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Habamus Janitorum

It was early in the morning when Sven Svensen entered the Sistine Chapel to clean the floor. After a few minutes of mopping, Sven stared at the ceiling and admired the 500-year-old works of Michelangelo depicting many scenes from the Bible.

Sven finished cleaning and was resting on his mop in a niche near the front altar when a man dressed in a robe and wearing a modest skullcap came walking in. Immediately Sven knew who it was: it was the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger who had just been elected Pope Benedict XVI. He was followed by another cardinal whom Sven didn’t recognize.

The Pope walked to the kneeling rail before the alter, kneeled, bowed his head and spoke, “Lord, I am nothing.”

In like manner, the Cardinal also kneeled, bowed his head and said, “Lord, I am nothing.”

Inspired by these acts of humility, Sven came to the kneeling rail, kneeled, removed his horned helmet, bowed his head and repeated, “Lord, I am nothing.”

The Cardinal leaned toward the Pope, nudged him in the ribs and pointed at Sven. He whispered to the Pope, “Hey, look who thinks he’s nothing.”