THE Pope said last week
end that he has asked his aides to kneel before him only twice a day. thus reducing ceremonial.
He told an audience of 600 Italian Pilgrims that he considered it a " humiliation " for himself that people should kneel every time they appeared before him.
" Since I was elected to the Papacy my life has been rich with consolation and humiliations," he said,
" One of the humiliations is to see everyone kneel before me because of the heritage of St. Peter, so I have agreed with the persons closest to roe that they should kneel down only twice a day, in the morning and evening. and that's all
When five Bishops and several priests attending the audience knelt for an official photograph with the Pope, he cried out cheerfully" Ne no stand up."
began a Low Mass at the Altar of the Confession at the heart of the Surrounded by the Immense congregation which entered without tickets, the responses to the prayers at the foot of the altar came from many thousands. And so it continued, the responses, the Gloria, the Credo. the Pater Nosier, exactly according to the new rulings, thus giving an example to the whole world.
AF4k giving the customary Apostolic Benediction from the balcony of St. Peter's, the Pope went up the tanieulum to visit 500 children in the Hospital of the Infant Jesus.
Like an ordinary parish priest he strolled through the wards, gesturing at the tiny babies, talking to the older children. As he left each bed he blessed the child there and left a souvenir medal and sweets.
One child asked the Holy Father his name. "Angelo, that's what they called me when I was little," replied the Pope. "Then, when I was a soldier, they called me Giuseppe. And now everybody calls me Giovanni."
During this visit the Pope apparently ended a custom by which he is offered a white skullcap in exchange for his own. He placed an offered cap on his head, but returned it saying: "I shall not give you mine for two reasons: first of all I do not want to be the cause of special hatmakers creating my caps skullcaps; and secondly because the affair of the skullcap could become a superstition."
T HEN the Pope returned to the A Vatican via the great Hospital of the Holy Spirit on the banks of the Tiber, where he was received by the Prime Minister, Signor Fenian'.
In the hospital his words were relayed to all the sick. Then he went through the wards, stopping at the beds, asking questions of various patients and making the Sign of the Cross on the foreheads of many.
As he spoke to the patients. photographers continually exploded flashbulbs around him, and he broke off to say: "One should probably add a 15th work of mercy-that of enduring annoying people or of instructing the ignorant. I am very fond of photos graphers, but ... I want to be left in peace a little."
One more stop was made on the way home-at the Casa di Santa Martha where the Pope met Mgr. Rotta, the 86-year-old former Nuncio to Hungary who, it is said,
refused the Red Hat from Pope John only a few weeks ago. The Pope invited him to share his Christmas dinner at the Vatican.
0N Christmas afternoon, some Inc orphans and crippled children went to see the Pope and to sing carols.
On Christmas eve the Pope had received in audience all those who live in Vatican City. On St, Stephen's Day, it was barely 8 a.m. when the Pope went out on another of his works of mercy.
The big iron doors leading to each gallery of cells in the Regina Cocli prison bad been hung with Christmas decorations.
About 1,100 of the 1,300 prisoners there are awaiting trial on charges ranging from theft to manslaughter.
A lighted Christmas tree stood at the entrance. A red carpet marked the Holy Father's route to the rotunda where prisoners and guards had worked many hours to erect the small altar, and a crib had been set up for the occasion.
As the Pope entered, masses of prisoners crowded against the bars. Standing. Pope John raised his voice to be heard throughout the four tiers of cell blocks and said:
"Well. I have come. You have seen me. I have fixed my eyes upon yours; I have joined my heart to your heart. Our visit together will remain one of the purest memories of the beginning of my pontificate.
"Now write home to your dear ones and tell them that the Pope came to see you and that he promises to say the Rosary for you and to celebrate his Mass for your intentions. Now I bless you." The Pope told the prisoners how as a boy a deep impression had been made on him when one of his relatives was "sent up for a month" because he had been caught hunting without a licence. He spoke of respect for the just laws and acceptance of their sanctions.
The Pope, who was then presented with a missal bound in the prison library, visited every part of the prison, passing in front of every cell-giving his ring to be kissed-and then visited the sick ward.
0N Saturday the Pope, in a four. hour ceremony in St. Peter's, personally consecrated eight Archbishops and Bishops-including his
Secretary and Pro-Secretary of State, Cardinal Tardini and Archbishop Dell' Acqua.
On Sunday the Pope with 17 Cardinals. listened to a performance of "The Messiah" by a Venice orchestra.
T HEN on Monday came light A relief when Pope John received in audience clowns, trapeze artists, and others who provide all the fun of the circus.
The symbol of the City of Venice, where Pope John was Patriarch before his election to the See of Peter, is a winged lion, and the symbol is included in the Pope's coat of arms. So, a lion tamer came forward with a 45day-old lion cub named Dolly offering to place it in the Pope's lap But the cub was in a playful mood and the Pope , declined. "Easy, easy," he laughed. "I am accustomed to the lions of Venice -which do not move."
A young performer brought two white doves which fluttered round to music from an accordion and violins. The Pope addressed the circus people briefly, ending with the invitation : "Do come again; We are always here."