Monday, February 25, 2013

A Look At the Conclave Guest House

Once before on this blog, I had mentioned that on a trip to Rome in 2010 I was privileged to stay at the Domus Sanctae Marthae in Vatican City.  This is the same guest house where the cardinal electors will be staying during the upcoming conclave.  Needless to say it was quite a thrill... a once in a lifetime experience.

When we drove through the gate into Vatican City and up to the door of the "Domus", as it's called, I had to pinch myself - it all seemed so unreal.  The guest house itself is very simple and matter of fact.  The rooms are small suites with a twin bed in one section and a desk and bookshelves on the other side.  Here are a couple of pictures of the room I had during my stay:




The main floor of the guest house is also rather spartan.  There are no seats in the lobby.  No real place to congregate and chat with one another.  Waiting for others in my little group was always done standing up.  Perhaps they did not want to impede the flow of traffic by putting chairs in the way.

Off of the lobby is a small chapel where daily Mass is offered by visiting prelates and also by some resident priests who work in the Vatican.  I guess those priests will have to find quarters elsewhere during the conclave.   Also adjoining the lobby is the dining room which was very busy every morning, afternoon and evening.  Different groups of bishops and clergy visiting the Vatican were constantly coming and going during our nine day stay.

One of the very high closets - definitely cassock length

A painting of Pope Benedict in the lobby

We were told that Pope John Paul II had the Domus constructed so that the Cardinal electors would have a comfortable place to stay during a Conclave.  The rooms certainly were comfortable, the meals were delicious and the location could not have been better.  The front door of the guest house is directly across from the back of St Peter's.  Each morning we walked into a back door of the basilica to attend Mass offered by the priest who was with our group.  I guess it won't be as convenient for the Cardinals since they will have to walk or be driven to the Sistine Chapel which is on the complete opposite side of the Vatican (but, maybe they know a shortcut!).

During our stay, I told myself that I would pray for the Cardinal who would be staying in that room during the next Conclave.  Little did I know that it would come so soon.  May that Cardinal and all of the other Cardinal electors be filled with the grace, peace and wisdom of the Holy Spirit as they come together in the coming days to elect our new pope.

View from front door of Domus looking toward
 Vatican gas station and Vatican train station

View of St. Peter's from front door of Domus
We'll miss you, Holy Father, but so grateful for  having you
for these past 8 years!

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