Sunday, January 14, 2007

Archbishop Cremona and the Papal Alb

Archbishop-elect Paul Cremona will be ordained a bishop on January 26th. At his ordination, he may be wearing a very interesting alb.

From Malta Star:

Archbishop-elect, Mgr Paul Cremona’s life long devotion and admiration for the pope of his childhood, Blessed John XXIII (Angelo Roncalli), has led to him being informed that he will be presented with the late pope’s alb for his Episcopal ordination later this month. is informed that the alb will then be kept at the Cathedral museum in Mdina.

The idea of having a memento of the man known as “Il Papa buono”, the good Pope, is the brainchild of Franciscan friar, Fr Anton Farrugia OFM. Fr Farrugia, who is a liturgy specialist, is currently posted at the Franciscan convent and church of Sacre Couer in Sliema, apart from assisting in the Maltese Curia’s Commission for the liturgy. Fr Farrugia is also a personal friend of Archbishop Loris Capovilla who is presently the Pontificial Prelate for the shrine of Our Lady of Loreto in Italy and, more importantly, was the private secretary of the Blessed John XXIII.

Fr Farrugia wrote to Mgr Capovilla, now 91 years old, after the announcement that Fr Paul Cremona had been nominated to succeed Mgr Mercieca as archbishop of Malta and informed him of the new archbishop’s devotion and admiration for the late Papa Roncalli, so much so that Fr Cremona’s doctoral thesis was entitled The Concept of Peace in Pope John XXIII. Fr Farrugia suggested that Mgr Capovilla find a suitable memento of the late Pope to present to Malta’s archbishop elect. For some reason, Mgr Capovilla took some time to answer and Fr Farrugia asked a lay friend of his, Mr Joseph Mifsud of Sliema and who communicates with the Italian prelate regularly by phone, being himself also a devotee of the John XXIII, to check and see whether Bishop Capovilla had received his letter.

After this, Bishop Capovilla contacted Fr Farrugia and told him that he had decided to present Mgr Cremona with an alb, the white vestment priests dress when celebrating mass, which the Blessed Pope John XXIII used to wear when he was known Angelo, Cardinal, Archbishop Roncalli, Patriarch of Venice. Archbishop Capovilla said that the alb had been given to him by the late pope himself but that he would gladly let the new Maltese archbishop have it seeing how devoted he is to John XXIII. It was agreed that Bishop Capovilla would send the alb to the Roman convent of the Franciscan Friars Minor where Fr Farrugia would be attending a seminar this week and he would then bring it over to Malta with him to present to Mgr Cremona. is informed that it was Fr Farrugia who informed the Archbishop-Elect of the news. We are also informed that Fr Cremona was overjoyed and visibly moved with the news and that he insists that, if he does not wear it during his ordination, it should be put somewhere prominent in St John’s Co-Cathedral because the archbishop elect regards the alb of the late pope as a holy relic.

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