Cardinals gather for prayer amid pre-conclave meetings

Cardinals attend a prayer service with eucharistic adoration in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican March 6. More than 100 cardinals gathered in front of Bernini's statue, "The Chair of St. Peter," for the evening service. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
Cardinals attend a prayer service with eucharistic adoration in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican March 6. More than 100 cardinals gathered in front of Bernini’s statue, “The Chair of St. Peter,” for the evening service. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Seated under Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s statue “Chair of St. Peter,” which celebrates the teaching authority of the pope, more than 100 cardinals gathered March 6 to pray as they prepared to elect a successor to Pope Benedict XVI.

Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, left, and Italian Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco of Genoa, right, are seen before a prayer service with eucharistic adoration in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican March 6. Also pictured is Cardinal Ruben Salazar Gomez of Bogota, Colombia, center. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, left, and Italian Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco of Genoa, right, are seen before a prayer service with eucharistic adoration in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican March 6. Also pictured is Cardinal Ruben Salazar Gomez of Bogota, Colombia, center. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

The cardinals began their prayer in St. Peter’s Basilica with the recitation of the rosary in Latin, but with the announcement of the glorious mysteries in Italian.

Although space was limited in front of the Altar of the Chair, the cardinals invited the public to join them.

Singing the eucharistic hymn “Jesus, Dulcis Memoria,” the cardinals began a period of eucharistic adoration. The first verse of the hymn in English is: “Jesus, the very thought of thee with sweetness fills the breast! Yet sweeter far thy face to see and in thy presence rest.”

Then they knelt in silent adoration.

After five full minutes, they began evening prayer, led by Cardinal Angelo Comastri, archpriest of the basilica.

The reading was from St. Paul’s Letter to the Philippians: “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling. For God is the one who, for his good purpose, works in you both to desire and to work.”

Among the petitions, the cardinals prayed that God, who had given Christ as the shepherd for his flock, always would ensure his people had the obedient and diligent pastors they need.

The prayer service ended with eucharistic Benediction.

— By Cindy Wooden Catholic News Service