Anecdotes of a Papal Preacher

Father Raniero Cantalamessa Marks 25 Years in Post

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VATICAN CITY, JULY 4, 2004 ( Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa celebrated 25 years as preacher of the papal household, an activity that has allowed him to be especially close to John Paul II.

This commitment, the preacher revealed, «has stimulated me to renew my preaching, my interests, always trying to discern the signs of the times, the challenges, and the great problems of the Church, to be able to reflect on them.»

In an interview on Vatican Radio, Father Cantalamessa recalled some anecdotes from his time as papal preacher.

«The fact that the Pope finds time to listen to the preaching of a simple priest of the Church is an example of extraordinary humility,» the Capuchin said.

«I remember that at one time he was not present on two Fridays, because he was on a trip to Central America. When he returned, at the end of my preaching he moved away from the secretaries and came to apologize to me for missing two sermons,» Father Cantalamessa said.

He continued: «I will never forget the first time I preached in St. Peter’s, and I realized that I had to speak very slowly because my voice reverberated and there was a very strong echo. But by speaking slowly, my preaching lasted 10 minutes longer than foreseen. The prefect of the Pontifical Household was worried, with good reason, and every now and then looked at his watch.»

«The next day, as he himself recounted, the Pope called him after the session and told him affably that when someone speaks to us in the name of God we must not look at our watch,» the Capuchin recalled.

«This is an aspect of the Pope that has impressed my greatly; it would seem he is never in a hurry,» Father Cantalamessa said. «Despite everything the Pope has to do and all the problems he has to address, when he is with someone he exists only for that person.»

«Once I was caught in Rome’s traffic and, despite the driver’s efforts, we arrived a quarter of an hour late for the preaching,» he added. «To tell the truth, some cardinals were impatient and waiting at the door. The Pope, instead, was tranquil in his chapel, praying the rosary, showing no sign of impatience for my delay.»

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