In those days, as the number of disciples grew, the so-called Hellenists complained against the so-called Hebrews, because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. So the Twelve summoned the whole body of disciples together and said, “It is not right that we should neglect the word of God to serve at tables. So, friends, choose from among yourselves seven respected men full of Spirit and wisdom, that we may appoint them to this task. As for us, we shall give ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the Word.”
The whole community agreed and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and Holy Spirit; Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenus, and Nicolaus of Antioch who was a proselyte. They presented these men to the Apostles who first prayed over them and then laid hands upon them.
The Word of God continued to spread, and the number of the disciples in Jerusalem increased greatly and even many priests accepted the faith.
Stephen said, “But you are a stubborn people, you hardened your hearts and closed your ears. You have always resisted the Holy Spirit just as your fathers did. Was there a prophet whom your ancestors did not persecute? They killed those who announced the coming of the Just One whom you have now betrayed and murdered, you who received the Law through the angels but did not fulfill it.”
When they heard this reproach, they were enraged and they gnashed their teeth against Stephen. But he, full of the Holy Spirit, fixed his eyes on heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus at God’s right hand, so he declared, “I see the heavens open and the Son of Man at the right hand of God.”
But they shouted and covered their ears with their hands and rushed together upon him. They brought him out of the city and stoned him, and the witnesses laid down their cloaks at the feet of a young man named Saul. As they were stoning him, Stephen prayed saying : “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”
Then he knelt down and said in a loud voice : “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he died. Saul was there, approving his murder. This was the beginning of a great persecution against the Church in Jerusalem.
Stephen, full of grace and power, did great wonders and miraculous signs among the people. Some persons then came forward, who belonged to the so-called Synagogue of Freedmen from Cyrene, Alexandria, Cilicia and Asia. They argued with Stephen but they could not match the wisdom and the Spirit with which he spoke.
As they were unable to face the truth, they bribed some men to say, “We heard him speak against Moses and against God.” So they stirred up the people, the elders and the teachers of the Law; they took him by surprise, seized him and brought him before the Council.
Then they produced false witnesses who said, “This man never stops speaking against our Holy Place and the Law. We even heard him say that Jesus the Nazarean will destroy our Holy Place and change the customs which Moses handed down to us.”
And all who sat in the Council fixed their eyes on him, and his face appeared to them like the face of an angel.
Today, Tuesday, 19 March 2013, our new Pope will be solemnly inaugurated to begin his Pontificate. He is already our Pope, ever since he accepted the rightful election in the Conclave, but the Inauguration ceremony affirms and completes that process, with the imposition of the symbols of the authority of the Pope, as the leader of the entire Universal Church.
There will be some changes to the liturgy this year, as the imposition of the Pallium and the Ring of the Fisherman will take place just before the Mass starts, instead of being within the Mass itself, as the impositions are seen as more of an extra-liturgical event.
The Pope will pray with the leaders of the Eastern Catholic Churches, the Patriarchs and Major Archbishops at the Tomb of St. Peter underneath the main altar of St. Peter’s Basilica, where the pallium and the ring had been placed since the night before.
The Pope will then proceed with all the other concelebrating Cardinals and prelates outside to the Altar at St. Peter’s Square, which in the meanwhile the Laudes Regia hymn or ‘Laud to the King (Christ)’, that is a glorious rendition of the Litany of the Saints, with the new innovation of the inclusion of part asking the past Popes who had been canonised as saints for the new Pope, their successor, beginning from Pope St. Linus to Pope St. Pius X.
Following after this is the imposition of the papal pallium, which is different from the pallium worn by the Metropolitan Archbishops. Pope Francis’ pallium will be the same in appearance with that of Pope Benedict XVI’s pallium, with red crosses instead of black ones, representing the wounds of Christ, with three gold pins on three of the crosses, representing the nails that bound both hands and the legs of Christ onto the cross. The pallium symbolises the authority the Pope has over the entire Universal Church. The pallium will be imposed by the senior Cardinal of the order of Priest in the Cardinal-electorate, Cardinal Godfried Danneels.
The Ring of the Fisherman will be given after this, which signifies the bond between the Pope and God’s Church, and as the image on the ring depicts, that of St. Peter holding the keys on a boat, while fishing, as a fisher of man, it symbolises the Pope’s role as the successor of St. Peter the Apostle, and also as the current holders of the keys of the kingdom of Heaven, entrusted by Christ to Peter. The ring will be presented to the Pope by the senior Cardinal Deacon, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran.
Six Cardinals representing the rest of the Cardinals will pay homage to the Pope, and will give their obedience to him, following the imposition of the pallium and the Ring of the Fisherman.
The Mass follows as usual, and the readings will be done in different languages, English, Spanish, and most notably the Gospel in Greek, to highlight the universal nature of the Church, encasing both the Western and Eastern tradition of Christendom. The whole liturgy of the Mass itself will be conducted in solemn Latin and beautiful Gregorian chants.
The booklet for the Mass is available at the link below, in English, Italian, and Latin :
The Ninth General Congregation of the College of Cardinals have been concluded this Saturday morning, 9 March 2013, and as the date of the beginning of the Conclave came closer (Tuesday, 12 March 2013), Fr. Federico Lombardi, head of the Holy See Press Office clarifies certain matters involving the sede vacante period and the upcoming Conclave.
The Conclave will be preceded by a Solemn Mass for the Election of the Roman Pontiff or the Missa pro Eligendo Pontifice/Papa on Tuesday morning, 12 March 2013 in St. Peter’s Basilica, and then on the same day, Tuesday, in the afternoon, the Cardinals will proceed into the Sistine Chapel to officially begin the Conclave.
The famous chimney which will release the signal whether a new Pope had been elected, had been installed on the roof of the Sistine Chapel on Friday morning, after long work by the technicians in the installing the two stoves where the ballots will be burned after the ballots, and the chimney itself, linked directly to the stoves inside the Sistine Chapel.
The Ring of Fisherman, two papal stamps bearing the image of the Ring of the Fisherman, and the master lead seal, also bearing the Ring’s image, which is used for major documents, have been decommissioned by defacement of the Ring’s image, and therefore while the Ring of the Fisherman has not been completely destroyed,
A commission has been created to ensure that the Conclave has indeed been sealed entirely from the outside world, with no external portal of entry and ensuring that no one tampers with the seal of the Conclave until a new Pope had been elected. Strong frequency and signal jammers had also been installed to prevent any wiretapping and bugging of the Sistine Chapel and the areas where the Cardinals will reside throughout the Conclave.
It is noted that if the Conclave has not been successful to elect a new Pope after three full days (a new Pope can only be elected if he receives more than two-thirds of all the votes of the Cardinal-electors, or 77 votes), the voting sessions will be adjourned for a day of prayer and reflection, so that in the event of the upcoming voting sessions, the Cardinals can gain a new inspiration of the Holy Spirit and therefore hopefully elect a new Pope as soon as possible.
The Motu Proprio released earlier by Pope Benedict XVI in 2007 has modified the rules of the election as written in the Apostolic Constitution Universi Dominici Gregis, as it no longer allows the Cardinal-electors to revert to an absolute majority system once a certain number of days have passed (many days), and the Motu Proprio once again made the election of the new Pope by two-thirds majority alone.
The bells of St. Peter’s Basilica and also the other bells of the churches throughout Rome will also be rung once the new Pope had been elected, just as they were in 2005 conclave, to reinforce and affirm the white smoke signal released through the chimney of the Sistine Chapel.
About 45 minutes or more may pass between the election of the new Pope and his appearance on the Loggia or the balcony of the St. Peter’s Basilica, as there are rites that the new Pope had to go through in the time between, beginning with the acceptance of the election, the entry into the Room of Tears where the Pope will change into his new white Papal cassock, and then homage from all the Cardinals, and of course the announcement of the Habemus Papam by the Cardinal Protodeacon, Jean-Louis Tauran himself, before the new Pope will make his appearance on the balcony.