So.....I begin where I left off.
I just read my last entry---it's interesting that I wrote it as I was leaving Rome in 2014, and I haven't written anything since. So, here I am in Rome again. There are a number of reasons that people refer to Rome as the "Eternal City"---one of them must be that when you visit here, you can't imagine never returning.
So, my sister and I are here. And we don't have to see and do EVERYTHING. Because we don't.
The main stuff---the Scavi Tour--I didn't mind going again, because the tour is so, so interesting, and the chance to visit and pray at the tomb of St Peter is not to be missed. Got a great photo of the Confessio----right above Peter's tomb, where they bless the palliums for the new bishops.
We picked up our tickets for the Papal Audience on Tues. afternoon. And folks, if you request tickets, please be aware that the Vatican website is totally wrong about where to pick your tickets up. It indicates that they are to be picked up at the Paul VI Audience Hall. Nope. It's still at the Bronze Door, on the other side of the Colonnade. I had a hilarious conversation with one of the Swiss Guards about this----I had a funny feeling that the website was wrong (Could the Vatican ever be wrong? Wait, don't answer that). I asked one of the guards about it, as well as to clarify where we needed to be for the Scavi Tour. He kept a totally straight face and told me that "the website is mistaken. You pick them up at the Bronze door. And you will come here for the Scavi Tour. You will learn the secret handshake, go through security and then proceed to the tour." I asked him who would teach me the 'secret handshake"---he nodded towards the police. It was hysterical.
Let me explain why it was confusing.....
The police, Carabinieri, and military presence has increased dramatically. There are police and military (with assault rifles) everywhere now at all the public places, major churches, train stations, metro stops.....everywhere. You have to go through an airport type screening to go into any of the major churches. It's what it is. But it's different than it was.
You now have to go through security to pick up your papal audience tickets. They now only allow one person in line. My sis told me a hilarious story about an American family that didn't like the 'only one person in line' policy, so they jumped the barricade. Very bad idea. The Italian police were not amused. American family wised up quickly.
She also told me about an American wife who had sent her husband to pick up their tickets for the papal audience. "Are they reserved seats?" she wanted to know. Her exasperated husband didn't know. "Well, did you ask?" ---and he said that he had not. They get the "Dumb American Tourist" prize, because even if you have tickets, you have to get in line a couple of hours early, and run like heck when you clear security.
As I got into line for my tickets, an Italian nun, in full habit, elbowed me and pushed me aside so that she could cut into line in front of me. Unfortunately, that's not the first time that's ever happened (stories from 2014)---and then, the morning of the papal audience, I got elbowed again. We were in line, waiting to go through security, and there was a tour group that kept elbowing and shoving so that they could cut into line. The woman next to me, who was wearing the biggest crucifix I've ever seen on someone, kept elbowing me and glaring at me for not moving out of her way (and trust me, there was no place that she could have moved to!). Finally, as the crowd started to move forward, she looked at me sideways, made the sign of the cross, and then elbowed me really hard so that she could cut the line in front of me. Dear Lord Jesus....I totally understand why some people think that your followers are irritating as heck!
You can't make this stuff up.
But when all was said and done, we cleared security and had great seats.
Here's the sad part. Security.
They seem to have clamped down on the Pope's ability to drive through the crowd. There were easily 100,000 people in the Square---yet, he only toured the crowd for less than 15 mins.
Pope Francis is amazing, and I feel so blessed to have been in his presence twice in my life. How lucky are we to have this Pope in our lifetime? His energy and love are tangible.
Went to an interesting panel on the council being held by the Orthodox. Or not. Stay tuned to see if they all show up.
Holy Door X 3. We went through 3 Holy Doors in 1 day for the Jubilee Year. St. Peter, St. John Lateran, St. Mary Major. Prayed for all of you.
Love Rome. I hate the humidity. But I love Rome more than I hate the humidity. There you are.
Headed to Assisi and a much slower pace tomorrow.
And now, the photos...
1. St. Peter's Basilica at night
2. Sistine Chapel. You aren't supposed to take photos. Sorry.
3. The Confessio
4. The Holy Door at St Peter's
5. I'll bet you didn't know that there is a coffee shop on the roof of St Peter's.
6. Close up view of Michelangelo's dome
8. High altar at St Peter's w/ Holy Spirit window
9. Castel Sant Angelo (Hadrian's tomb, and also where the Popes hid out when under attack) Our hotel is near this.