CARDINAL GIVES A SMART TAP
HIGH churchmen and lay dignitaries were dealt a spn' bolic blow on the shoulder as Cardinal Cento last week assumed office as the Church's Major Penitentiary in St.
As Major Penitentiary, Cardinal Cento heads the tribunal which has authority to absolve Catholics from the severest forms of excommunication and other censures—those which are specifically reserved to the Holy See and which cannot be lifted by any other authority.
The symbol of the Major ry
Penitentia's office is a long wooden wand with which he touches the shoulder of the individual signifying the remission of sin. The custom goes back to ancient Roman times, when slaves were freed by a similar ceremony. Today it stands for the freeing of the soul from sin.
Normally, the ceremony takes place only in Holy Week, when the en
Major Penitentiary visits each of Rome's four major basilicas. But ceremony also takes place the cerem
whenever a new Major Penitentiary is installed.
Cardinal Cento. 78, was pe appointed to the post by Po John to succeed Cardinal Larraona, C.M.F., who became Prefect of the served as Major Penitentiary Congregation of Rites. Cardinal Larraona had seajor Penitentiary since shortly after the death of Cardinal Canali last August. Among the dignitaries who knelt special throne Cardinal Cento's throne in St. Peter's for the touch Wand were Mgr. Nasalli of the w Rocca di Corneliano, the Pope's maestro di camera; Archbishop Diego Venini, papal almoner; Archbishop Primi Principi, Secretary of the Sacred Congregation of St. Peter's Basilica; and Francisco Gomez de Llano, Spanish Ambassador to the Holy See.