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Urbi et Orbi ("to the City [of Rome] and to the World") was a standard opening of Roman proclamations. The term is now used to denote a papal address and Apostolic Blessing that is addressed to the City of Rome and to the entire world.
The blessing takes place at each Easter and Christmas celebration in Rome from the central loggia of St. Peter's Basilica. Part of the urbi et orbi blessing is the remission of all temporal punishment due to sin through a plenary indulgence attached to the Papal blessing.
The blessings at Christmas and Easter are broadcast throughout the world by the European Broadcasting Union. The remission and forgiveness of sins is not only granted to the people in St. Peter's Square but also to Catholics watching the ceremony on television and listening on radio. Before this blessing the Pope gives an address to the crowd and to the world, with seasonal greetings in many of the major world languages.
The main phrase of the blessing ends Et benedictio Dei omnipotentis, Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti descendat super vos et maneat semper (And may the blessing of Almighty God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, descend on you and remain with you always).
Latin Text of the Blessing
The text of blessing in Latin is:
Sancti Apostoli Petrus et Paulus: de quorum potestate et auctoritate confidimus ipsi intercedant pro nobis ad Dominum.
Precibus et meritis beatæ Mariae semper Virginis, beati Michaelis Archangeli, beati Ioannis Baptistæ, et sanctorum Apostolorum Petri et Pauli et omnium Sanctorum misereatur vestri omnipotens Deus; et dimissis omnibus peccatis vestris, perducat vos Iesus Christus ad vitam æternam.
Indulgentiam, absolutionem et remissionem omnium peccatorum vestrorum, spatium verae et fructuosae poenitentiæ, cor semper penitens, et emendationem vitae, gratiam et consolationem Sancti Spiritus; et finalem perseverantiam in bonis operibus tribuat vobis omnipotens et misericors Dominus.
Et benedictio Dei omnipotentis, Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti descendat super vos et maneat semper.
The approximate English translation is as follows:
Through the prayers and merits of the Blessed Mary ever-virgin, of Blessed Michael the Archangel, of Blessed John the Baptist, and of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and of all the saints, may Almighty God have mercy on you, and with your sins forgiven, may Jesus Christ lead you into everlasting life.
May the Almighty and merciful Lord grant you indulgence, absolution, and remission of all your sins, time for a true and fruitful penance, an always repentant heart and amendment of life, the grace and consolation of the Holy Spirit, and final perseverance in good works.
And may the blessing of Almighty God, + the Father, + the Son, and + the Holy Spirit, descend on you and remain with you always.
- St. Peter's Basilica—Holy Thursday, Easter, the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, and at the Papal Coronation
- St. John Lateran—Ascension (sometimes this was postponed until Pentecost), and when a new pope was enthroned as Bishop of Rome
- St. Mary Major—Assumption
After the occupation, Pope Pius IX considered himself a "Prisoner in the Vatican" and in protest ceased to give the blessing. The practice was later resumed, though in a more limited manner, following the resolution of the so-called "Roman Question" (i.e., the legal relationship between the Vatican and the Italian government).
Pope 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.
- Urbi et Orbi article from The Catholic Encyclopedia
- "Apostolic Blessing". The Catholic Encyclopedia. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/02602a.htm.
- Audio of Pope John Paul I's first Urbi et Orbi blessing following his election as Pope
- Pope John Paul II's Urbi et Orbi messages
- Pope Benedict XVI's Urbi et Orbi messagesbr:Urbi et orbi
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