Keeler is assigned church designed by Michaelangelo THE CARDINAL FROM BALTIMORE

November 24, 1994|By Dan Rodricks | Dan Rodricks,Sun Staff Writer

ROME -- When he becomes Baltimore's third cardinal at the Vatican Saturday, Archbishop William H. Keeler will be granted as his titular church here the Church of Santa Maria degli Angeli, designed by Michaelangelo and the dominant structure in the famous Piazza della Repubblica.

"We feel privileged to have this church assigned as our title," Archbishop Keeler told more than 400 guests at a dinner he gave at the Villa Pamphilli.

As a young priest in the mid-1950s, Archbishop Keeler celebrated some of his first Masses in the church and led a pilgrimage there in 1977.

"It houses the tomb of Pius IV," the cardinal-designate told his audience.

Titular churches are honorary home churches for cardinals when they are in Rome. Baltimore's two previous cardinals, James Gibbons and Lawrence Shehan, had as titular churches the Church of Santa Maria in Trastevere and the Church of San Clemente, respectively. Archbishop Keeler is to celebrate Mass at those churches today and tomorrow.

The archbishop told those joining him here that he had met with church officials yesterday to learn more about the availability of tickets for the Consistory, the elevation ceremony to be held in the papal Audience Hall Saturday morning.

"This is one of the largest consistories in recent times, perhaps in history," Archbishop Keeler said. "There are 8,500 seats available, but there are 30 cardinals."

And if each of them is allowed 500 tickets, that's much more than the scheduled capacity. Archbishop Keeler promised to secure as many tickets as possible, but it appeared to be understood that not everyone may get to see firsthand his elevation to the College of Cardinals.

The archbishop also allowed that among the many errands he ran on the first day of his trip here was a quick stop at the famous Gammarelli tailor shop in downtown Rome.

Since the late 18th century, the Gammarelli family has been making ecclesiastical apparel, including the stunning scarlet vestments of cardinals. Archbishop Keeler's measurements are on file at the shop.

"I went there today to see if things will fit," the grinning archbishop said. "Perhaps in a day or two, they will."

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