Monday, April 18, 2005

 

Of rings and keys

The Papal ring of Pope John Paul II has been broken, in accord with ancient tradition, thus symbolizing that his pontificate is truly at an end. In the middle ages, the breaking of the Papal ring assured that no imposter could then affix the Papal seal to any forged documents. I would assume that the same still basically holds true--no one can today claim that the Pope gave them the ring as a sign of special favor, etc. Or worse, as a sign that some illegitimate child was in fact his. (And with that last one, I'm wondering how long it'll be before some person shows up claiming that Karol Wojtyla was in fact their father/grandfather/boyfriend thirteen times removed...As the process begins for his canonization, I have absolutely no doubt that such things will be claimed, because it seems that smearing the name of good people is definitely in fashion these days, especially if that person was/is Catholic.)

And today begins the Conclave, wherein the next Pope will be chosen. There was a solemn Mass this morning where the Cardinals asked for the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and they will then enter the Sistine Chapel for the first day of Conclave. Interesting trivia--the origins of Conclave, which literally means "with a key," lie in medieval times, when the Cardinals were having trouble electing a new Pope. In utter frustration the townspeople locked them in the building and eventually, in winter, tore the roof off and rationed the food in an attempt to get a choice made. It worked.

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