TWO weeks ago I recorded the ninth anniversary of the death of Pope John XXIII. It would seem odd not to record that on Wednesday the Church will be celebrating the ninth anniversary of the election of Pope Paul VI, whose coronation took place on June 30. "II papa e' marto: viva i1 Papa."
Not only the world but the reporters on the spot were caught by surprise with the speed of the 1963 Conclave election. a near-record 41 hours and 20 minutes on the second day of balloting. Through June 20 some 30,000 persons standing watch in St. Peter's Square had anxiously watched the smoke curl lazily morning and afternoon from the Sistine Chapel stovepipe. It had been black.
This morning, the sweltering first official day of summer heat had narrowed the crowd to 10,000 when a slender column of smoke arose at 11.20, almost an hour ahead of the previous day. Was it black or was it white? Against the blue sky it could have been either at .first glance. Then a heavier puff. It was white. Predictions of a long-drawn out and laborious Conclave had been proven wrong.
It had been an exciting Conclave from the time the 80 cardinals (there were 82 alive at the time) assembled in Rome. The word "Conclave" is rightly used to describe this assembly for, derived from the Latin "cunt chive" (with key) the cardinals literally are locked into a series of private apartments known as cells and can communicate with no one in the outside world until they choose a new Pope. The origins of this "cum cave" date back to the 13th century and became an institution after one of the most famous conclaves in Papal history when the College of Cardinals met in Viterbo. where Clement IV had died in 1268. The cardinals, unable to agree on a majority candidate, wined, dined and hunted stag for almost three years.
The inhabitants became incensed, locked up the cardinals in the palace, reduced them to a diet of bread and water and finally removed the roof before a wild hailstorm. The new Pope, Gregory X set the rules that were followed at the election of Pope Paul — physical discomfort makes for inspiration.
For the first time for centuries there was speculation over the possibility that the Pope might be a foreigner with
Cardinal Josef Suenens, Primate of Belgium, and Cardinal Franciskus Korn& of Vienna, being prominently mentioned. But to the "experts" who followed Vatican politics. the election of Giovan ni Battista Montini, Archbishop of Milan, was virtually a foregone conclusion.
And the Roman in the street, too, was sure it would be Milan's Archbishop Cardinal Montini because, as Roman superstition has it, fat Popes alternate with thin popes and the letter "R" also alternates in the name. Pope John was fat and had an "R" in his Roncalli: Paul was thin and there was no "R" in Montini.
DF-SMOND CRAWLEY British Minister to the Holy See, had an exceptionally pleasant and select Queen's birthday party at the legation on the Via Bertoloni last week. Perhaps the new informality of Vatican protocol procedures makes for greater ease in
rapprochement between the hierarchy, the priest, and the laity at such functions but undoubtedly the setting of a reception on English lawns under shady magnolia trees in the heart of Rome was equally important.
The two carabinieri, in full cockaded-hat uniform flanking the entrance, were in keeping with the past. But the flaming candles are gone and Mr. and Mrs. Crawley are to be congratulated on allowing the cardinals and other prelates to mingle freely with priest and lay guests in drawing-room or garden instead of segregating them in some back corner (a custom still of many embassies) where they just talk to each other and a few status guests.
Apart from Curia card:nals, including 88-year-old Scots veteran of the Holy Roman Rota William Theodore Heard, the rectors, vice-rectors and some students of the English. Scots and Bede Colleges were present together with a large number of British colony members either Catholic or involved in activities concerning the Holy See.
THE ecclesiastical scholastic world of Rome has lost one of its ablest college administrators and English circles a popular friend with the retirement yesterday of Mgr. Jeremiah John Curtin. Rector of the College of St. Bede, or "The Becht." as it is commonly called.
In recognition of his work at the Bede. to which he was called by the late Pope John, Pope Paul named Mgr. Curtin a protonotary apostolic and received Km in a farewell audience last week.
"I felt very privileged to be made rector of the Beda when Pope John called me to Rome in 1961. But I have been rector for 11 years and while I am naturally sorry to be leaving I feel personally that new blood is needed," Mgr. Curtin told me.
One of Mgr. Curtin's most memorable moments during these years was when Pope Paul ordained nearly 20 "Beda boys" priests in the Sistine Chapel in 1967. "Popes are elected in the Sistine Chapel and Cardinals and bishops sometimes consecrated there but this is the first time, I believe, that priests have been ordained in it," he told me.
Mgr. Curtin will be 65 on Monday and has spent 26 years of his life in training colleges for priests. the first 15 of them at Wonersh, where he was vicerector in 1948.
But that year he opted for pastoral experience and spent the next 131 years as a parish priest, in Haywards Heath, Sussex. from 1948 to 1956 and in Eastbourne from 1956 to 1961.
When Mgr. Curtin drove Out of Rome this week he was heading for Vienna. "Cardinal Kanig (the Archbishop of Vienna) is an old friend. We were students together in Rome. I was staying at the Beda taking a post-graduate course in the Gregorian while Kianig was living at the German College opposite. We had coffee and cornetti together many mornings and when I was a parish priest at Haywards Heath lie came as my locum tenon," he said before leaving.
Although originally from Sileby. Leicester, where he was born, Mgr. Curtin will retire to his home at Farnham, Surrey. "I don't know what I will do as yet but I certainly will not retire to a position of bucolic obscurity," he told me. "I have had innumerable letters asking me to lecture, visit, hold retreats, etc. but I am in no hurry to decide."
The Beda College was founded in 1852 chiefly for convert clergymen or older men who wished to become priests, although today it does accept younger men. A majority of the older vocations are men who have made their niche in the world of business before deciding to become priests. There are bankers, industrialists. oilmen, engineers, doctors, accountants, and company -d i rectors.