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Pope Francis to live in guesthouse rather than papal apartments

By on Tuesday, 26 March 2013

The Domus Sanctae Marthae, where Pope Francis has decided to stay (Photo: CNS)

The Domus Sanctae Marthae, where Pope Francis has decided to stay (Photo: CNS)

Pope Francis has decided not to move into the papal apartments in the Apostolic Palace, but to live in a suite in the Vatican guesthouse where he has been since the beginning of the conclave that elected him, Fr Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, has said.

“He is experimenting with this type of living arrangement, which is simple,” but allows him “to live in community with others”, both the permanent residents – priests and bishops who work at the Vatican – as well as guests coming to the Vatican for meetings and conferences, Fr Lombardi said.

The spokesman said Pope Francis has moved out of the room he drew by lot before the conclave and into Suite 201, a room that has slightly more elegant furnishings and a larger living room where he can receive guests.

The Domus Sanctae Marthae, the official name of the guesthouse, was built in 1996 specifically to house cardinals during a conclave.

Celebrating Mass with the residents and guests, Pope Francis told them he intended to stay, Fr Lombardi said. The permanent residents, who had to move out during the conclave, had just returned to their old rooms.

Pope Francis has been there since his election, taking his meals in the common dining room downstairs and celebrating a 7am Mass with Vatican employees in the main chapel of the residence.

He will be the first pope in 110 years not to live in the papal apartments on the third floor of the Apostolic Palace.

In 1903, St Pius X became the first pope to live in the apartments overlooking St Peter’s Square. The apartments were completely remodelled by Pope Paul VI in 1964 and have undergone smaller modifications by each pope since, according to Mondo Vaticano, a Vatican-published mini-encyclopedia about Vatican buildings, offices and tradition.

The large living room of the flat is located directly above the papal library where official audiences with visiting bishops and heads of state are held.

Pope Francis will continue to use the library for official audiences and to recite the Angelus prayer on Sundays and holy days from the apartment window overlooking St Peter’s Square, Fr Lombardi said.

The apartments contain a chapel, an office for the Pope and a separate office for his secretaries, the Pope’s bedroom, a dining room, kitchen and rooms for two secretaries and for the household staff.

When Pope Francis returned to the guesthouse after his election, Fr Lombardi had said the move was intended to be short-term while a few small work projects were completed in the papal apartments. He said that all the work had now been completed, but at least for the foreseeable future Pope Francis would not move in.

The Domus Sanctae Marthae, named after St Martha, is a five-storey building on the edge of Vatican City.

While offering relative comfort, the residence is not a luxury hotel. The building has 105 two-room suites and 26 singles; about half of the rooms are occupied by the permanent residents. Each suite has a sitting room with a desk, three chairs, a cabinet and large closet; a bedroom with dresser, night table and clothes stand; and a private bathroom with a shower.

The rooms all have telephones and access to an international satellite television system.

The building also has a large meeting room and a variety of small sitting rooms. In addition to the dining room and the main chapel, it also has four private chapels, located at the end of hallways on the third and fifth floors of each of the building’s two wings.

  • Kristina Renshaw

    Yes Jesus is King of Kings but he did not live like a King, he was humble and lived like you and I. He lived like his brothers, his sisters. It’s what you are in spirit not what you are in Flesh. Mary did not have a throne nor did Jesus, but in Spirit they have the world, they have you and I and will lead us by their grace not by material power.

  • Kristina Renshaw

    Veronica also washed his feet with her perfume. Jesus was invited for dinner but was never offered to have his hands washed nor his feet. In the days of Jesus he would have wore a white linen and the streets would have been dusty, they would have laid down on cushions to eat with their feet tucked up behind them. Veronica could see that Jesus was not offered courtesy and that his feet would have dirtied his white linen gown. So with her perfume she bathed them.

  • Kristina Renshaw

    I never said Jesus was poor I said he was humble. He did not buy extra bread or fish to feed the thousands, he did not use material power but the power of grace his Father. It is said that some Coins were received from the mouth of fish.

  • iggram

    The Church as the defender of faith and morals will forever uphold these truths that can never change. However there are some things(not doctrines) that do need to change. As Cardinal Chaput put it “Francis is the remedy the Church needs” If there is nothing wrong in the Church (again not its doctrines) why did he state that there is a need for a remedy?

  • plc53

    You know, maybe Pope Francis just prefers to live in the guesthouse for now. Maybe at some point he will move into the Papal apartment. And either way, I don’t think it necessarily has anything to do with having more, or less, “humility’.

    Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI was and is, to all unbiased opinions, a man of great humility. We should all hope and pray to be given the level of the grace of humility that Benedict XVI has cultivated wisely. And he lived in the Papal apartment. Humbly. As did Bl. Pope John Paul II live there. Humbly.

    Pope Francis will live where he chooses to live. He’s the Pope. He is able to live in the guesthouse humbly, and he is able to live in the Papal apartments humbly. One should hope at least. As far as setting an example to the masses, well, I don’t think living in one or the other makes any difference at all.

    There have been times in life when I don’t have a home. I don’t live in a guesthouse, or an apartment, or any house at all. I scramble around trying to find a place to live. Such is life sometimes. Yet I am not particularly humble, nor am I particularly more or less humble depending on what manner of roof I have, or do not have, over my head at any given time in life.

    When I slept in a ditch for a few nights, I was no more humble than when I stayed at a five star hotel on vacation. When I had to sleep in my car on occasion, I was no more or less humble than when I lived in a nice home by a golf course.

    In short, I am not simply as humble as my living arrangements.

    I am humbled, though, by how Jesus Christ was willing to suffer and die on the Cross for such a one as me. And apparently He loves me, and so much so that He is willing to share His very life with me, His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity with me. If I could only understand this, and live accordingly, then it doesn’t seem to me it would matter where I choose to live. If I talk a big talk about being humble, and live somewhere that the world sees as humble, yet do nothing to befriend nor help the poor and suffering, in a real and compassionate manner, then I am nothing more than a silly, selfish, greedy, and false little person.

    I like the example of the Pope, was it Gregory, who went out at times before dinner and rounded up a nice big group of poor folks, and brought them home to eat with him. Now that Pope may or may not have been as humble as the last three popes we’ve had, and it doesn’t really matter one way or the other to me. But it appeals to me and causes me to think kindly of Pope Gregory (I hope that’s the right one).

    Perhaps in the end, the man or woman who cares for the weak and suffering in real and personal ways, rather than to put oneself above them and merely toss them a bone, as the saying goes, is the truly humble Christian, rich or poor or in between.

    Don’t really see too much of that from any of us these days, it seems. Not a lot of it going around. And how could there be, really, when we’re so busy judging the levels of humility, and charity, and joy, and piety we think we see or don’t see in one another.

    Ave Maria! And on earth peace to men of good will.

  • Nesbyth

    I’m not sure where you get the information that it was Veronica who washed Jesus’ feet with the costly ointment.

    Matthew, Mark and Luke all speak of the woman with the alabaster jar of perfume which she broke open and with which she washed Jesus’ feet.

    This happened in the house of Simon the Leper according to Matthew and Mark and in the house of a Pharisee according to Luke. These three speak of her as being a sinner and not the sort of person who should be anointing Jesus in this way. St John’s Gospel is different and places this as happening in the house of Lazarus, Martha and Mary, with Mary being named as this woman. (Was she Mary Magdalene?)

    Veronica, on the other hand, is supposed to have wiped Jesus’ FACE while he was carrying His Cross and Jesus left an imprint of His face on this cloth.

    Veronica’s action is not recorded in the Gospels. Her name comes
    from Vero Icon (true image) of Jesus that miraculously appeared on it. Veronica was supposed to have been a pious woman of Jerusalem, not a harlot or sinner as the woman with the jar of ointment is written up.

    The incident of the alabaster box however, is recorded in all four Gopels, as Jesus insisted that it must be included in any account of his life, “Truly I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.”

  • Tridentinus

    Ho ho.

  • Pope Zicola

    Exactly, Genghis! I couldn’t agree with you more.

    Carnegie et al worked very hard and wished to share their good fortune with those who needed it.

    As the old saying goes ‘you can’t take it with you.’

  • Pope Zicola

    That thought also occurred to me, snowkey!

    Doesn’t our Holy Father spare a thought for those whose job it is to protect him and what would happen to them if things go whoopee-uppee?

    Two solutions:

    1. Hide the petty cash box so that he doesn’t dip in to get his bus fare!

    2. A watchmaker could send him the gift of a watch, fitted, James Bond-style, with a GPS.

    Dear me! Who would be the one to tell his boss i.e. the pope that he’s grounded if he went AWOL!?

  • Pope Zicola

    … and those nefarious types are out there!
    Don’t put anything past anything that would be made into a spy-thriller or Dan Brown novel.

  • Pope Zicola

    Apologies for the typos – my fingers are cold typing this up.

  • Pope Zicola

    You betcha boots, Benedict! I thought they’d gone the same way as the quagga, too!
    Bishop Brain of Salford gave them the go-ahead to once more reside at the Holy Name RC Church in Manchester.

  • Pope Zicola

    Boy! Can you imagine?
    It would be like one of those sit-coms on Dave…

  • Pope Zicola

    Nope, but we need to trust God in this and see what happens…

  • Pope Zicola

    You are a 22 carat example of pomposity and cafeteria Catholicism, aren’t you?

    I was answering your post, where you wrote, quote: ‘ the pope will do what the pope wants to do for whatever reason. it is really none of our business.’

    If what you say is right (which it ain’t!), then we would all be like Dawkins’ sullen band of militant atheists.

    It IS our business what the pope does, says, writes, rules on, sells, doesn’t sell. It affects us.
    Chew on THAT, buddy!

  • Po Beep

    Don’t tell me you have already stuck your card in their telephone kiosk? LOL!

  • bluesuede

    Andrew Carnegie, to my knowledge, did nothing to help the people he made poorer by his gross negligence with the lake and he skipped out when the Pittsburgh flood hit and killed many. It’s a very sad commentary in the life of the wealthy industrialist, and what he didn’t do for the poor, no matter how much he donated to the arts. To the working class poor, he would have become a hero and they’d have forgiven him if he had helped them recover and rebuild after the flood.

  • bluesuede

    It did say “RICH MAN”. I disagree with you there. Jesus did not come into wealth and honor, but poor and lowly. To teach us that the love of materialism is not going to get us to heaven. Often, riches and the accumulation of wealth, people fall into the temptation of loving them and forget about their poor neighbor. Jesus knew exactly what he was talking about. He loves the poor, because they don’t have the comfort of luxuries, they tend to be more simple and their hearts are not full of clutter, so they more easily love him. He did say, “The poor you will always have with you, to do good to them whenever you want”. Also, the love of money is the root of all evil. How true. I do believe what you said in one point. “…being rich and then being generous helps everyone.” I’m sure you would do that. But, look at those in the world who have the most wealth, they hate the little man, and want to reduce the world’s population by giving lots of money to abort the poor etc. That is a good example of the evils of having too much wealth.

  • bluesuede

    Why Pope Zicola?

  • bluesuede

    Just hold your horses! Just wait, and trust in God. Pray for the Holy Father. Above all, don’t believe what you read in mainstream media.

  • bluesuede

    It was Mary Magdalene. She was extremely grateful to Jesus. She was at the foot of the cross during the crucifixion and entered the tomb after the resurrection.

  • bluesuede

    “Who will pay attention after a while?” I will. TONY, why don’t you take a break. Put the ipad down and walk away. The papacy is not a soap opera. Day to day business at the Papal office can get boring if you were expecting a blockbuster. Chill. Read the lives of the saints. Since you attend Mass every day(I envy that), offer up one Mass a week for our Holy Father. It’s impossible to dislike someone you pray for.

  • bluesuede

    Why so cynical? The world politics have made us cynical. We’ve been promised to and been lied to and let down. We’ve seen our own countries dismantled. Have some faith. Trust in God. It’s his ship, let God lead it. He won’t disappoint. I too, cringe when I hear anything relating to taking away from what I love about the Church. Don’t worry. God is in command. Life is short. What counts is love.

  • bluesuede

    Thank you.

  • bluesuede

    You need to read about past popes. You’d be surprised.

  • bluesuede

    That’s tellin ‘em!

  • bluesuede

    You think too much.

  • bluesuede

    I’ll tell you one thing, he’s got his enemies scratching their heads.

  • bluesuede

    Maybe we need some counter culture to wake Catholics up.

  • bluesuede

    Smoking funny cigarettes?

  • petitefleur921

    Such a good point you make. You sound like St. Paul…I’ve had less than enough…more than enough…in the end all the same. Contentment and, as you say so well, humility are in the heart. Blessings to you.

  • petitefleur921

    I love St. Bernard…especially the gorgeous words he worte to the hymn,” Jesus, the Very Thought of Thee” so beautiful. I wish I understood the above. If God loves us, why would we want to despise ourselves? And how could we then love others? Doesn’t it seem better to try not to think of ourselves at all? I read something yesterday about how we are so often “haunted” by experiences, people, the past, and me, me, me etc. (I am haunted by my own ridiculous emotions all the time) when only God should “haunt” and obsess our thoughts….but not even the “thought of God” Instead, God Himself. So enmeshed with Him in whom we have our being that we finally overcome the ego and the subconscious darkness that drives us and live in a state of grace…the Light of Christ. So, how can we do this with such a negative sense of self? I ask as one who has struggled with being a “victim” my whole life. It didn’t help me to be taught to have a miserable opinion of myself…it kept me in bondage until I found God’s love for me. Sorry to go on…I still struggle to overcome all the inner conflicts this causes. The most genuinely humble people I have been privileged to know seem to respect themselves and others…they just don’t seem to think about themselves…except as beloved by their Creator and in love and fascinated with Him and everyone around them :)

  • petitefleur921

    This seems so silly to me. I believe the Lord said, not so much to Peter personally but to all who would say, “You are the Messiah, the Son of God” on this understanding, given as a gift from God, He builds His Church.

  • petitefleur921

    I don’t know about the flood, but I do know that to this day, people all over the country still benefit from the all the public libraries he founded.

  • Julian Lord

    Our parish curate and his vicar are both Jesuits, as is our Holy Father.

    Of the three, the only slight deviation from orthodoxy I’ve seen so far is our vicar’s occasional tendency to add a slight dash of liberalism into his homilies.

    I’ve certainly seen no “wholesale betrayal of the Church, Papacy and Faith” on their part !!!!

  • Alba

    Is poverty something to embraced as a lifestyle or something to be challenged? Those who are in fact poor see nothing glorious or spiritually enriching in the condition. The idea that the material is “sinful” is itself heresy, dualism in fact. Pope Francis is inspired by the holy man of Assisi, fine, if that turns him on. However, as Supreme Pontiff he exercises a function which transcends the individual. We believe the office he holds to be a divinely instituted one. Let it reflect the majesty and authority of the divine and not transitory geopolitical notions. If he is uncomfortable with the office, as some have observed, why did he accept? Do we really want a hairshirted puritan anyway. I think there is more Zeitgeist à la 60s than Heiligegeist in this choice. Papa Ratzinger we do miss you!

  • Mitsy

    Father, It would also be healthy to be able to separate work from home and to mix with people that are not part of the Curia. Maybe he is not comfortable having servants and wants to carry on looking after himself, cooking for himself…And he is also staying true to his vows as a Jesuit…The vow of poverty.

  • franklier

    I remember reading that Cardinal Wolsey was found to be wearing a hair shirt under all his finery, discovered when they were preparing his body for burial. He had been summoned back to London by Henry the Eighth for probable execution and died during the journey. This seems to suggest that in spite of all the historians’ criticism of his pompous lifestyle, the cardinal chose to suffer a lot of discomfort.

  • scary goat

    A lot of Arab countries are also wary of aid. They feel it is a way to control them by dependency and debt.

  • IBL

    I don’t think it’s the “Humility” as Much as it’s
    Overrated. I think the Pope doesn’t want to Live in the Papal Apartments, possibly of Fear he will Be Poisoned to Death, Like they Did to Pope John Paul I.

  • Dr Falk

    Dear petitefleur,

    I’m afraid the words about wanting the world to despise us are part of an old spirituality which was I am afraid very wrong and came from a worldview that treated all of us as nothing but miserable filthy sinners. If you think how could you apply these words? If you went into a cafe tomorrow for a coffee you would have to desire that all the staff and customers despised you. This can’t be God’s will for us. This has nothing to do with God or true spirituality. You are right. God loves you just as you are – he loves us all too much to leave us that way and works in us for change and perfection. Please remember – God made you – he never makes rubbish – only quality.You are His child – his beloved and dear child – you are ever in His Mind and Heart. You are right about humble people. They forget themselves rather than going around wanting other people to despise them. C S Lewis said ‘ The essence of gospel – humility is not thinking more of myself or thinking less of myself,it is thinking of myself less’. Also to want people to despise us is to want them to sin as despising someone is a sin. Let’s focus on God’s love. St Philip Neri in visiting the dying used to tell them to not look at their faults or what would happen but throw themselves into the wonderful arms of God who is pure Love. Take care,petitfleur, and God bless.

  • petitefleur921

    Thank you for your compassionate words. One of the phrases of the hymn I mentioned is, “How kind you are to those who seek.” That is what the Lord asks of us…to seek Him. He is love and St. Paul tells us what this means so beautifully. I suppose we are still too close to Vatican II to understand its real impact. But, for me, in my life and as a hospice chaplain, its meaning is simply that all theology must first be pastoral. All else flows from this. Love is the highest order of all things created and Creator…thank you so very much for the reminder…and the challenge! Blessings to you as well.

  • Dr Falk

    Thank you for your kind words and deep explanation. Let’s all try to put that great compassionate Love at the heart of everything. God bless you,

  • inquisitor

    “Pope Francis” is a long debate.

    Francis made a very wise decision,
    sleeping in the guest house.

    With Francis as Pope, the answer is an easy one:
    “A heretic shouldn’t become Pope in the first place!”.

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