Vatican City, Jan 14, 2021 / 17:45 pm
Pope Francis might soon choose a new Archpriest of St. Peter's Basilica, to replace Cardinal Angelo Comastri, who turned 77 in September. His replacement, according to Vatican observers, may bring a broader generational change that could involve at least five Vatican dicasteries.
Comastri, who had a private audience with Pope Francis on Jan. 11, is a well-known preacher whose books are good sellers. During the lockdown due to the pandemic, Cardinal Comastri began to pray the rosary at noon in St. Peter's Basilica.
St. John Paul II appointed Comastri as his general vicar for the Vatican City State, President of the Fabric of St. Peter, and coadjutor Archpriest of St. Peter's Basilica in 2005. In 2006, Benedict XVI appointed Comastri Archpriest of the St. Peter's Basilica. He succeeded Cardinal Francesco Marchisano.
One clue of Comastri's upcoming retirement is Pope Francis' decision to postpone the election of the members of the Chapter of St. Peter, the college of priests that governs the Basilica under the guidance of the archpriest. The elections were supposed to take place at the end of the summer or during the fall, but the Pope asked to hold them after Jan. 11.
The Archpriest of St. Peter's Basilica is in charge of the worship and pastoral activity of the basilica. The position is very ancient and has always been assigned to a cardinal. Since 1991, the Archpriest of the St. Peter's Basilica is also the Pope's vicar for the Vatican City State.
The position is important not only because the Archpriest is one of the Pope's closest collaborators, but also because he manages and organizes the worship of the most emblematic temple in the Catholic world.
St. Peter's Basilica includes 45 altars and 11 chapels, while the Vatican Grotto has several Marian chapels.
The daily Mass schedule in St. Peter's Basilica lists one Mass per hour from 9 to 12 am, in Italian, at the Altar of the Chair. There is another Mass in Italian at 8.30 am at the altar of the Most Holy Sacrament, while every day at 5 pm, there is a Mass in Latin.