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Report: Pope Francis getting massages, injections for sciaticaThough it's not life-threatening and doesn't impede the pontiff from fulfilling the duties of his office, sciatica, a nerve disorder that produces pain in the back and leg, has long hobbled Pope Francis. A new magazine report suggests that over the summer, Francis is receiving massages and injections twice a week to manage the condition.According to an Aug. 10 report in the widely read Italian news magazine Famiglia Cristiana, Pope Francis is spending part of his reduced summer schedule in 2017 seeking treatment for a sciatica condition that continues to irritate him.As part of that regime, according to the magazine, the 80-year-old pontiff is receiving both massages and injections twice a week in order to reduce pain in his leg. The account did not offer details of who’s delivering the treatments, or where they’re taking place.So far the Vatican has not commented on the report, and traditionally takes the position that such matters pertain to the pope’s private life.Pope Francis first revealed that he suffers from sciatica, a nerve condition usually resulting from the herniation of a spinal disk, in 2013, during an in-flight press conference on his return from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, following a World Youth Day celebration.In response to a question about his health, Francis said, “The worst thing that happened - excuse me - was an attack of sciatica - really! - that I had the first month, because I was sitting in an armchair to do interviews and it hurt. Sciatica is very painful, very painful! I don’t wish it on anyone!”Generally speaking, the pain caused by sciatica is confined to one side of the body and is felt in the back and leg, although under some circumstances it may occur on both sides. To be clear, the condition is not life-threatening, and there’s no indication it prevents the pontiff from carrying out the responsibilities of his office.Pope Francis is legendary for not taking summer breaks, and, according to the Famiglia Cristiana report, that habit easily pre-dates his papacy. In fact, he’s said that he last took what most people would describe as a summer vacation, meaning going away somewhere, in 1975, well before he was even a bishop and shortly after he took his final vows as a member of the Jesuit order.During a return flight from South Korea in 2014, he said: “The last time I took a vacation outside of Buenos Aires, with the Jesuit community, was in 1975. I do always take a vacation - really - but in my habitat; I change pace. I sleep more; I read the things I want; I listen to music; I spend more time praying…And this makes me relax.”As part of that summer down time, the magazine reports, the pontiff has been taking treatments for his condition during each of the last two summers, in order to be better prepared to carry out his responsibilities during the coming year.In 2007, journalist Massimo Franco reported for the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera that then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires had visited a Roman physician named Valter Santilli for treatment of the disorder.According to Franco’s report, Santilli said he had told Bergoglio that sciatica is a “prophetic disease.” When Bergoglio asked why, Santilli reportedly said:“Because in the Book of Genesis in the Old Testament, in chapter 23, there’s the episode of Jacob’s struggle with the angel, who touched his sciatic nerve, on the hip joint, and that night, after his sciatic problem, the Lord changed his name to Israel.”“You see,” Santilli continued to Bergoglio, “after your sciatic problem, the Lord will change your name too.”According to Famiglia Cristiana, Santilli adds now that Pope Francis called him shortly after his election in March 2013, after the two hadn’t seen one another for some time.“One morning, my cell phone went off and the caller presented him like this: ‘Professor Santilli?’” he said.“I replied, ‘Yes, who’s this?’”“The response was the following: ‘I used to be called Jorge Mario Bergoglio, but the Lord has changed my name and now I’m called Pope Francis!’”Francis’s next scheduled public event will come on Sunday, when he delivers the traditional noontime Angelus address. He’s currently set to depart Sept. 6 for a five-day overseas trip to Colombia.
Crux - Pope Francis has said he will travel to El Salvador to canonize Blessed Oscar Romero.Cardinal Gregorio Rosa Chávez, the auxiliary bishop of San Salvador, said the pope confirmed his intentions during a phone conversation on Sunday evening.The cardinal made the announcement in a short post on his Facebook page. He said he would give more details in the coming days.Romero was the Archbishop of San Salvador, and was gunned down after decrying government brutality in 1980. He was beatified in 2015.Rosa Chávez was a collaborator and friend of the slain archbishop, and was created a cardinal by Francis on June 28.In an interview with Vatican Radio, the postulator of Romero’s cause, Italian Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, said the canonization could happen as early as next year.Paglia said the Vatican’s Congregation for Saints’ Causes will soon be presenting its review of an alleged miracle attributed to the intercession of Romero to the pope, which is the final step before a decree of canonization can be issued.Paglia, who is the president of the Vatican’s Academy for Life, said during a special Mass in honor of Romero on August 12 that he hopes that the canonization cause succeeds.“Keeping alive the memory of Romero is a noble task,” the archbishop told the faithful in St. George’s Cathedral in Southwark. “My great hope is that Pope Francis will soon canonize him - a Saint! Over the years, we insisted on Romero being recognized as a martyr.”During the Mass, Paglia paid homage to Romero and “his Gospel witness that brings light to believers and non-believers alike,” for which “As it often happens with prophets, Romero paid with life.“Pope Francis has made it clear that Romero was persecuted even after his death with the opposition to his beatification that many persons mounted,” the archbishop continued.
Crux - Pope Francis has said he will travel to El Salvador to canonize Blessed Oscar Romero.
As Italy empties for summer break, Pope Francis opts for ‘staycation’While being a big fan of the post-lunch siesta, Pope Francis has never adopted the Italian tradition of 'Ferragosto' when people abandon the hot cities and escape to the nearby beaches. The workaholic pope decided instead to spend the summer at his home in the Vatican for what in American argot is called a 'staycation.'ROME - Italy has offered countless contributions to the world in terms of culture, cuisine and history. Yet among the things that inhabitants of the Bel Paese truly have down to a “T” is the fine art of taking it easy.Ferragosto, the Italian summer festivity that falls on the Feast of the Assumption on August 15, is the quintessential celebration of relaxing, laying back and escaping to the nearby crowded beaches. Most Italians stretch Ferragosto into a full week, if not the entire month of August, and in cities such as Rome, restaurants, shops, and other places of business just shut down.While many expats have picked up, in one way or another, the slow Italian pace, one notable Roman resident seems to have remained completely immune: Pope Francis.“It’s so hard to learn how to rest!” the pope admitted to Roman priests in a homily in 2015.It does often seem that this ‘Type A pope’ is immune to the Italian expression con calma (“take it easy”). Francis has notably never taken a break since he started his pontificate in 2013, and the halls of the lakeside summer papal estate in the small Italian town of Castel Gandolfo, where popes took their summer vacations for centuries, have remained empty on his watch.This year, in order to attract tourists who would normally visit the town to catch a glimpse of the pope, the estate has been opened to the public so visitors can see the rooms where a string of pontiffs, including St. John Paul II and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, would retire from the Roman heat.Francis, however, prefers to stay within the air-conditioned rooms at the Casa Santa Marta in the Vatican where he lives. On the way back to Rome from Seoul, South Korea, in 2013, the pope confessed to journalists that he has not gone on a traditional vacation since 1975, when he participated in a Jesuit retreat.So what does this Stakhanovite pope do to wind down? In American argot, we’d say he’s a fan of the “staycation.”“I change rhythm: I sleep longer, read more, listen to music, and this is good for me,” Francis told reporters, adding jokingly, “I have some neuroses, but one must treat neuroses well, give it material.”This year, Francis also has decided to revive the tradition, last enforced by Pope Pius VI in the 18th century, to ask cardinals who live in Rome to notify him of their vacation plans. The request came through a letter signed by the dean of the College of Cardinals, Italian Cardinal Angelo Sodano.The Vatican spokesman, veteran American journalist Greg Burke, told reporters that the move was just “a healthy tradition,” only necessary for organizational reasons. However, others saw it as a not-so-subtle papal warning shot, reminding Princes of the Church to make sure their travel destinations and itineraries are ‘Bergoglio-style’, meaning somber and simple. [As well they should be! They are men of the cloth, not men of leisure!]The pope’s zealous approach to the summer is a long way from the Italian tradition of Ferragosto, which - like any good break - usually stretches lazily to encompass a whole week of outdoor grilling and sun bathing. One could argue that Italians have all that in their blood, since the holiday actually dates all the way back to ancient Rome.In fact, Ferragosto started as an ancient Roman period of repose and celebration honoring the god of the earth and fertility, Consus. After hard work in the fields, Romans would return to their homes to party and relax before beginning the grape harvest.The emperor Augustus, whose name was given to the last summer month, unified the various seasonal festivities in 18 B.C., creating Ferragosto. It later became customary for farmers to make goodwill wishes to their masters on this day in exchange for money and gifts. The break survived through the centuries, to the extent that it was made mandatory during the Renaissance period in the Papal States.The Catholic Church adopted the date of the festival for the Feast of the Assumption, when tradition holds that the Virgin Mary ascended into Heaven in both body and spirit, in anticipation of the universal judgment.It was precisely on Ferragosto in 1483 that Pope Sixtus IV dedicated to the Assumption the newly completed Sistine Chapel, where Michelangelo would later paint his masterpiece of the universal judgment and depict the rise and fall of mankind on its vault.This Ferragosto, Pope Francis is among the very few Romans who actually remain in Rome, where the streets are quiet and roads are devoid of the usual traffic. Most Romans have fled to the beach - carrying large bags filled with enough food to feed a small army - honoring a tradition that was revived and enhanced by none other than a notorious figure, Italian dictator Benito Mussolini.During the late 1920s, Mussolini’s fascist regime created a ‘Popular train of Ferragosto,’ which allowed even those who did not possess much money to visit the beach.So far, Pope Francis has remained untouched by these century-old traditions, and shows no sign of slowing down. Yet, the Argentinian pope has brought to the Vatican a Latin American tradition of his own: The post-lunch siesta (or, as Italians would call it, the riposino, meaning “little rest.”)The pope might not be one for vacationing, but every day after he’s eaten lunch, Francis retires to room 201 at the Domus Santa Marta, the residence on Vatican grounds where he lives, for a 30-minute power nap.“Rest is important for the heath of our mind and body, yet it is so hard to do, because of the many needs that weigh on us,” Francis told faithful in Manila, Philippines in 2015.“Rest is also essential for our spiritual health, so that we may listen to the voice of God and understand what he asks of us,” he said.The pontiff would probably be the first to acknowledge that sometimes it’s not quite in his nature to take his own advice - though especially during Ferragosto, living in Italy does give him a gentle boost in that direction.
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