"What has happened?" someone may have asked themselves as they entered the Shrine at the beginning of Advent and saw the open and empty tabernacle and a different altar than usual. Nothing terrible has happened. In the Sanctuary, with the new liturgical year, the phase of liturgical adaptation determined by the reform initiated by the Second Vatican Council in its many study sessions has simply begun. This phase will be marked by experimentation. This adjustment has already been carried out in some churches in our diocese, and our bishop Marco has requested that the diocesan sanctuaries, in view of the Jubilee of 2025, implement the required adjustment.
What does this adaptation mean in concrete terms for the Sanctuary of the Graces? Two things.
The first is the provision of a place, which is not in the presbytery, where the Eucharistic Reserve can be placed and where it is possible to pray quietly and in a recollected manner, without being too disturbed by tourists. This is why the Chapel of St Ludwig, later renamed the Chapel of St Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows, was deemed suitable. It is the third from the left as you enter the Sanctuary. From now on, as one passes in front of the Chapel, one is invited to make a genuflection, which is therefore no longer directed towards the presbytery.
The second is the replacement of the altar in use with another of almost cubic form, as was in use in the early centuries of the Church. For this phase, the altar was made of poor material, plywood, which, however, was exquisitely painted to match the previous altar.
For the Shrine, therefore, the experimentation phase begins, during which we priests, and also you, the faithful, will be able to try out, precisely experiment, to see what adjustments and modifications will be necessary. This phase will last until Easter, and then there will be a review from which indications on how to proceed will emerge.