Thursday, December 17, 2015

Treasure Chest Thursday: The Papal Benediction

In early 1980, I heard (probably from our parish priest or one of the teaching nuns) that Roman Catholics could request a papal benediction for events like wedding anniversaries. I decided to submit a letter asking for this privilege, with the idea that I would give the document to my parents Maurice and Jacqueline for their 25th wedding anniversary later that year.

Thirty-five years have gone by, and I’ve pretty much forgotten most of the details about that time. For example, did I write a free-form letter or did I have to fill out a special form; did I sent it through the diocese or directly to the Vatican; was there a cost or was it free?

A few months later, I received an envelope from Rome. If I remember correctly, the colourful document came rolled. The text, done in calligraphy, is written with red and black inks. It features the Papal seal (in the lower left centre). The parchment measures about 25.5 cm x 33 cm (about 10” x 13”).

As I read the text, I was surprised to see that the author gave an incorrect last name for my parents (“Melvin” instead of “Belair”). I couldn’t give the certificate to Mom and Dad the way it was, so I approached one of our church’s nuns to see if she had any suggestions. She knew a local artist who might be able to make the necessary correction. I gave her the certificate and kept my fingers crossed.

After the document was altered, I took it to an art and framing store in a nearby town. All that was left now was to gift wrap the newly-framed blessing and present it to my parents, which I did on their anniversary on December 18, 1980. They were very surprised, but also very happy, to receive such a special and unexpected gift.

If you’d like information about papal benedictions, visit Office of Papal Charities – Vatican City.

Copyright © 2015, Yvonne Demoskoff.

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