Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Pope Lives in a Hotel? -- The Pope and the Papal Home

Layout of Pope’s Apartment: Hardly sumptuous.
by Claudia Jakober

(Vatican) People like Pope Francis. That is a grace for the Church. Yet the visibly staged shows of humility and meekness by the new Pope have not met with complete approval. They construct an unfair contrast, as if the Popes had not been humble. Just read the wills of deceased Popes gradually and note again the humility and frugality of Benedict XVI., who took advantage of the existing garments, as shown by the fact papal coat of arms can easily be seen.

More decisive than approval for some quick and easy modesty, is that the pope receives more obedience and opens the minds and hearts of the people for the comprehensive Christian message. In that case, if then only his recent decision were also to earn applause, not to collect on the Apostolic Palace, or papal apartment rather. The question of the usefulness of such demonstrative acts remain in the air.

Is it true that the new pope lives in the hotel?

I was recently asked this. The question was so surprising that I was on the verge of immediately responding with an indignant no. But I kept silent and it was better that way. It is really true that he lives in the hotel.

The Pope’s Office
But is it "better" when a pope lives in a hotel instead of his own house? The Pope still occupies the suite at Domus Sanctae Martæ that he had taken as a cardinal at the beginning of the conclave. These are the guest houses built by John Paul II in the Vatican and to a certain extent it is the hotel of the tiny enclave. I only really became aware of this, as has been reported after the papal election to an astonished public, that the new pope had initially paid the outstanding account in the guest house. The Cardinals have to pay for their accommodation during the conclave in the Vatican?

Apostolic Palace accessible mostly for public

The Apostolic Palace dates back to late antiquity. The oldest visible parts today originated in the Middle Ages. In its form known the world over was designed from 1508 to 1519 by Antonio da Sangallo. The extensive grounds include 1,400 rooms and halls that have been designed over the centuries by the greatest artists the world over by Raphael Michelangelo and Bramante to countless others.

Today in many parts of the palace are where the Vatican Museums housed and open to the public, so the general public, the Raphael Rooms, the home of Pope Alexander VI. Borgia and the famous Sistine Chapel. In the sprawling palace are also where a number of Vatican authorities and parts of the Roman Curia are housed, the Prefecture of the Apostolic Household soon to be occupied by recently appointed Curia Archbishop Georg Gänswein, director of the Office of the liturgical Celebrations of the Pope, Bishop Guido Marini, then the great Apostolic Library and especially the legendary Papal Secret Archives, with its nuclear bomb proof vaults.

The Apostolic Palace of the Vatican has been the official residence of the Pope in his capacity as head of the Church since the High Middle Ages. In contrast, the Papal Quirinal Palace was the residence of the Pope as head of state of the Papal States. After Italian troops had forcibly torn the Papal States from the pope, Italian Kings have have resided there since 1870. Since 1946, the Italian President's palace is in the Quirinal.
The Pope’s Bedroom

The part inhabited by the Popes in the Vatican Palace has varied over time. Parts can be viewed in the Vatican Museums. In more recent modern times, the popes lived in a part of the second floor in which Leo XIII as the last pope lived and died there. The rooms have not changed, but are not accessible. Pope St. Pius X. moved in 1903 to just above it rooms of the third floor. Here is where all of the Popes have lived and died since then till 28 February 2013, the resignation of Benedict XVI.

Only ten of 1400 spaces form private residence of the Pope - The chapel is half

What are the papal apartments, the new Pope rejects so ostentatiously? The apartment of the Pope consists of ten rooms: a hall /corridor, a small office for the papal secretaries, library/meeting room, a study for the Pope, a private chapel, which occupies most of the space, a bathroom, a doctor's office for emergencies a dining room, a small living room and kitchen (the illustration above shows the approximate condition of the apartment at the end of the pontificate of Pope John Paul II). In 2006 after decades of all of the electrical wiring and the kitchen had been renewed. In the 1930s, rooms connected to the Papal chambers included some small apartments which were created for members of the papal household. During the Pontifcates of Benedict XVI. there was an apartment at the disposal of his brother Georg.

The rooms are according to the standards of the 16th Century, quite spacious, but very modest, not to say the old-fashioned furnishings, because popes are not in fashion. Who would really like any of Benedict XVI.’s furniture? He took them in humility.

Papal apartment now reduced - the hotel has all improvised and provisional

After breaking the seal, which is mounted on the death of a pope (in the specific case, after inconceivable resignation of Benedict XVI.) to the papal apartment, upon being brought to the new aparemtns the new pope then explained that the chambers were too big. He remained in the guest house and the papal apartment was probably rebuilt to his specifications. The efficiency of Vatican artisans is well known. The renovation work has been completed since last week. The new landlord has now but changed his mind. He also doesn’t he want to move in the smaller apartment, but to stay in the hotel, where he receives his staff and guests as well as the state government of Argentina President Kirchner or the Jesuit Father General.

Is it cheaper to live in a hotel room than in their own homes? And the cost of renovations? For personal secretary, the papal secretary, other staff, including the security forces had rooms had to get settled in rooms at the Domus. Everything looks improvised, provisional, and so unsettled, as were the new pope only to be the temporary representative of Christ, or at least temporarily in Rome.

The Papacy needs continuity not activism 

Then there is the inevitable question of whether it is really appropriate that the Pope has his household in a hotel, where elsewhere in the Vatican all the appropriate facilities are available, which is now empty. He receives individuals and small groups in the guest house. Some guests of the Vatican live in quasi Suite to Suite with the head of the Catholic Church, who they visit. The Pope used the same general dining room every morning like the others in the house accommodated guests. This is almost has the closeness of a bosom friend but is it appropriate? What good do these things do, but convey the impression of an exalted activism?

What the Church needs is always a new form of preaching. John Paul II was a philosophical thinker. Benedict XVI. a theological thinker. Francis could rely primarily on new pastoral accents. Much would be gained if he would make sure that the documents of Vatican authorities would be implemented in generally accessible language. The Pope has to preserve and secure a haven of stability and continuity, and to be more so in a troubled, short-lived time as catechesis always needs a new translation into the language of the time.

Pope Benedict XVI. exuded dignity in his person. The poses of the people is different, just like people are different. You could see that even with the unusual, even strange encounter of two recent popes at Castel Gandolfo, which should offer no comparison.

Pope John Paul II was an extremely popular and accessible Pope, the Pope looked like no one before, in the proximity to the people. A closeness that Benedict XVI. because of his age, was never able to accompany. John Paul II always radiated near always a great inner dignity at a maximum, which is of particular importance to the office of the pope. Not the personality due to the incumbent, but the ex officio, as Vicar of Christ. Pope Francis still conveys the impression of a friendly village priest.

The Pope is a father, he is Christ's representation of the father of all believers, of all the baptized and the whole of humanity. He is the high priest, he manages the grace of mediating sacraments, he stands on the place of the only Savior and Redeemer, for which humanity thirsts longingly at all times. To him all people should and want to look up to him, because they sense something of the truth rising, accompanied by Christ and so many people, as the Scriptures reveal, perceived, even the blind when he came near them.

Domus Sanctae Martæ new Apostolic Palace?

That a head of state and the head of the Church of the largest religious group in the world is housed in a hotel, is indeed something new. The Apostolic Palace is now in a sense, the guest house of the Vatican. Because as Apostolic Palace is actually the building where the Pope lives.

Whether it is good or even better than the current system, should at least be questioned. And who is enthusiastic, ultimately, if I can tell someone that my Pope, the head of the church, whom Christ entrusted with the keys to heaven, for my and your dramatic life with all the ups and downs of our lives, now lives "out of humility" in a hotel.

Yes, that's something new. An ah-hah moment it is not. Is this not rather short-lived activism in an even more brief life, which gets quick applause and just as quickly forgotten? The Papacy, however, is timeless, eternal, until the end of time.

Translation: Tancred

Link to Katholisches...


Anonymous said...

Wasn't it Churchill's mother who moved out of her London house and into a suite in the London Ritz to save money?

Grateful not to be Novus Ordo said...

Why not stay at Motel 8? He is not humble. He is pretentious. Humble would be not putting on a show for the world to see. Humble is staying in the papal apartments and if he wanted to do penance he could sleep on the floor. Which, if he was truly humble, nobody would know of it until after his death.

There is nothing meek or modest about this misguided pope who puts on such a public display of false humility for all the world to see. The "Catholics" who have long ago traded their Catholic Faith for Communist ideology cannot stop crowing about their "humble pope" but those who can see clearly are embarrassed by the spectacle.

Anonymous said...

How terrible: someone imitating Christ and shunning luxury! Our Lord was homeless, would He accept the Vatican apartment?

Tancred said...

That apartment is hardly luxurious.

Anonymous said...

We need to get a handle on the word humility. Humility means to accept the truth, accept things for what they are. If one is Pope, then all this et. al. is what comes with being Pope. Glad Not To Be Novus Ordo was correct in his/her summation of this issue. The Holy Father carrying on with making a show of this *modesty* routine is narcissistic. Look it up. It's a person who is excessively preoccupied with issues of personal adequacy and needs to make a show of it.

Will the Holy Father go so far as to use a sleeping bag? How about eating off of paper plates with styrofoam cups? He wants to be "humble..."


bill bannon said...

You have to decide for the quality of your life for the next ten years or so if you are going to micro analyse Pope Francis and is God at your judgement going to approve of your spending ten years doing that. Continuity as a priority? Christ obviously did not have it to the recent past (but to David) when he allowed his men to pick grain on the Sabbath as they walked through a field nor did He have continuity when he told a cured man to carry his mat home on the Sabbath. Each of us must ask ourselves whether our present values would have made us arresters of Christ had we lived when He was doing such things.

Tancred said...

There’s no comparison between Christi’s or David's behavior and Pope Francis’. And you don’t need to be “micro analyzing” something to see that refusing his living quarters on the basis that they are luxurious when they’re clearly not, is hardly humble. It’s not even practical. After having expensive renovations done to his apartment to make them more humble, he decided not to move in, creating an observable inconvenience for his security staff and office support.

I wonder how much money it will cost his security detail to proof the hotel from electronic surveillance, assuming they’re not already outfitted for that.

Fr. John+ said...

I concur. In the Orthodox Church, overweening pride (even the pride at not being prideful- i.e., ostentatious, grandiose) is, in ITSELF, a form of pride.

The Russians call this 'prelest.' Reading about "Frank the First" I find his 'humility' a facade. It would be better if he just submitted himself to the office, and bore the cross he feels the Lord has laid upon him- even if it means wearing the tiara of threefold rule. But that, sadly, is what this pope, like the five before him, will not do. Truly, I would wish Rome to be the church of the Ages, but I think it sincerely desires to be merely the 'church of the [present] age.' Which is not the same thing...

Anonymous said...

Someone described his style as being a "Moral Exhibitionist"...Must admit that description has the ring of clarity and truth. Prior to be elected Pope, Cardinal Bergoglio, admitted that he was not a disciplined individual. He got that right for sure.

Anonymous said...

Pope Francis was selected by God to be YOUR spiritual leader; not you HIS.....

He is exactly what the world needs right now whether you approve of his style of papacy or choice of living quarters.

As Pope, those decisions are his to make not yours.

As for saving money, he is a leader in reforming Vatican financial and banking
practices when the established Papal tradition is to sweep such problems under the Papal carpet.

Tancred said...

You sound like an incensed hairdresser.

Anonymous said...

Its time Christians start representing Christianity. Its wrong to scrutinize Pope Francis on where he chooses to live inside the Vatican, which is his right. His Pap duty is to lead and be an example of compassion, love and humility, for the church, which he does gracefully. And the world is recognizing it.
There is no authority except by God's authority.
I urge that requests, prayers, intercession, and thanksgiving be made for everyone- for kings and all if those in authority.

Also, if people want to be a part of civilized society, under no circumstances should they use name calling to voice their opinion.

MorningStar said...

Quoting Pope Fracis' own words: "The residence in the Apostolic Palace is not luxurious. It is large and made with good taste, but not luxurious. But in the end it is like a funnel turned upside down. It is large, but the entrance is narrow. Only one person at a time can get in and I cannot live alone. I must live my life with others."

There is no point in make criticism to the pope. His rule and his decisions are legitimately condoned the Holy Spirit. So avoid commiting the sin of pride on your own thoughts and disobedience.

Tancred said...


Sybok said...


Sybok said...

"Pope Francis was selected by God to be YOUR spiritual leader; not you HIS.....:"

the bishop of rome isnt the daili lama, hes not a quasi divine reincarnation of an ancient sage, he is peter's successor, the same peter who denied Christ three times and who paul had to correct