What Is the Urbi et Orbi Blessing?

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Currents News Staff

Pope Francis has decided to deliver the ‘Urbi et Orbi’ blessing this Friday, March 27, in light of the ongoing pandemic keeping the world indoors, and Catholics away from physically receiving the sacraments.

“The ‘Urbi et Orbi’ blessing is known as the papal blessing. The newly elected pontiff imparts it from the benediction loggia of St. Peter’s Basilica. It is given to the city of Rome and the Catholic world spread throughout the globe. The same blessing is given on the day of the Nativity of the Lord and on Easter Sunday of the Resurrection,” said Dr. Johannes Grohe of
Pontifical University of the Holy Cross.

The blessing dates back to the time of the Roman Empire. Over the years, it was extended to the entire Catholic population.

“The formula of the words, ‘Urbs et Orbis,’ is first seen in the title of the Lateran basilica: ‘omnium Urbis et orbis ecclesiarum Mater et Caput.’ These words mark the first cathedral church, built in Rome during the time of Emperor Constantine,” said Grohe.

On this particular occasion, the blessing is considered extraordinary because it is given outside one of the three traditional moments.

“Even this March 27, as indicated by the Vatican press office, everyone who unites spiritually to this moment of prayer, through media platforms, will be granted a plenary indulgence, in accordance with the conditions indicated in the recent decree from the Apostolic Penitentiary,” said Grohe.

To obtain the indulgence, it is important to have a sincere intention of going to confession and receiving the Eucharist as soon as possible.