Monday, February 27, 2006

THE CONSISTORY: Back to the Nervi

The Office for Papal Liturgical Celebrations announced this morning that the 24 March public consistory at which Benedict XVI will create 15 new cardinals will return to the Paul VI Audience Hall. It begins at 10.30am Rome time and takes place in the context of the Liturgy of the Word.

The last consistory to be held in the cavernous space, which seats 6,000, was in 1994. Those of 1998, 2001 and 2003 were held in St. Peter's Square.

On the following morning, the solemnity of the Annunciation, the Mass of the Rings will be held in the Vatican Basilica. The new cardinals will be the sole concelebrants alongside the Pope.

The continuance of one of the most charming consistory traditions was also announced this morning. On the evening of consistory day, the new cardinals, wearing the red choir cassock, take up places in the salons of the Apostolic Palace to receive any visitors who wish to offer their congratulations. It has the feel of one big party as well-wishers move from room to room for photos, blessings -- and, for some, comparing notes. The visitations will take place from 4.30 to 6.30 on the afternoon of the 24th.