approach to liturgy, supposing that liturgy is an aesthetic exercise and therefore entirely subject to personal sentiment which no one has a right to criticize by appealing to objective standards. They are mistaken. There is such a thing as “ars celebrandi”, which priests do well to cultivate, but there is also positive law. As supreme legislator, a pope may dispense from liturgical law any time he pleases. But it would be a bad idea, and certainly no indicator of humility on his part.

    • Molly

      Mother Teresa would totally agree with you.

  • Joan

    Wow Maggie…just wait and see. You really don’t know the Jesuits and you really don’t know how humble this man truly is….he truly is humble…HUMBLE is style and substance.

  • Andy Milam

    This really is getting to be too much. I think that it is time that those who are responsible for the Holy Father start handling him properly. This isn’t about his personal style any longer. He isn’t just Jorge Bergoglio, he is Francis and that has to be taken into account; and in my very humble opinion has not happened yet. Pauperism is never a replacement for noble simplicity and someone needs to tell him that too.

    The Holy Father is responsible for all of the Church, not only the poor and workers. He also is responsible for the patrimony and that is being neglected at the moment. I am not suggesting that he stop being kind to the poor, but rather I am suggesting that he start ministering to his entire flock, as opposed to only the lowliest. Christ didn’t just eat with the poor and destitute either, you know…when Mary came to wash his feet with her tears, he was dining with the rich. He didn’t rebuke Simon the Pharisee for being rich. In short, Christ didn’t expect Simon to give up all of his worldly goods, just to understand that it all matters, both the rich and the poor, when it comes to faith.

    The moral, don’t miss the forest for one tree. The Church is big enough for all.

    • Ed

      “Woe to you who are rich, you have had your consolation.” Or, more positively, “Go, sell what you have and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

      The so-called “prosperity gospel” is one of the most vile heresies of our age. Read and re-read the true Gospel.

  • Veronica

    Maggie, I don’t know what you mean about no substance. Have you really been listening our Holy Father’s homilies? Really listening? They may be short, but straight to the point and sharp as a two edge sword. I’m still pondering what he said on his very first homily “walk with Christ, build the Church, confess Jesus Crucified.”

  • Linda Rupert

    How can anyone say there is no substance? If there was no substance to what Pope Francis is doing, then the “style” would not be any different from any other pope. Cardinals don’t ride the bus when they can take limos if they have no substance. Substance gives birth to the style, and you can tell a lot about a person’s substance just by watching their “style”.

    BTW…I just love Francis…I think he’s going to make a great pope.

    • Steve

      Linda, amen to everything you’ve said here. A loud and enthusiastic Amen!

  • Tim in Cleveland

    What I find most admirable in those pictures is that the Pope doesn’t sit right next to you when there are a bunch of empty seats around. I like my space during Mass.

  • Romulus

    Why are there flowers on the altar? Seriously: since when is the altar to be instrumentalized for decoration? How does the introduction of gratuitous clutter promote “noble simplicity”?

    • Brenda

      “a gratuitous clutter” of flowers, much like expensive perfume oil for feet, is something Judas would not tolerate … but Jesus knew the “gift” of honor that was being bestowed upon him. I guess it just depends upon one’s perspective.

      • Yae

        I think it may be possible someone gifted those flowers to Papa Francis but who knows? I will not presume to know unlike so many of the negative posters herein. Viva Papa Francis!

      • Romulus

        Actually, no Brenda, this is not a question of perspective. It is a matter of law. Flowers do not belong on the altar. It is a liturgical abuse. It is specifically forbidden in GIRM 305. Moreover, it being Lent, there should be no flowers in the sanctuary at all. This also is a matter of law. It is disappointing and distressing that the Holy Father should sanction practices explicitly forbidden by the liturgical books. He has a duty to set a good example. I fear we are in for a time of trashy, free-for-all 70s liturgies.

  • Deacon Sean Smith

    I guess I neither have enough humility within me, nor experience it much around me, that I should tire of it in 9 days. Lead the way, Pope Francis!

    And I guess he didn’t send an advance team to make sure the altar was worthy of his noble simplicity. If that sounds ridiculous, it should. If it doesn’t sound ridiculous, keep reading it until it does.

  • frjimt

    Scorn from the right & soon, when he speaks truth, the left…. Talk about white martyrdom. Get a life for those who see problems instead of possibilities….

    • Yae

      I agree as it is so divisive and makes those on the so-called “right” look ugly and lacking the gift of charity. I cannot understand why they cannot see the true simplicity of his love for us all, for the Church and above all for Christ and the Virgin. What is consoling is the fact that there are so many more who will be moved to conversion (I pray) as they seek to follow Papa Francis, who in turn, will lead them to Christ. That matters more to me than anything else the naysayers could ever toss at him. He may suffer for that but I will stand with him with my prayers and my love.

    • Romulus

      Fr Jim, Deacon Smith, et al.:

      305. Moderation should be observed in the decoration of the altar.
      During Advent the floral decoration of the altar should be marked by
      a moderation suited to the character of this time of year, without expressing
      in anticipation the full joy of the Nativity of the Lord. During Lent it is
      forbidden for the altar to be decorated with flowers.
      Exceptions, however,
      are Laetare Sunday (Fourth Sunday of Lent), Solemnities, and Feasts.
      Floral decoration should always show moderation and be arranged
      around the altar rather than on the altar table.

      306. For only what is required for the celebration of the Mass may be
      placed on the altar table
      : namely, from the beginning of the celebration
      until the proclamation of the Gospel, the Book of the Gospels; then from
      the Presentation of the Gifts until the purification of the vessels, the chalice
      with the paten, a ciborium, if necessary, and, finally, the corporal, the
      purificator, the pall, and the Missal.

      • celvin maj foroma

        eish…flowers,candle etc.those thing are useless.this time you are wastng u should be praying

    • Bob D in NY

      Amen to that, I love Pope Francis. He is clearly showing how to live the Gospel. Humility, Love, Truth, and Charity for the poor, sick and those in prison. I hope that he will embolden the clergy while he brings reform. Pray for Pope Francis.

  • Charlene

    BIG note to self: “Pray away your agenda.”

    (By the way: I love the new Holy Father and I loved the emeritus Holy Father. What’s not to like about either one?)

  • Frank Weathers

    May I suggest folks ponder the Readings for today?

  • Scotty

    First a humble garbageman Mass. Now Bergoglio will continue to confuse the faithful though his highly publicized upcoming humble “HOLY THURSDAY” Mass in a Roman youth prison!

    The Holy Father offering a Triduum Mass in a prison sends the COMPLETELY WRONG message to the faithful. Absolutely no one will look upon that Holy Mass as the unbloody sacrifice of Calvary nor recall the institution of the sacred Priesthood. Instead, the novel rubric of washing feet – which itself has no sacramental value – will become the focal point of the MOST HOLY SACRIFICE of the Mass.

    People may “oohhh” and “ahhh” over the photos of humble Pope Francis washing and kissing criminals’ feet and forget about it days later. But who would forget Pope Francis, adorned in glorious vestments appropriate to His Holiness’ Petrine stature, offering the Unblemished Lamb in the splendor of the Tridentine Mass at the High Altar of St. Peter’s, surrounded by art inspired by God Himself and accompanied by the magnificent chants of Maundy Thursday?

    The poor and imprisoned will be with us always. Pope Francis could offer the Most Holy Sacrifice at any prison during the Easter Octave (or better during Advent or Lent – the seasons of repentance being most appropriate for a congregation of criminals). The Paschal Triduum is too important to the Church for the Pope to experiment with it for his own self-centered humility agenda!

    • Frank Weathers

      Nelson, you might consider that your comments are pretty disrespectful of the Holy Father. Perhaps putting this in terms of “Honor thy father and mother” might be helpful here.

      You know, Father John Zuhlsdorf has seen fit to reconsider his knee-jerk response to the Holy Father’s decision to say Mass at the prison. Perhaps you should too. From the UPDATE to this post,

      Apparently the Mass of the Last Supper was to be at the Vatican Basilica. Perhaps this was because Francis had not formally taken possession of his Cathedral, St John Lateran. That throws a new dimension into his decision. Since he wasn’t going to be at the Lateran anyway, why not…

      P.S. Consider this your warning about running afoul of my comment policy.

  • Yae

    I enjoyed those photos and I bet those folks who were in attendance at that Mass will never be the same again. What a blessing. The Mass Papa Francis celebrated for the gardeners as they toil God’s green earth, may it edify them and encourage them to live their faith with joy and wonder.
    I know in time, Papa Francis may very well have his desire to be among God’s people, close up, curtailed but it all remains to be seen.
    I am praying for all who are so negative and uncharitable towards our new Holy Father. I have no need to elaborate as to who these folks are since their posts here and on other sites, well, they speak loud and clear.
    Holy Mother Mary, protect your little son, Papa Francis. Keep him under your holy mantle safe and consoled, since like your divine son, our Lord Jesus Christ, he may bring the Good News to all who are open and accepting. Amen!

  • Scotty


    Like my comment at 11:44am, I’m illustrating the ridiculousness of too many Catholics in comboxes across the blogosphere. Like Mel Brooks once said, the best way to deal with ridiculous people is to show their ridiculousness to their face.

    I wish more bloggers would be more like you – very forthright about what constitutes disrespect. As for Francis, he had me from “buonasera!”

  • Maureen

    Wow — have you actually read your own comments? What most of you need is some time alone with God. I honestly believe that you wouldn’t even be happy if Christ Himself stood before you.

    • Nancy

      I absolutely agree with you, Maureen.

      • celvin maj foroma

        pliz guyz u are wastin time please pray.rosary or something

  • Linda Rupert

    I’m sorry, Scotty, but your criticism and derision of Pope Francis celebrating Mass in a prison sounds uncomfortably like the same criticism that the Pharisees and church leaders had of Jesus…just before the crucified him. Was He not also condemned because He hung around with prisoners, lepers, tax collectors and all the riff-raff of His time? How can we then, in turn, criticize His representative on earth for behaving exactly as Jesus did?

    The sad thing is that all the people who are criticizing Pope Francis for all the different things he is doing, would be the first to criticize him for NOT being different if he chose to be like every other Pope.

    I am sorry for you woundedness and pain and I am sorry that it prevents you from seeing that there is still some good in this world.

  • Olga

    I am so happy to have a Pope who is bringing us back to how Jesus, the highest Priest, lived among us. Jesus did not change who he was when he was with rich or poor, He did not wear richly vestments even when He was with the rich. He criticized those who dressed up lavishly and expected reverence from others. I am sure Jesus is happy that this Pope is truly living like He did. Anyway, Pope Francis is celebrating Mass with his employees. These are people who work for him. It is at one of the chapels in the Vatican. Is a chapel less worthy than a basilica? What gives value to any church temple is that Jesus is present in the Holy Eucharist within it. Surely enough we are not going to decorate it like a circus or anything like that, but simplicity is not contrary to it’s value. Otherwise, I suppose Jesus would not have been born in a stable nor slept in a manger, nor lived in Nazareth instead of the great capital of Jerusalem. Pope Francis, please stay like you are and keep listening to the Holy Spirit. I thank you, dear Pope Francis, because you have helped me in these days to deepen into the Lenten readings and to confront difficulties within the spirit that Jesus calls us to live them.

    • Frank Weathers

      The Pope Emeritus brought us back to Jesus too, and as did his predecessors. Fr. Dwight Longenecker has a good post about this up at Aleteia. Here is a snippet,

      How amazingly providential, then, that we now have two popes: Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict! Pope Benedict following the Benedictine way by retiring to a life of prayer, study and work, while Pope Francis steps on to the world stage to live the life of activity, reform and renewal. The two popes are meeting today, and I am convinced that when Pope Benedict moves to his hermitage in the Vatican, the two of them will meet on a regular basis to support one another as brothers in arms.

      Finally, there is a lesson for the whole Church in the two popes: we all need to run on the path of God’s commandments on these two legs: the contemplative and the active. We desperately need more time in prayer, more time in contemplation, more time with God. Then we also desperately need to get up off our knees and move forward to not only “talk the talk” but to “walk the walk” in the great adventure of following Christ the Lord.

      Read the whole piece.

      • Yae

        I read said article and loved it. I am glad Fr. Dwight has shared his thoughts with us all on such truths.

  • Scotty

    Linda, I couldn’t agree with you more – see my comment from 1:14pm. Your words are sadly true for too many Catholics, several of whom are my close friends. My satirical comment at 12:40pm closely mirrors a long conversation (more like argument) I had with a longtime friend yesterday. She actually said, “Pope Francis can offer Mass at a prison anytime. Why choose Holy Thursday?” Are you kidding me??!!!

  • Linda Rupert

    Scotty, I apologize, I did not see your post at 12:40, neither did I realize that it was satirical. However, you are right, there are so many Catholics who do feel that way. It saddens me.

  • Yae

    @ Scotty:
    Agreed…if we are zeroed in on only one aspect of what our new Holy Father does or does not do, wears or does not wear, well, I think it is sad. If he were to go off on the important treasures of the faith, that of faith and morals, I would be first in line to complain but since he has only ever celebrated Mass with great reverence and respect, in my humble opinion, I do not wish to miss anything he has to say as he leads many more to Christ.
    There have been some fine articles written today, on NEW, that have confirmed what I have suspected from the start of Papa Francis’s pontificate, he is a man of the Church, a man of truth and of holiness, he stands and has always stood with Papa Benedict and he will not be defined by anyone’s opinion.
    If one wants to understand him better rather than spend time dissecting everything he does or does not do, do yourself a favor (those in the negative camp) and read and pray and learn!
    One such comment form one of John Allen’s articles said it all:
    “For those tempted to draw an overly sharp distinction between Pope Francis and his predecessor, the new pope offered a clear reminder Friday that he may have a different style than Benedict XVI, but on substance, he’s cut from much the same cloth.”

  • Deacon Sean Smith

    Thank you, Romulus, for quoting documents with which I am well familiar, and adding your own emphases without acknowledgment.

    Now, how about the document that says how the Holy Father should have handled the situation? Wait, you mean there isn’t one?

    Sure, he could have gone in there and started taking stuff off the altar and throwing it into the garbage, and castigating people for violating the GIRM. But then he’d probably receive your wrath for not having maintained an appropriate silence in the sanctuary. What’s a pope to do?

    I am not glad there were flowers, but I am glad that, in spite of the flowers, Jesus Christ was made truly and substantially for those present.

    • Romulus

      Well Deacon, let me get right to the point. Either we want the kind of pope who takes charge and gets things straightened out, or else we want an easygoing fellow who’s glad to be led by the last person who’s spoken with him. I thought there was a consensus out there that a straight-talking HF would do a lot of good right now. Perhaps I was mistaken. But in any case, life is about choices. No one is suggesting the pope throw his weight around and humiliate those who mean well. That’s not how a good father behaves. But neither does a good father turn a blind eye when correction and improvement are called for.

      Something else about good fathers: they know themselves, their strengths and weaknesses, and are not too proud to seek the best help available for their children’s sake. Pope Francis is a devout man, and we all rejoice at that. He loves the Mass and knows how important it is. But liturgy is not private devotion; it is something that belongs to the entire Church, a fortiori when the Universal Pastor is celebrant. A pope’s ars celebrandi is far more closely watched than that of a cardinal, even if he’s a metropolitan archbishop. The example he sets has global consequences. He has MCs not just to manage complex ceremonies but also to keep him from confusing the faithful by inadvertently sending unintended signals, such as that liturgical law is not to be taken seriously or else can be set aside by big shots at their whim.

      Which brings me to my conclusion: the romantic sentimentalist in each of us is charmed by the pope’s informality and spontaneity. Maybe also a bit flattered, no? But when you’re the pope, a habit of charming spontaneity can get you into unforeseen, awkward, or uncontrolled situations. The pope is humble so he doesn’t call upon Msgr. Marini to micro-manage a chapel’s setup for daily mass. He doesn’t want to trample people’s feelings, so he doesn’t sweep the flowers out of sight. The price of his humility and good manners is not cheap however, if the message being sent is that liturgy can be reformulated to what we think it should be. The pope also wants to be close to his flock, but how would we feel if some nut were to get close enough to harm him — and how fair is it to burden his security men, charged with his protection, with this worry?

      When you are the pope, you are no longer your own man. You are not a rock star but a servant. Our Lord put it best: “Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go.” When Pope Francis takes this to heart, his humility will truly shine.

      • Deacon Sean Smith

        No one appears to be “confused”, just indignant. And it was the confused that tended to stay close to Jesus, trying to understand, while the indignant turned away, satisfied in their own understandings.

        And regarding your quote from Scripture, I think it is most apropos regarding Pope Francis, given the way he’s being “crucified”. I’m sure he would have hoped it be for something more than a flower arrangement, but those stretching out his hands have made their decision.

        Feel free to respond as you wish. I won’t be replying.

        • Romulus

          Deacon, if you don’t think anyone’s confused, about liturgy and more, you haven’t been paying attention the past 50 years. And as wonderful as it would be to stay close to Jesus face to face, in this world we do so in the Eucharist and through his vicar. Which is why it’s particularly important that the Eucharist be celebrated with faithfulness and integrity, and that the Lord’s vicar promote this.

          It’s not about the flowers. It’s about the altar. It’s about obedience. It’s about our need for the Holy Father to be a father.

          I won’t be replying.

          Yes, I’d say one of us is indignant.

  • James

    To tell you the truth it is enough for me!… I’m sorry, Scotty, but your interventions are not satirical. You are dropping poison at every word. Why are you a barrel full of bitterness? I hope that God helps you to find the joy and the happiness!

    • Frank Weathers

      Scotty is doing fine now.

  • Eileen McDonaugh

    Praise God our beloved Pope is a real human being just like Jesus was a real human being!

  • Deacon Sean Smith

    I’m just following Jesus’ command from Matthew 10:14.

    • Romulus

      Best wishes for Holy Week and Easter.

      • Deacon Sean Smith

        And to you as well!

  • Lora

    People seem to either really love Pope Francis or else really be concerned about him.
    What many people seem to forget is that the holy spirit guides in the selection of the pope, and if you cannot trust the holy spirit, who or what can you trust?
    It is also surprising to my that so many people are forgetting one of the Catholic teachings, which is to NEVER talk badly about a priest, even if it is true. It is best instead to turn to God with your concerns, because He is the only one that can do anything about it anyway.
    Pope Francis, just like every pope, needs everyone to pray for him. This is the only way to keep unity in the church.

  • Mitchell

    Discerning all this stuff is quite interesting. The stance this Pope has taken in the past gives me hope. He is very Orthodox. He is very much like Jesus. I am still watching and praying. The adherence to GIRM etc., or lack there of and the attacks for not doing it is very reminicient of Jesus and the Pharisees.