I have to admit to just a tinge of envy when I spotted that a new website has been set up which aims to help newlyweds receive a blessing from the Pope in Rome.
For the uninitiated this practice known as Sposi Novelli, means that newlyweds may attend a general Papal audience in Rome within a year of their wedding, have allocated seats at the front and the Pope will come over, greet the couples and offer a handshake and a blessing. Most couples wear their wedding regalia for the occasion.
I can’t help thinking that it is something of a shame that Pope Benedict XVI has discontinued his predecessor’s practice of individually blessing each couple. A former colleague of mine was fortunate enough to have received this grace from the then ailing Pope John Paul II and recounts an absolutely hilarious tale. Apparently as she and her husband knelt before the Holy Father as she stood up she got the heel of her shoe caught in the hem of her voluminous dress, felt herself toppling forward, automatically shot her hand out for support catching the knee of the elderly pontiff, almost dragging him onto the floor with her and sending the Swiss Guards running to disentangle the pair of them!
I console myself with the fact that though we were unable to get to Rome to receive this privilege in person, we were fortunate enough to receive an Apostolic marriage blessing, as a gift from our local parish which occupies pride of place. I would have relished the opportunity to put on my beautiful wedding dress one more time and can’t think of a more appropriate and resplendent setting for us in our nuptial finery, than Rome. Just thinking about it sends me into girlish raptures.
Mind you, given that I fell pregnant a few months after our wedding, I suspect the sight of a groom dressed in a long black cassock, dog collar and black saturno from Gamerellis* accompanying his visibly pregnant bride, whilst seeking a personal papal blessing, may well have caused a slight raising of the Apostolic eyebrow!
*Since posting, I have been informed that said hat came from Barbaconi, not Gamerelli. “Gamerilli, on my salary?! Ha ha ha ha”.