Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The Word on Marini

Yesterday afternoon, I received an e.mail with a heads-up of "a high-profile admission to the Gemelli." No name was given and, as it was Rome dinnertime, it made finding anything out doubly difficult.

Hours later, Amy Welborn's Open Book reported as "rumor from across the sea" that Archbishop Piero Marini, the master of papal liturgical ceremonies, had been hospitalized after suffering a heart attack.

The speculation incited a wave of concern as friends and collaborators of the world's most famous MC, an academic liturgist known for his personal reserve, scrambled to find out if the rumor was, indeed, true. Marini, who turned 64 in mid-January, has been increasingly mindful of his health, keeping a strict diet regimen in recent years.

This morning, callers to the Office for Papal Liturgical Celebrations -- which Marini has headed since 1987 -- were being told that the master of ceremonies was out of the office. No report of a medical emergency has been published to date in the Italian press and, of course, there's been no statement from the Holy See.

Reports of a Marini health scare came to light on the same day that Liberta, a newspaper in his home-diocese of Piacenza, aired speculation that the lead ceremoniere was the in pectore cardinal named by John Paul II at the 2003 consistory but never published before the late pontiff's death.

Confronted with the question last week at the Milan presentation of his latest book, "Liturgia e bellezza," a study of the modern history of papal ritual, the publication said Marini seemed to be caught in "a moment of surprise."

"He smiled but, above all, he didn't deny it," Liberta reported.

A source in Rome related that the archbishop underwent an angioplasty which, so it's said, took place earlier today. The procedure is often employed where an arterial blockage exists, but is not at the point where bypass surgery is the sole feasible option. He is expected to return to work in a week or so.