When In Rome: "Exploring Vatican City"
Following Catholic Charities staff member Lynn Grandon as she travels to Rome, Italy for the April 27 canonization of Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII.
Lynn and her husband are leading a group of approximately 30 pilgrims from throughout the United States in a whirlwind itinerary.
Beyond the April 27 ceremonies, their group will explore the sights and sounds of Rome and Vatican City.
Previous blog entries:
After heading to bed late, we were all up early for 0630 breakfast to catch the early bus to the Vatican- hoping to avoid the crowds.
There were media crews everywhere laying out massive amounts of transmission cording all over the square, blocking off areas where they would erect platforms for production and many jumbo trons for the crowds that they expected.
We were led to a chapel underneath the Basilica where we celebrated a Mass next to many other chapels – you could hear Masses being offered in other languages, and people would join us when they realized our Mass was in English. It was a beautiful and holy time together.
After the Mass, we exited around the Basilica to a small street where we were able to participate in a Scabia Tour.
This was extraordinary – there is an area even farther underneath the Basilica, even underneath the chapels, that was discovered by accident by a workman.
He realized that he had hit the top of a sculpted ancient building…which led to excavation of an entire Necropolis – a “city of the dead”…a long street of ornate mausoleums where Roman families would go to honor their deceased family members. You should go online and observe the findings – it is remarkable.
Also, directly underneath the main altar in St. Peters, the bones of St. Peter are located and we were able to see the sarcophagus.
Everyone then enjoyed a guided tour of the Basilica, explaining every chapel and its significance.
The size is truly overwhelming, and everyone was walking about with gaping mouths and cameras in hand – every inch of every wall and all the ceilings are ornately decorated – it is a visual feast and you leave emotionally exhausted!
The group then walked many blocks to a well known Roman restaurant – where we had pasta, then ravioli, then meat, then salad, then fried potatoes, then dessert!
Everyone was groaning and longing for beds in the next room to take a nap!
But we all moved on to enjoy a museum and a walk through the Sistine Chapel.
We were surprised that it was quite dark inside, photos are not allowed, and the guards were yelling , “SILENCIO! (Silence!)” because there were large groups of students and the sound levels were enormous.
It is a one-of-a-kind masterpiece, and is worth seeing…but one must be prepared for the social disappointments.
You would think after a day like that, that sensible people would head back to their room and collapse – but being the fools that we are – we headed out by cab with a delightful couple from Denver and went to the famous Roman fountain to throw coins backwards.
Then, of course, we had to eat a bit of something at an outdoor café.
We sat next to a couple from England and the wife was half Swedish – of which I am ¾, so we were able to exchange a few fun phrases and some laughs – truly wonderful.
Good heavens, we didn’t get to bed until around midnight with another full day round the corner – we’re squeezing every bit of delight out of every moment possible here!