Who Moved the Candles?

Sure wonder what’s going on over there.

Mail Online has an article with loads of pictures of the inauguration Mass of Pope Francis yesterday , including the set-up work.

Here is the altar being set up:


As you see, the candles were put in the so-called “Benedictine” arrangement, the idea of Benedict XVI to set up a sort of wall across the front of the altar.

But by the time Mass started, someone moved the candles off to the side at angles.

What do you suppose transpired behind the scenes between then and then? And why?

Pope Francis is obviously behind the change, since this all began only since he was elected. But I can’t imagine a pope running around in the sacristy with a liturgy checklist before his inauguration Mass. Maybe he had given the direction “From now on…” earlier, the work crew didn’t know this, and Msgr. Marini’s people caught it in time?

Curious, and interesting.

19 comments

  1. Another curious change was the order of service: the booklet indicated that the imposition of the pallium, giving of the ring and the “obedience” would take place first, and THEN the Mass would begin (with the introit of the Mass for St. Joseph and the incensing of the altar). However, those rites took place in between the Greeting and the Confiteor, and the Laudes Regiae were cut off semi-abruptly.

    Pope Francis didn’t strike me as the kind of person who would have a strong preference for moving it a few minutes off, but maybe he did? I wonder why, though.

  2. I suspect that Msgr. Marini forgot to tell the flunkies who put them there about the discreet conversation Msgr. Marini had with Pope Francis about the Franciscan altar arrangement and when he noticed that he forgot to tell them and in a panic he had them replace the Benedictine arrangement with the Franciscan one. 🙂 In addition to the Sistine chapel Mass it was also the case at Saint Ann’s on Sunday. The crucifix remains central for the time being.

    1. @Fr. Allan J. McDonald – comment #3:
      Alternatively, Marini *did* tell them how to set things up, and *they* forgot.

      But re the top photo, seeing the person climbing a ladder in his ankle length attire makes me nervous. That’s an accident waiting to happen.

  3. My best guess: the camera crews pleaded with the sacristans to re-arrange it and were yielded to. Remember, for as much as people like to cite Benedict’s famed arrangement, it’s a johnny-come-lately. There was no “Benedictine arrangement” at Benedict’s installation. In fact, the candles weren’t even on the altar! They were on the ground, far, far away from the altar. The last pope to have the “Benedictine arrangement” at his installation was Paul VI in 1963.

    1. @James Murphy – comment #4:
      Yes and no.
      It’s a johnny-come-lately in the sense that Benedictine didn’t change anything at first, he waited some time to change a little, and then at some point he sped up the retrievals and restorations. He didn’t want to change everything at once, the way Pope Francis now is apparently doing.
      awr

  4. A number of the more recent Masses celebrated by BXVI had the altar candles at the 45 degree angle – certainly as recently as Christmas 2012. I wonder whether both ‘sides’ aren’t looking rather too hard to find signs of rupture, rather like yesterday’s comments about Mgr Marini’s lace, or lack thereof – there being no shortage of photos of him with minimal lace during the previous pontificate. Personally I was more surprised to see the 7th candle still in situ.

  5. This reminds me of the doings in the Pauline Chapel in regard to the altar cross within minutes of Papa Montini’s return to God. Only in Roma!

  6. Anthony Ruff, OSB : @James Murphy – comment #4:Yes and no.It’s a johnny-come-lately in the sense that Benedictine didn’t change anything at first, he waited some time to change a little, and then at some point he sped up the retrievals and restorations. He didn’t want to change everything at once, the way Pope Francis now is apparently doing.awr

    You’re right, but even so, Father, the so-called “Benedictine arrangement” had a variety of presentations. Images of Benedict’s liturgies in the last two years of his pontificate show the seven candles arranged in different ways. They weren’t always set up straight across the altar in a line. They were often arranged the way they were for Francis’ inauguration, so the arrangement on Francis’ altar doesn’t really represent a change to what was done during Benedict’s time. It may represent a preference for one of the several types of “Benedictine” arrangements over the others, but it doesn’t represent a departure.

  7. Isn’t the simple answer here that they put the candlesticks across the front of the altar so that they could reach to put the rather large, heavy candles in them, before moving them into their intended positions?

    1. @Thomas Dalby – comment #9:

      I’m confident that I’m not the only one to think, “Huh?” With the weight of those candlesticks, wouldn’t it make more sense that they be placed in the position they were intended to have at the Mass before the candles were placed in them?

  8. I will be grateful when the ‘rupture’ ‘continuity’ language dies under this papacy. It was an un-needed, and quite frankly, destructive, verbal-conceptual invention. The life of the church, and the liturgy, moves on through time. Sometimes its collects junk, sometimes it sheds. Sometimes lace is just lace and is ugly, nothing more. Thank God Francis is talking about something that matters and that might just tweak the common person’s heart. Maybe he can turn the rudders of the Titanic while the rest of us re-arrange altar candles.

    1. @J. Thomas – comment #11:
      I totally agree with J. Thomas, all these slogans of the past 8 years just lead to a lot of group think and stop all dialogue. it seems to me that it may be a good hundred years before one to will see some form of renewal that is “received” by the church.

      the liturgy it not subject to programs, trends, ideologies etc from the right or the left. it is much more organic, and grows at deeper level. the growth is more hidden, silent, yet persistent and will reach its maturity at its own pace. the most important thing we can do is to contribute our gifts, keep the big picture, be patient, and provide an atmosphere of real charity……the rest will work out. IMHO

  9. Anthony Ruff, OSB : @James Murphy – comment #4: Yes and no. It’s a johnny-come-lately in the sense that Benedictine didn’t change anything at first, he waited some time to change a little, and then at some point he sped up the retrievals and restorations. He didn’t want to change everything at once, the way Pope Francis now is apparently doing. awr

    Yes, probably. Hopefully before long the hardware will be back in storage where it belongs.

  10. Cardinal Bergoglio was using the three-candles-at-an-angle arrangement before the papacy of Benedict XVI even began. You can see that here in a Mass held at the cathedral in Buenos Aires after JPII’s death — and actually, there are four candles on the left-hand side, to total seven for the ordinary celebrating within his diocese. This remains the standard altar arrangement in Buenos Aires to this day.

    1. @Dwayne Bartles – comment #16:
      With Spanish hymns and carols with no Latin propers for cardinal Bergolio’s Christmas midnight Mass. He carried the bambino in the recession to the creche in the rear of his cathedral after everyone went up front to kiss the statues.
      As I recall some parts of the Mass were in Latin. I came away with the impression he’s a thoroughly Novus Ordo loving bishop. Never did I see him or any priest in Argentina celebrate a Mass ad orientem.

  11. This candles-at-an-angle thing is not new, we have been seeing it for several months now. See, for instance, this video of the 2012 Christmas Eve Papal Mass at St. Peter’s.

  12. Fussiness is an occupational hazard for liturgists. It’s meticulous work that, if not watched, can turn into a vice. I too watch Francis’ every liturgical move, trying to divine what will only be revealed in due time. As others have already noted, altar candles on an angle was not uncommon practice with Benedict XVI. I honestly doubt if Francis said a word. When you work for a pastor, like Monsignor Marini has plenty of experience doing, you learn to anticipate his style and preferences. Most things don’t need to be said directly. Marini is more aware than any of us that he’s working for a different pope. So what do you do? You change … In as much as is reasonable possible, without much fuss.

    Here is my prediction, similar to another comment I made on this blog. Jesuits of a certain age were formed with a liturgical sensibility that will greatly impact Francis’ liturgical style. It has both, plenty of pros and cons. We can expect to see a strong distaste for anything the pope perceives as “fussiness.” Typical Jesuit liturgical practice (not that of the many Jesuit liturgists) could be called “anti-fuss” or minimalist. What exactly that means will be seen with time. My guess is also that he may make the occasional misstep (as human beings a prone to do) and return to some practice that he previously rejected.

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