Friday, April 13, 2007

The Octogenarian's Bonus

The Pope's returned from his post-Triduum breather at Castel Gandolfo, and everything's a go for another cycle of celebration at the Vatican... with another curtailed workweek for the Roman Curia.

As you know, Benedict XVI marks his 80th birthday on Monday, and the employees of the Holy See are getting the day off. This usually doesn't happen -- the holiday customarily observed in Rome is the onomastico, or saint's day, of the reigning pontiff; e.g. in the reign of John Paul II, Karol Wojtyla's name-feast of St Charles Borromeo on 4 November was the designated feast. As the 19 March observance of Joseph Ratzinger's baptismal patron is already a holy day of obligation in Vatican City, the Vatican's workforce lost a holiday, which led to the type of grousing you'd find in any office in light of said development.

The anniversary of a Pope's election also spurs a Vatican shutdown, so the offices will be closed again next Thursday, the 19th, to celebrate Benedict's reign as it enters its third year. In addition to the birthday holiday on Monday, all employees of the Holy See will receive a €500 (US$677) bonus to mark the pontiff's milestone.

Preparations continue for Sunday morning's open-air Mass of Thanksgiving for both of the week's events, and the Vatican website invites the church and the world to send felicitations to the Birthday Boy.