Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Cardinal Arinze came to town

Yes, my fave Vatican offical (after da Pope) came to town a couple of weeks ago. Yes, I'm slow about posting exciting news. Just been too darn busy (or lazy).

He presided at Mass at the cathedral (a couple days after we made our pilgrimage there). We only found out about it because we were there on pilgrimage. (Yet another reason to go on pilgrimages more often).

It was marvelous to see Cardinal Arinze up close and personal and hear him laugh heartily with some families after Mass. Unfortunately, we weren't able to personally greet him afterwards as he was whisked away just as we made it to the head of the line.

My husband happened to be in Rome on the day of his consistory, May 25, 1985; that day there were 28 men elevated to the position of Cardinal. My husband was there because a former Navy Chief of Chaplains, John O'Connor, was being made Cardinal that day and the Navy chaplains at the base in Naples where he was stationed, had some tickets to the consistory. They all put on their Navy whites and drove up to Rome for the ceremony.

To this day, the part my husband remembers most clearly is the arrival of the Nigerian delegation. They processed around Vatican square before the ceremony began, beating large drums while carrying huge elephant tusks and blowing a ceremonial horn with a retinue of priests and nuns chanting and swaying to the drum beat as they went along. The Italians went crazy with cheers when they saw the joyful party pass by and no one seemed to notice the smart looking Navy men in their dress whites. But everyone knew the Nigerian delegation had arrived.

In case you haven't read Cardinal Arinze's bio, he was baptized at the age of nine, by the first Nigerian to be beatified, Bl. Michael Tansi. I kept thinking about that when I saw Cardinal Arinze...here is a man who was baptized by a blessed of the Church, who will probably someday be a canonized saint on the Roman calendar. Cardinal Arinze may be a canonized saint someday as well. And we will tell our kids and grandkids about his hearty laugh and the huge elephant tusks.

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