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Urbi et Orbi

A term used to signify that a papal document is addressed not only to the City of Rome but to the entire Catholic world

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Urbi et Orbi (which means “for the city and for the world”): a term used to signify that a papal document is addressed not only to the City of Rome but to the entire Catholic world. This phrase is applied especially to the solemn blessing with plenary indulgence which, before the occupation of Rome, the pope was accustomed to impart on certain occasions from the balcony of the chief basilicas of the city. This blessing was given annually at St. Peter’s on Holy Thursday, Easter, and the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul; at St. John Lateran on the Ascension; at St. Mary Major on the Assumption. It was imparted also on extraordinary occasions, as at St. Peter’s when the pope was crowned, at St. John’s when he was enthroned, at various times during the holy year, or jubilee, for the benefit of pilgrims. The blessing Urbi et Orbi of Ascension Day was sometimes postponed till Pentecost on account of the inclemency of the weather, illness of the pope, etc. Innocent X in the jubilee of 1650 on the Epiphany, Pentecost, and All Saints, as well as later popes, including Pope Pius IX, for special reasons, gave this solemn blessing from the balcony of the Quirinal Palace.

ANDREW B. MEEHAN


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