MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A silver bell rang inside the Basilica of Saint Mary as part of a mass to celebrate the installation of Pope Francis.

It is a symbol that dates back to the Middle Ages, when the bell rang to signal the pope’s arrival. Another symbol that was part of the procession today, was an umbrella.

“Those two elements are symbols of a basilica,” the Basilica’s director of liturgy and the arts Johan van Parys said.

In the Middle Ages, the bell would ring and people would come out to greet the pope.

“And then at the receiving church, the youngest cleric would be ready with an umbrella to open it up and to hold it above the pope and walk him into the church,” van Parys said.

The umbrella remains permanently open.

“The basilica is the pope’s church in an area, and so it’s half open because it’s a permanent signal that this church is waiting for the pope,” van Parys said.

So what are the chances that Pope Francis would make a visit? Van Parys said, with a smile, “Since he’s a pope of many firsts, who knows?”


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