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Monday, 11 January 2010

Domus Sanctae Marthae

The conference of the Confraternities of Catholic Clergy of Australia and the US was based around the Domus Sanctae Marthae in the Vatican. Some of the participants were accommodated elsewhere but I was fortunate to be allocated a room in the DSM.

The DSM was constructed in 1996 with the primary purpose of providing accommodation for Cardinals during the conclave to elect a new Pope. It is inside the territory of the Vatican City State, just past the Pope Paul VI Audience Hall. Run by the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul, it has 106 suites, 22 single rooms and one apartment.

Apparently the DSM is often described in the media as a "five star hotel" and Professor Mary Ann Glendon had to contradict this misrepresentation. I was searching for an appropriate way to describe it when I remembered the phrase "noble simplicity" which is quite appropriate. Here is a photo of the bedroom. You will note that there is no Corby Trouser Press:

In the other part of the "suite" there is a desk with two chairs:

There is quite a lot of cupboard space and some bookshelves for Cardinals who might be there for two or three weeks. There is no television or minibar. Downstairs there are two television rooms with half a dozen upright chairs and in the basement there is a sign to "Bar" which consists of two vending machines, one for coffee and one for soft drinks.

The chapel (dedicated to the Holy Spirit) is dignified, simple and reverent: very Novus Ordo but a place where one can pray.

One little detail that I spotted will be of interest to US readers: the organ at the back of the chapel:

Here is the brass plaque on the side:

In English, it reads:
Organ for the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae, donated to the Holy Father John Paul II by the foundation "Knights of Columbus", Mr Virgil C. Dechant being Supreme Knight. In the year 1997 (the 19th year of the Pontificate)
On the second and fifth floors there are small chapels where priests (or indeed Cardinals) can celebrate a private Mass at any time of day, and on the ground floor, in addition to the meeting room and refectory, there is a small room with three computers that have good internet access.

Comfortable, simple, a place to sleep and to pray. Ideal for the simple parish priest on a conference, or for a Cardinal making the decision of a lifetime.
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