PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — It may seem like things are back to normal at the Vatican following the election of a new pope of the Catholic Church, but inside the walls heading into the Easter holiday, it is far from normal.
In fact, there is now a strong Pittsburgh connection with Pope Francis.
It became obvious when he first stepped onto the balcony at St. Peter’s Basilica as pope, times had changed and this is going to be a different kind of pope.
“From the moment of his election, turning down some of the more sumptuous vestures of the papacy that he could have worn on his first appearance to the world, Jorge Borgorglio, now Pope Francis, is basically saying I am going to be pope on my own terms, and they are going to be a lot simpler terms than before,” said Rocco Palmo, a blogger.
Palmo writes the daily blog “Whispers in the Loggia” on the Catholic Church, especially about the Vatican. He was one of the first to report that this Pope has chosen to hold his daily Mass at the Chapel of the Holy Spirit.
“It was somewhat overwhelming; I have to be honest with you. Humbly overwhelming to me,” said Lou Astorino, a Pittsburgh architect. “I just had a feeling of peace that came over me and joy. It was humbling.”
That was the reaction of Astorino who designed the Chapel of the Holy Spirit. He is the only American to ever design and construct a building inside the Vatican.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I think a pope would be saying Mass there,” said Astorino. “It’s just a phenomenal feeling to see that. And to find out that he enjoys it, that it’s a restful, peaceful place for him, really, just touches my heart.”
But it is not just the Pittsburgh connected chapel the new pope has chosen to use.
He has also decided to live, not in the Apostolic Palace, but rather in the Vatican “hotel,” the Domus Sanctae Marthae. It’s another building Astorino played a part in designing.
“It’s a place where he feels comfortable, he’s happy, and where he is not isolated,” Both in the Chapel of the Holy Spirit and the Domus Sanctae Marthae, the Pope feels… wants from the onset of his pontificate, wants a sense of community, wants a sense of home, wants a sense of family. And that is the place he can have it.”
While it is called a “hotel,” the Domus is off-limits to the average visitor.
It is nestled inside the Vatican and it is used mainly by visiting hierarchy of the clergy.