Staying in the Domus


Culled from the Moynihan Report

Culled from the Moynihan Report

The new Pope's bedroom, published before the Conclave, when no one thought it would be the room the Pope would choose to remain in
Everyone likes a home they can be comfortable in. And the new Pope is no exception. And he likes the Domus Santa Marta. He's comfortable there. And so, for the moment, Pope Francis will not move into the grand, majestic Apostolic Palace which overlooks St. Peter's Square, where every Pope since 1903 has lived.
This is causing a small sensation in the Vatican. It is another sign of Pope Francis's simplicity. His life is coherent with his words. Interestingly, as far as being close to the tomb of St. Peter, except for the residences in the Fabbrica San Pietro, there is no residence in Vatican City closer to St. Peter's tomb than… the Domus.

It is only a two-minute walk across the cobblestones to the back entrance of the basilica, and then in and down to the crypt, where Peter's body was taken after he was crucified only a few steps away, probably in 64 A.D.

And the presence of Peter's body there is the whole reason for the existence of the basilica, and the entire Vatican. The basilica is built directly over his tomb. The center of Michaelangelo's cupola is directly over the tomb. The main altar is directly over the tomb.

So Francis, for the time being, will stay in his room at the Domus Santa Marta — the House of St. Martha, the saint known for her hospitality — the sister of Mary of Bethany and of Lazarus, whom Jesus raised.

It is the one guest house in Vatican City, and the place where the cardinals stayed during the Conclave.

There Francis will have a small suite, quite comfortable, but by no means luxurious- Room 201. The Pope's window has a view of the basilica dome, the lovely, silver cupola.

This is the same suite Cardinal Ratzinger used for a few days after his election in 2005, before he moved over to the Apostolic Palace. The same suite where patriarchs have sometimes stayed in the past. The largest and best suite in the Domus. But nowhere near as large as the papal apartments in the Apostolic Palace are.

Francis will have a common dining room on the first, ground floor of the Domus, where some 50 monsignors from the Vatican, who also live full-time in the Domus, take their breakfast, lunch and dinner.

And, also the same ground floor, is the chapel of the Domus, where Francis has been celebrating Mass each morning.

There are also several meeting rooms, and a large reception room for receiving guests.

Below that level, in the basement of the Domus, there are a couple of vending machines, for coffee and cappuccino, and there is even a small gym with weight machines and treadmills for exercising.

The Domus is spotlessly clean, and has been carefully managed, first, for nearly 10 years, by don Aldo Tolotto, and, for the past year, by Tolotto's successor, Monsignor Battista Ricca, who is also in charge of the other two Vatican guest houses, both outside the Vatican, one behind Vatican Radio and the other on via della Scrofa, just behind the Piazza Navona.

In addition to the monsignors who live there, members of pontifical academies who have meetings in Rome (for example, members of the Pontifical Academy for Life and the Pontifical Academy of Sciences), can also reside for a few days in the Domus.

It is not known how this decision of Francis to stay in the Domus may affect the operations of the Vatican security force, or if any changes will have to be made to the traffic flow from the nearby side gate of the Vatican.

It is only a few minutes walk from the front door of the Domus up into the Vatican Gardens. On an afternoon stroll, then, Pope Francis could, conceivably, walk up into the gardens and in just a few minutes arrive… at the convent where Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI will be staying, beginning in May.

Culled from the Moynihan Report