The Holy See
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16 April 2007


From my apartment I have a vantage point that lets me look out into St. Peter's Square. Every Sunday I am able to keep an appointment with the Holy Father's Angelus message and prayer just by stepping out on my terrace. It has become an appointment I try not to miss.

Over a year ago, shortly after moving into this apartment, I returning from an extended Sunday morning walk by riding home on the Metro A line. I was surprised by the number of parents with young children and babies in strollers on the train. My surprise continued when they all got off with me at the Ottaviano station and began their walk toward St Peter's Square.

Since then I have seen the crowds on Sunday mornings build steadily, as both Romans and visitors keep an appointment with the Pope's Sunday Angelus. What we hear, we Romans and visitors, strikes me as one of the fascinating features of Pope Benedict XVI’s papacy.

As soon as the noon camion shot sounds from the Janiculum Hill, and the bell of St. Peter's toll the noon hour, the Pope appears punctually at his fourth floor window in the Apostolic Palace. The themes he chooses for his Angelus message are dose to our everyday lives: perhaps a comment on the Sunday Gospel, or a catechesis about a feast day begin celebrated during the week, or remarks calling our attention to the needs of our brothers and sisters around the world, or a reminder about some Roman or worldwide Church initiative or program, or some combination of them.

I find his Angelus messages invariably brief, simple and thoughtful. They seem to me to create a bond of hope and joy among all of us. They invite us to contemplate Mary our Mother and her Divine Son in the mysteries of her Annunciation and his Incarnation, as we pray the Angelus with our Holy Father.

The Sunday Angelus has become an increasingly popular Sunday appointment, at least to this non-expert eye. It is often a festive occasion with a band or choir ready to offer some musical accompaniment to the gathering faithful, or to the Holy Father himself during his brief greetings to the various language groups.

The celebration of Pope Benedict's 80th birthday on the Sunday after Easter will provide all of us with the opportunity to join him for the Eucharist and the Angelus. I hope he knows how much we appreciate the appointment he keeps with us every Sunday at the Angelus, and how happy we are to pray with him and for him, as he in return calls upon God to bless us and our families with his Apostolic Benediction.

Happy Birthday, Holy Father! God bless you ad multos annos!


(L’Osservatore Romano, 16.04.2007).