The cardinals met again in their General Congregation and discussed, among other things, the budget for the Vatican and expenses related to the funeral of John Paul II and the conclave; the final sealing of the papal apartments by the Apostolic Camera; the transportation of the cardinals between their dormitory and the Sistine Chapel during the conclave; a discussion of the state of the Church and the world; announcement that the cardinals would receive the condolences of the diplomatic corps tomorrow; and the opening of the Vatican grottoes to the public tomorrow so the faithful may pray at the Holy Father’s tomb.
My brother John and his 12-year-old son Peter are leaving for Rome today. They have a new tradition in their family that when each child reaches the age of 12, he or she can choose a Marian shrine to which they and one of the parents will travel and at which they will consecrate themselves to Mary. Peter picked Loreto, Italy, and this trip has been in the planning for months. It is by the work of the Holy Spirit that they happen to be going now.
I hope that they will be able to pray before the Holy Father’s tomb. When John and his family went to Rome last in 2005, as they prayed before the tomb of St. Peter, my nephew Peter, 7 or 8 at the time, felt someone’s hand on his shoulder. When he looked up, there was no one there. He believed it was St. Peter.
I pray that they will receive great spiritual blessings from this pilgrimage and perhaps they may even be able to welcome the new Pope if he’s elected before they leave next week.