The Diocese of Des Moines
The Pastors of Reform and Renewal: Pope John XXIII, Part 2
December 13, 2013
Written By: Kyle Lechtenberg

We're continuing our Friday series on the popes who have served the Church since Vatican II. Last week, we saw footage of Pope John XXIII's election. This week, let's look at some footage of his liturgy of installation (then, it was called a Coronation). I'm relying on this post, the author of which has meticulously combed through the internet for footage and who loves the liturgy as it was before Vatican II. 

 

A couple of things stand out to this modern observer--let's get a discussion started on what you see or think about this liturgy in relation to your own experience in the worship of God in our Church. 

 

First--the pope is carried on the sedia gestatoria (the chair/throne on which he is seated in this video).

 

It does seem that the pope himself wasn't fond of the traveling chair:

Blessed Pope John was famously uncomfortable in the sedia gestatoria. When first lifted up, he was asked if he was all right. 'Hm: it's windy up here!' was the reply. And reportedly he invariably felt sea-sick after any time spent travelling in it. This was not the case with Pope Pius XII who would on occasion leap athletically around, leaning out to shake hands with people (presumably to the consternation of the bearers). Pope John just sat very, very, very still, managing an occasional watery smile and a feeble blessing and regretting having had that extra cornetto for breakfast. That being said, it was not he who abolished the sedia.

Second, the use of the tiara is something that has not been used since this event.

 

Though the liturgy is no longer called a coronation, and though a tiara has not been used since 1958, at least one aspect of these liturgies hasn't changed: the crowds present. There is something amazing about Bernini's piazza (St. Peter's Square) which serves the Church well when people from everywhere gather to reflect the universal Church. 

 


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