I did not watch the Pope live in St. Peter’s square on the 27th of March as we friars were at prayer in the basilica, but after several people mentioned it and how powerful the images were, I thought I would take a look. Watched it on YouTube. Wow! Powerful indeed!

Pope Francis addresses and empty Vatican speaking in Italian

Here are some thoughts regarding the possible symbolism behind these images; I’m not saying this is what they are, just this is what popped into my mind. As you probably noticed I try and find the simple and useful meaning in all.

As you may recall the columns of St. Peter’s square, according to the designs of Bernini, were intended to evoke the image of the open arms of God welcoming and embracing all humanity.

Rain drenches St Peter’s Square

Starting from that perspective we can see the chair illuminated and empty as the light of the Holy Spirit that dwells within everyone’s heart and soul.

The vast emptiness is the space that we usually try and fill up with the joys of this world; many of them awesome things as is God’s plan to give us the wonders of His creation to enhance our happiness here on earth. But we lost sight of our priorities and where God belongs in this life. So like a good parent, He took away our privileges and put us on a “timeout” from all those distractions to think about what we have done. 

He’s giving us time to realign our priorities and put God first and all else second and on down the line. And He gave us some images to help guide us on what to reconsider during this time of solitude such as the (rain) water to have us read prayerfully the reason and beliefs we have about our baptism.

We saw fire to remind us to reacquaint ourselves with our belief behind having received the Holy Spirit more completely in confirmation. And the seven steps the pope ascended to get to the chair are the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit which rest deep in each person here on earth.

From there we heard “The Word” and a homily.  Then the Pope went to the icon of Mary, who gave her fiat and initiated God’s salvific plan allowing “The Word to be made flesh”, and he prayed in front of the image of Mary with the baby Jesus.  

Then the Pope went to the Crucified Christ and prayed. After, he walked toward but did not enter the Father’s house (St. Peter’s) as the altar was set up in the middle just outside the basilica but not in the Darkness of the world. A middle place similar to purgatory where we spent time with the pope in front of the flesh and blood soul and divinity of the resurrected Christ.

Finally, we received the blessing of Christ and he returned from that middle place back into His father’s house where a place has been prepared for all humanity. We all want to get to the Father’s house and the only way to the Father is through the Son. And before this Mary is there to lead us to the Son who came to us first as The Word.

Then, and this is extremely important, we see once again the empty space showing that we are given another opportunity and this time we must remember our place, remember God’s place and fill this empty space with God’s Love. We must go and share the Joy of the resurrected Christ and bring His Love to all humanity, all creatures and all creation  We use the renewed and refreshed lesson just received and the realignment of our ways to go back out in the world when God wills this is over and not “fall back” into the same old routine but with the zeal of modern day disciples we go out to the ends of the world and proclaim through the lives we live that Jesus Christ Is Lord!! 

 The 3 lessons I share in this reflection are not just to say “oh wow that’s cool” I believe they are absolutely necessary to benefit from the next of the three-part process we may be undergoing. This “timeout” is for us to reconnect to The Way, The Truth and the Life, make a serious attempt because the level of realignment we make, the ground we clear spiritually is where the benefits will go in the next step. With little or no space, we will receive little or no benefits.

Reacquaint yourself with the reasons why and benefits of Baptism and Confirmation (Water and Fire). Get to know the 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit. 

May the Peace of the Lord be upon you

The Light of the Holy Spirit shine through you

And the Love of Father surround you,


 Br. Don Bassana, OFM Conv

Presently serving in Rome and Assisi Italy

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