Daughters serve the Pope… and the poor

by | Apr 4, 2013 | Daughters of Charity, Pope | 2 comments

Fr. Rolando S.DelaGoza, CM writes of his recollections of Domus Santa Marta …

I  think  that all our readers know  that the Holy Father, Pope Francis, lives in “Domus Sanctae Marthae”  (Santa Marta) which is  the  Vatican Hotel run  by  the Daughters of  Charity. As  the Procurator General of  the Vincentian Fathers and the  Daughters of Charity,  this writer was  privileged to visit  the Santa Marta  dozens of  times from 1997-2005.  The following  are my recollections  of  the Vincentian  Home of  the Holy Father.

Compared to the “Palazzo Apostolico (The Pope’s Palace),”  the Santa Marta is indeed quite ordinary, simple, unpretentious and definitely not a four star hotel.  For while  the Palazzo  Apostolico, the former residences of the  Popes, for  hundred of  years, is imposing, well-decorated with  beautiful frescoes and carpeted  halls,  the Santa Marta is just like an ordinary three star Italian hotel.  But as the Daughters of  Charity are the administrators of  the residence,  they  really keep it one of  the cleanest and organized  buildings inside  the Vatican.

Once inside  the Santa Marta, one can enter  the  beautiful chapel  just a few meters from  the door.  It is  full of  the imprints  of any Vincentian house, notably  the presence  of a beautiful statue of  the  Miraculous Medal and  some Vincentian reading materials.  At the right side of the lobby is  the  refectory  which could hold  over a hundred people.  Most of  the guests  are Cardinals, Bishops  and  some of  the officers of  the Vatican.

The security  problems  have to be  addressed  because the Santa Marta is  right at the  Vatican Walls. Once  a person enters  the gate (the back  gate around 150 meters away from the Bernini Canopy of St. Peter’s), he can see the hotel building  located only a few  meters away.  The  gate  will need  reinforcement since a  big truck could easily ram through and gain  access to the  building, while not even a hundred trucks  could possibly ram through the massive walls of the Palazzo Apostolico, much less to topple it down.

The Daughters of Charity  are not satisfied with   just taking care and looking after  the Cardinals and Bishops, and now the Holy Father,  they also  have a social and pastoral  work  nearby.  They  have some  medical and social  programs  right  across  the street—still  inside  the Vatican.  It  would be interesting to see if  they will be allowed to keep  the small building where the Sisters organize their  pro-poor apostolate.  My guess is  that  the small building will  be taken over  by the Vatican  security  force and, perhaps, the Sisters will be given another  place in return. But that is a small sacrifice in the service of the Popes of whom St.Vincent was fond  of saying :”Roma locuta  est, causa finita est.”

2 Comments

  1. Daughters of Charity Provincial Archives

    Nice story! The Daughters have served at Domus Sanctae Marthae since 1864, so they have a long history of interacting with Popes and other Vatican officials. Check out the Provincial Archives blog (http://dcarchives.wordpress.com/2013/04/04/sisters-at-st-marthas-house-1947/) for more on the history of the Daughters at Domus Sanctae Marthae and recollections from Sisters who were there in 1947 for Catherine Laboure’s canonization.

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