Sunday, November 21, 2010

Christ the King... and Lord of the Rings

At 9.30 today Rome time (3.30ET, 0830GMT) in St Peter's, B16 will preside at the Mass for this Christ the King Sunday (libretto/livestream), at which the 24 new cardinals will concelebrate and receive the ring that, alongside the biretta, is the symbol of their membership in the Pope's "Senate."

For centuries, the cardinalatial ring was comprised of a sapphire -- a stone reserved for the rank -- sometimes surrounded with diamonds, and traditionally with the coat of arms of the reigning pontiff carved on the inside. In the wake of the Council, however, alongside simplifying prelatial garb and, in particular, the elaborate ceremonies surrounding a new intake for the College, Paul VI's fondness for modern art saw the ring's form changed to a contemporary-style depiction of the Crucifixion tableau (left), which it remains today.

After the homily, the Pope will slip the band on the fourth finger of each cardinal's right hand, saying as he does: "Receive the ring from the hand of Peter, and know that with the love of the Prince of the Apostles, your love for the church is strengthened."

The liturgy brings the formal rites of the Consistory to a close. The Pope will receive all the pilgrims in a joint audience on Monday; beyond celebrating a customary Mass of Thanksgiving for the individual groups, some of the new cardinals will likely take possession of their titular churches over the coming days, but these days, most usually do within a six-month time-frame.

Above all, the burden of an added role in the papal mandate of governing the universal church awaits the neo-Porporati. Sometime over these next weeks, the new cardinals under age 80 will receive their respective assignments to membership on a handful of the Curial dicasteries, whose work and decisions they'll be involved in... on top of their day jobs.

PHOTOS: Archdiocese of Boston(2); Getty(3)