Monsignor Alfred Xuereb is first Personal Secretary to His Holiness Pope Francis. I wrote to him about a month ago to ask if we might attend Mass at Domus Santa Martha on our recent pilgrimage to Rome.
I thought it worthwhile to write the letter, because from time to time you can get lucky, but I really did not expect any reply at all. A person can hope, but never expect, to have such a privilege. After all, thousands of people visit, and there must be hundreds of requests received at the Vatican every day.
On the Sunday that we were in Rome (20 October), we attended Mass at the “Altar of the Chair” in St. Peter’s Basilica, which is directly behind the main altar. The Mass was beautiful. The pews were flanked by two separate choir groups, and two pipe organs. Mass began at 10 a.m., and finished around 11:30 a.m.
We walked out of St. Peter’s in time to hear the Sunday Angelus. The way into the square was blocked by the thousands of pilgrims gathered to see and hear Pope Francis. From our vantage point I could just barely see the window in the Apostolic Apartment where the Holy Father stands during the Angelus. I think I may have seen his hand wave for an instant, but I could have imagined it. We could not get into a position in the square that would have permitted us to see him better, and all of the “jumbo-tron” screens were facing away from us. We heard him and received his blessing.
There were so many blessings from that short trip for my wife and me, I forgot about having written to Monsignor Xuereb about Mass at the Domus, until I received his letter today:
I think this is pretty awesome. I will treasure it. It meant a lot to know that the letter I sent was received, read, and responded to by the Holy Father’s personal secretary. Lord knows these guys are immensely busy, and yet he took the time to respond.