Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Redbirds Take Flight

Well, that was quick – between the expected lower turnout of the veteran cardinals and the short biglietto (literally, the papal "ticket" granting a prelate entry into the College) at this intake, the Consistory was over and done and B16 whisked out within an hour flat. (Above, Cardinal Ruben Salazar Gomez of Bogotá is shown after receiving his red hat.)

It remains to be heard whether everybody who came for the rites actually made it into St Peter's this time; should that have come to pass, it'd be a first since the Consistories returned indoors from the Square outside in 2007. Either way, despite the traditional enjoinders against piping up, today's crowd was considerably more lively than its recent predecessors, which seemed to reflect the Pope's repeatedly-stated aim this time of infusing a beleaguered Vatican with a shot of the "church of Pentecost" – "the polyphony of the various voices, rais[ing] a single harmonious song to the living God."

Their induction now complete, the new cardinals break for lunch and receptions with their own groups before returning behind the walls at 4pm for the traditional evening "courtesy visits" to the newly-elevated members – the only occasion for which the state rooms of the Apostolic Palace are open to the general public. Always a colorful moment as the fresh crop of scarlet meets the sumptuous backdrop and all sorts of characters mill about (above), the ritual meet-and-greet runs 'til 6.30. 

The marathon day ends with a round of dinners before another early start tomorrow as the new class concelebrates Mass with Benedict at 9.30. The official celebrations end Monday as the pilgrimage groups close out their stay with a private papal audience.

PHOTOS: Reuters