Pope's global message: the Urbi et Orbi

The Urbi et Orbi message and blessing is one of the best-known rites of the Roman Catholic Church, delivered by popes at least twice a year, at Christmas and Easter.

Urbi et Orbi means "to the city and to the world" in Latin. It was a standard formula for public announcements in ancient Rome, and was adopted by the Vatican in the 13th century, under Pope Gregory X.

The address is delivered from the central balcony of St Peter's Basilica, also after the election of a new pope.

Pontiffs usually use the occasion to call for world peace; John Paul II used to deliver the message in several languages, but Francis usually sticks to Italian only.

The Urbi et Orbi also offers a pardon for sins. It is valid for people who attend the ceremony in St Peter's Square, but also for those who remotely follow proceedings, which are broadcast worldwide on radio and television.

Last update: Sun, 27/03/2016 - 12:13

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