Urbi et Orbi

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Not to be confused with the "Episcopal Blessing" which is also called the "Papal Blessing" or "Apostolic Blessing".

Urbi et Orbi ("to the City [of Rome] and to the World") denotes a papal address and Apostolic Blessing given to the City of Rome and to the entire world on certain occasions. It was a standard opening of Ancient Roman proclamations.

Occasions for imparting the blessing[edit]

The blessing is given each Easter and Christmas in Rome from the central loggia of Saint Peter's Basilica, at noontime. Part of the urbi et orbi blessing is the remission of all temporal punishment due to sin through a plenary indulgence attached to the Papal blessing.

The blessings at Christmas and Easter are broadcast throughout the world by the European Broadcasting Union. The indulgence and remission of venial sins is not only granted to the people in Saint Peter's Square but also to Catholics watching the ceremony of the newly imparted pope on television and listening on radio.[1] Before this blessing the Pope gives an address to the crowd and to the world, with seasonal greetings in many of the major world languages.

Urbi et orbi is also used at St. Peter's at the Papal inauguration and formerly when popes were crowned, at the papal coronation. On very rare occasions, it is used as the blessing of pilgrims and during the Holy Year (Jubilee). It is also the blessing usually given by a new pope when he first appears at the central loggia of St. Peter's Basilica following his election.[a] It was also imparted by Cardinal Marc Ouellet after the opening and closing mass during the 50th International Eucharistic Congress.

The main phrase of the blessing ends Et benedictio Dei omnipotentis, Pa + tris, et Fi + lii, et Spiritus + Sancti descendat super vos et maneat semper (And may the blessing of Almighty God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, descend on you and remain with you always).

Latin text of the Blessing[edit]

The text of blessing in Latin is:

Sancti Apostoli Petrus et Paulus: de quorum potestate et auctoritate confidimus, ipsi intercedant pro nobis ad Dominum.

  • R: Amen.

Precibus et meritis beatae Mariae semper Virginis, beati Michaelis Archangeli, beati Ioannis Baptistæ, et sanctorum Apostolorum Petri et Pauli et omnium Sanctorum, misereatur vestri omnipotens Deus; et dimissis omnibus peccatis vestris, perducat vos Iesus Christus ad vitam æternam.

  • R: Amen.

Indulgentiam, absolutionem, et remissionem omnium peccatorum vestrorum, spatium verae et fructuosae poenitentiæ, cor semper penitens, et emendationem vitae, gratiam et consolationem Sancti Spiritus; et finalem perseverantiam in bonis operibus tribuat vobis omnipotens et misericors Dominus.

  • R: Amen.

Et benedictio Dei Omnipotentis: Pa + tris, et Fi + lii, et Spiritus + Sancti, descendat super vos et maneat semper.

  • R: Amen.

English Translation[edit]

The English translation is as follows:

May the holy apostles Peter and Paul, in whose power and authority we trust, intercede for us before the Lord.

Through the prayers and merits of blessed Mary ever-Virgin, blessed Michael the Archangel, Saint John the Baptist, the holy apostles Peter and Paul, and all the saints, may Almighty God have mercy on you, and having forgiven all your sins, may Jesus Christ bring you to life everlasting.

  • Response: Amen.

May the almighty and merciful Lord grant you indulgence, absolution and remission of all your sins, a season of true and fruitful penance, a well-disposed heart, amendment of life, the grace and comfort of the Holy Spirit and final perseverance in good works.

  • Response: Amen.

And may the blessing of almighty God, the Father +, and the Son +, and the Holy Spirit +, come down on you and remain with you forever.

  • Response: Amen. [3]

The blessing is preceded by an announcement, in Italian, by the Cardinal Protodeacon. The text is as follows:

Il Santo Padre, Francesco, a tutti i fedeli presenti e a quelli che riceveno la sua benedizione, a mezzo della radio, della televisione e della nuove tecnologie di comunicazione, concede l’indulgenza plenaria nella forma stabilita della Chiesa. Preghiamo Dio onnipotente per conservi a lungo il Papa a guida della Chiesa, conceda pace e unità alla Chiesa in tutto il mondo.

In English, according to the Vatican, it translates to:

The Holy Father, Francis, grants a plenary indulgence in the form laid down by the Church to all the faithful present and to those who receive his blessing by radio, television and the new communications media. Let us pray Almighty God to preserve the Pope for many years as leader of the Church, and to grant peace and unity to the Church throughout the world.

Older practice[edit]

Prior to the occupation of Rome by the army of the Kingdom of Italy (September 20, 1870), this blessing was given more frequently and at specific basilicas at Rome:

After the occupation, Pope Pius IX considered himself a "Prisoner in the Vatican" and in protest ceased to give the blessing. The practice was later resumed, though in a more limited manner, following the resolution of the so-called "Roman Question" (i.e., the legal relationship between the Vatican and the Italian government).

Pope Innocent X in the Jubilee of 1650 on the Epiphany, Pentecost, and All Saints, as well as later popes, including Pope Pius IX, for special reasons, gave this solemn blessing from the balcony of the Quirinal Palace.


The term Urbi et Orbi evolved from the consciousness of the ancient Roman Empire. In fact it should be expressed by the Pope as the bishop of Rome (urbs = city; urbi the corresponding dative form; compare: urban) as well as the head of the Roman Catholic Church. Thus, as it were, includes the whole world (orbis = earth; orbi the corresponding dative form; compare: Orbit).

The formula is found more frequently in the language of the church, as in the inscription at the Lateran Basilica, after which the church is: omnium urbis et orbis Ecclesiarum mater et caput[4] - "the head and mother of all churches of the city and of the earth" = the principal and mother of all churches of the world.

In the 4th century, Pope Damasus I wrote in a letter to the bishops of Illyricum:

Unde iustum est, omnes in Universo Romanorum Orbe Doctores legis, ea, quae legis sunt, sapere, et non fidem doctrinis variis maculare.[5] - (English: "Hence, it is just, that all doctors of the law in the Universe of the World of the Romans, those, who are of the law, are wise, and do not teach the faith with various doctrines.")

The ritual of the papal blessing Urbi et Orbi developed in the 13th Century during Pope Gregory X, who consulted before his election with Niccolò and Maffeo Polo.[6][7]


  1. ^ Pope Paul VI did not give this blessing when he first appeared after being elected at the 1963 conclave but imparted instead the shorter Apostolic Blessing.[2]


  1. ^ Enchiridion of Indulgences, page 23, issued by the Sacred Apostolic Penitentiary (1968), Joseph Cardinal Ferretto, Penitentiary Major, p.23. Retrieved 2011-10-27.
  2. ^ "elezione Papa Paolo VI (1963) YouTube video". Retrieved 19 February 2014. 
  3. ^ http://www.vatican.va/news_services/liturgy/libretti/2013/20130331-pasqua-libretto.pdf
  4. ^ The British and foreign evangelical review and quarterly record of Christian literature, Vol. XV., page 39, James Oswald Dykes, James Stuart Candlish, Hugh Sinclair Paterson, Joseph Samuel Exell, James Nisbet & Co., London 1866.
  5. ^ Cassiodorus, Historia Eccl., 5, CAPUT XXIX. Litterae Damasi et caeterorum ad Illyricum contra concilium in Nicaea Thraciae factum.
  6. ^ A Natural History of Latin, page 294, Tore Janson, Oxford University Press 2007, ISBN 978-0-19-162265-6
  7. ^ The Travels Of Marco Polo, page 214, Henry Yule, Plain Label Books, ISBN 978-1-60303-615-3

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