On Sunday, January 29, Cardinal Joseph Tobin celebrated Mass at and took possession of his “titular” church in Rome, Santa Maria delle Grazie a Via Triofale (Saint Mary of the Graces), located close by St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums.
According to Church tradition, a cardinal is considered an honorary member of the clergy of the Diocese of Rome. Each cardinal is given a title to a church in the city, serving in a sense as its honorary pastor. A cardinal’s relationship with that church continues until his death, even after he may have retired from ministry. As a sign of that relationship, a cardinal will periodically celebrate liturgies there and contribute financially to its upkeep or ministries that it sponsors.
Many titular churches in Rome are centuries old, adorned with works of art by the world’s greatest artists and have a long list of cardinals who have had them as their titular church. However, Saint Mary of the Graces was constructed in 1941. It is a busy urban parish church with a lively parish life, including several Masses celebrated each day. Cardinal Tobin is only the second cardinal to have a relationship with Santa Maria delle Grazie. The first was Cardinal Silvio Piovanelli, archbishop of Florence, Italy, who passed away in 2016.
More information about Cardinal Tobin’s titular church is available on the parish website at: