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.”