By Paulina Guzik
(OSV News) — Monthly adoration has become a new normal for pilgrims visiting St. Peter’s Square. For Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, papal almoner, who led a monthly Vatican outdoor Holy Hour May 9, adoration is a crucial hour of any day.
“St. Peter’s Basilica is finally becoming a sanctuary, not merely a touristy place,” he told OSV News. “The Vatican is full of people throughout the day, but after 7 p.m., when the basilica closes, the square empties and people go to enjoy the restaurants.”
With adoration, which the cardinal said will most likely happen on a weekly basis in the future, “the square reminds everyone even in the evening that it’s a holy place of prayer,” he said.
Monthly Holy Hours at St. Peter’s Square began March 14 and take place every second Tuesday of the month from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. in front of St. Peter’s Basilica.
“There is no homily, only three fragments of the Gospel are being read and we meditate in front of Eucharistic Jesus,” Cardinal Krajewski, who distributes the Vatican’s charity funds on behalf of the pope, told OSV News.
The first adoration, on March 14, was led by Cardinal Mauro Gambetti, a Franciscan who is archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica. “Cardinal Gambetti, as former custodian of the General Custody of the Sacred Convent of St. Francis in Assisi knows how crucial prayer is for places of tourist interest,” the papal almoner said.
Every month, a different cardinal is asked to lead the adoration on St. Peter’s Square. For Cardinal Krajewski, daily adorations are “key.”
“Adoration is like sunbathing — you let the sun shine on you, as you truly are,” he told OSV News. “The monstrance is in the shape of the sun. When we sunbathe, we don’t say anything, we just put our face toward the sun in silence, and it’s the sun shining on us,” the cardinal stressed.
“So adoration is to charge our batteries in silence. Silence speaks in adoration, during which God sees us in truth, because in front of God, there is no possibility to fake anything, we just kneel there as we are,” Cardinal Krajewski said.
“Yesterday on St. Peter’s Square there was not a single cellphone ringing. What does it mean? That we need that silence for our spiritual life, that we long for it, that’s why we come for adoration.”
Cardinal Krajewski said he learned from Pope Francis that an hour of adoration daily is crucial for him personally to “stay in the line of the Gospel. To start to think and act according to the logic of the Gospel.”
“Choosing adoration on St. Peter’s Square to be held on a Tuesday, Pope Francis sends a signal — meeting with the pope comes on Wednesdays, during the general audience, but meeting Christ comes first,” Cardinal Krajewski told OSV News.
The papal almoner stressed that different people were telling Pope Francis that the basilica cannot become merely a museum. “It had to be a place of prayer. And the square — in which we witnessed the funeral of St. John Paul II and recently Benedict XVI, the place in which we see the new pope for the first time, but first and foremost, a burial place for so many first Christians — just has to be a place of prayer.
“Adoration calms you down because you let God look at you, and that’s the biggest strengthening you can get, because you get a sense of what is God’s will and differentiate it from your own,” Cardinal Krajewski said. “For the first Holy Hour, 2,000 people came. And there will be more for sure.”