Thursday, July 14, 2011

Rome Day 2

 Day 2 was the by far one of the best days of the trip as it was Papal Audience day.  Something that has changed since I was last in Rome is that tickets are needed for the Papal Audience and the airport security bag check before you get into the square for the audience has been added as well. Going through the metal detector with another person, literally 2 of us at the same time side by side, is something I would love to forget, but can't.  The day began early with Fr. John telling us to be downstairs and ready to leave at 7:15am.  Fr. John whom we met on Day 1 is what we call a Papal event guru, and very good friends with Fr. Geno.  Fr. Geno originally said 7:30am Fr. John said 7:15 to get us out at 7:30, see I've known Fr. Geno for a fair bit longer than the others on the trip so I know that when he says 7:30 he really means about 7:20.  Anyway, all of that doesn't really matter as the experience of the day far out weighs any discomfort of waking up so early and walking at a quick pace.

It didn't truly hit me as to where we were sitting until I was in the square and of course after fighting one's way into the square as seats are on a first come first serve basis.  Considering myself to be a Papal Event veteran having been to a few World Youth Days and a Papal Mass not to mention the Papal Audience when I was in Rome in 2001 with Seton Hall, I thought I knew what was about to happen, but I didn't.  I walked past where we sat with Seton Hall got to the "end of the columns" and realized that we were literally sitting on the steps of St. Peter's.  The Swiss Guard who acknowledged my ticket had to hear me say "Holy Hell or Damn they got us up close"  as I walked past and paused before finding my group.  Fr. Geno and Fr. John basically ran ahead and saved 4 rows for the group as there was 30 of us, and a group of that size very rarely if ever gets the "front row seats."  I don't remember much of what Pope Benedict said despite actually listening to him while there, reading it on line and watching the video of it. Which you can do here and you can see our group when we're announced as the camera panned over to us. (Pilgrims from the Diocese of Paterson)

Fr. John had given us instructions of "move your chairs over" and at the end get ready to move these chairs out of the way." At the end of the Audience, Pope Benedict drove past us as he normally, well he rode past us as someone else was driving the Pope-mobile as we all call it or the Papal Mobile as Fr. John, the official Vatican tour guide calls it.  I for the first time in my actually put the camera away, as the official Vatican photographers were taking pictures and I figured that I'd probably get into at least one, but I didn't because there was this crazy Korean lady, that I deemed a bitch, though that might be a bit harsh, but she was crazy as was the nun who was next to her. The priests were complaining about them as well so I'm not along.  The Korean Lady moved in front of me every time I went to move closer to the rail.  Now for the audience this five foot three inch girl had four, yes four, six foot tall guys in front of her, so Fr. John, who was one of them, said Mary, get in front of me, so I obeyed.  The pictures from the Audience do not do it justice, I was the closest I have ever been to the Holy Father.  I know that I kept looking for the feelings I had when JP2 would drive past me and when I saw him in St. Peter's square 11 years before when I was with Seton Hall.  I did not repeat those feelings, but I got something else.  While I have the actual images of JP2, I do not have one of PB16, I did and still do get the feeling that most get when close to the Holy Father one of peace, and a feeling of being in the presence of a holy man.  Benedict is not JP2 and never will be, but both men will be influential in my life for many reasons.  I remember crying tears of happiness when Benedict came to that window, thinking to myself, oh thank God nothing will change.  The seeds that JP2 planted and being watered and cultivated by PB16 and I know that evangelization and the "new evangelization" that Benedict is promoting will be a major part of my life.

The audience was by far the highlight of my trip and the rest of the day almost pales in comparison but I shall share with you the rest of the day.  After the Audience we went to visit the North American College aka the NAC whose actual name is The Pontifical North American College which happens to be where the American seminarians study and live when sent to Rome for their studies for the priesthood.  There's the link for more info and pictures of the place.   The NAC is one of those places that yes I have visited before, but it's always weird for me, a woman, to be in place that is for men.  There is a certain vibe of you belong here, but you don't belong here.   Anyway, the guys were all on their break from school so we had the place to ourselves and we got a great "tour" of the place, mainly we were up on the roof taking in the amazing views of Rome.  What will also be one of the favorite memories was Mass in the chapel, not the big or main chapel, but the tiny chapel in honor of the North American Martyrs.  We had 5 priests, Fr. Geno, Fr. Paul, Fr. Daniel, Msgr. Rodger, and Fr. Derek, it was crazy and awesome all at the same time.  I mean how many group gets to have 5 priests celebrate Mass for them and we had it happen twice, lol.

Anyway after the NAC we took a bus over to the Coliseum and the Forum.  Having stayed by the Forum last time in Rome this wasn't that big of a deal, for us it's like visiting one of our classic touristy spots.  Our tour of the Forum was cut short as the clouds were quickly turning gray and eventually opened upon us.  We went back to the hotel and then went out to what would be the first of many awesome dinners.  We went to Fr. Geno's favorite restaurant and were treated like kings and queens and drank a crap load of wine and it was wonderful. At dinner Fr. John would ask the normal questions of where did you go to college, what do you do, etc.  The question, well more of a comment was made of "study over here" to me about my lack of a Masters degree of which I would love and like, but more on Fr. John and that comment and grad school later.  Day 2 was by far one of the best days in Rome. I almost forgot here is day 2's album on facebook

Fr. Geno and I in the classic in front of St. Peter's shot, and also a typical shot for the two of us. 
The Jesus statue atop St. Peter's. When you've got some time to wait, you find things to do.  
Some of the detail on St. Peter's. 
Something I never noticed before probably because there is so much to see. 
Swiss Guards.. the Holy Father is near. :) 
PB16 did not just appear he did ride up in the  Popemobile or Papal mobile and this is when he was walking to his chair. 
Our seats were amazing, and I  still get chills just thinking about it.  
After the Audience we went to visit the North American College, home of the US seminarians, of which none where there as they were on break, but we got a nice tour of the place and got to see some amazing views from the roof of the college. This happens to be their soccer field and the only picture I have that lays claim to anything NAC related. 
One of the views from the Roof of the North American 
US seminary of course the Patroness of the Americas is there.  :)  I was baptized on the Feast of our Lady of Guadalupe so she will always hold a special place with me.  ;) 
The Coliseum from the outside.  
The Coliseum from the inside.  
Some of the random hidden amazing pieces of art in the churches.   

My random cool shot from dinner ... we had a fair bit of wine that night.  ;) 
My attempt at a artsy shot, it was well after a few glasses of wine, so it was much cooler at the time. 
Our crazy waiters who kept bringing the awesome food and wine. 
the classic night of St. Peter's. 

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