I know I haven’t posted a blog recently. Last week was our Spring Break and school has certainly been keeping me busy. Although I didn’t go anywhere for Spring Break, I spent the week relaxing at my apartment, which I had to myself, and going to the Vatican. Out of the ten days I had off of school, I spent six of them at the Vatican. I’ve come to the conclusion that if I’m not in my apartment or in class, I’m there because it’s like a second home to me.
My first Sunday of break I went to St. Peter’s to hear Papa Francesco’s first Angelus. There were so many people there that they not only filled the square, but the surrounding streets as well. I managed to get into the Square partly because I was coming from Mass at Santo Spirito in Sassia with two sisters, who have become friends of mine.
Monday, I pretty much relaxed in the apartment until Bible study Monday evening. I needed the rest because I had to be up early Tuesday morning. I got up at 4:30 Tuesday morning so I could be at the Vatican by 6:00 for Papa Francesco’s Instillation Mass. Security opened at 6:30 for the 9:30 Mass and nobody needed tickets, so I kind of needed to get there early. Security had everyone wait at the end of Via della Conciliazione closest to the River. When they opened the barriers at 6:30, everyone was literally running up the street towards the Vatican. It was entertaining to see so many people running to church, even though I was running myself. We all had the same goal of trying to get a good spot. We reached a point just before the Square where there were more barriers and when security moved those barriers, we all continued running up to the fence at the front of the Square. From there, Security was letting few people through at a time to go to the metal detectors. It was a time when I needed to use my elbows to push through the crowd, but that was kind of difficult since I had a priest on my right and a nun on my left. :-/ I eventually made it through and into the square. There were no chairs set up, so it was all standing room in St. Peter’s Square. I stood near some people who had an American flag because I couldn’t get a spot along a barrier. A few minutes later, a group of university students from the University of Mary come and stand behind me. I recognized the professor and priest that were with them because I had met them at the Angelus on Sunday. So as we were waiting for Mass to start, I was talking to one of the students and the priest. Even though I went to Mass that morning by myself, I now found myself among friends. Mass was beautiful and it was a bright and sunny day for it.
After Mass, the priest and the group from the University of Mary invited me to join them for lunch, which I did. During lunch, I talked mostly with the priest because he was the only one I really knew. At one point during lunch, he told me that he has two or three friend who work in the Vatican and if I wanted to meet them, he could arrange it. I told him that would be great and right after he said that, I told myself that I think I just made my first contact! When we finished lunch, I went back to my apartment and slept.
Wednesday, I went back to the Vatican because I wanted to go to Confession in St. Peter’s Basilica. Before going to Confession, I went into the Adoration chapel for a few moments to kind of collect myself. When I did go to Confession, it was in one of the traditional style confessionals, which I am not use to, but it was a unique experience. Afterwards, I went to Blessed Pope John Paul II’s tomb to pray my penance. As I was doing so, this class of young kids came into the area where people kneel and pray and they kneeled and prayed until their teacher told them it was time to go. That was very moving to me because Blessed Pope John Paul II is known for appealing to the youth and he continues to inspire the young. Feeling light-hearted, I left when I finished praying and went to the international food store to do some shopping.
Thursday, I went back to the Vatican Museums primarily to see the Sistine Chapel again since I discussed the artwork in one of my classes. The artwork and sculptures in the museums continue to amaze me, even though I’ve been to the museums three times.
I also went to Castel Sant’Angelo because until then, I haven’t been inside. I absolutely love it because it looked so medieval and the medieval period is my favorite part of history. I’m also doing my presentation and final paper on the sack of Rome for one of my classes and I wanted to get a feel and in the right mindset of what I have to do for my presentation and paper. But my primary purpose for going to Castel Sant’Angelo was to get a picture of the Vatican with the sunset.
Friday, I went to the Bishop’s office to collect my tickets for Palm Sunday Mass. Other than that, it was another restful day, although the internet router in my apartment started acting up and stopped connecting to my laptop. Saturday, I met my friend Taylor, who spent her spring break in Greece. We got gelatto at our favorite shop near the Pantheon and we walked to Piazza Navona to see the artwork there. We were also thoroughly entertained by a mime.
Sunday, Taylor and I got to the Vatican for Palm Sunday Mass at the bright and early time of 7 am and security didn’t open until 8, so we were pretty much in the front. When security did open, at the end of Via della Conciliazione, people were rushing up the street again, but this time on a much smaller scale. We managed to get very good seats because we were in the front row of the section in front of and to the left of the obelisk. So, we had a good view of the alter and a big screen, and Papa Francesco will drive right by us. The day was once again clear and sunny. The Mass itself was beautiful with the procession of the palms leading into Mass. At the end of Mass, which only took two hours…about, the Pope led us in the Angelus before going around the square in the popemobile.
On the Pope’s first time around, I took pictures and on his second time around, I just watched to let it sink in. But the second time he came around, he stopped right on the corner right next to where Taylor and I were and got off of his popemobile. Unfortunately he didn’t come to where we were standing, but he was close enough that Taylor and I were freaking out. Taylor was crying and I was shaking. After Mass, we made our way home and rested. It had been a great start to Holy Week.
The Easter Triduum has been a great experience so far and I’m looking forward to Easter Mass at the Vatican tomorrow morning. I’m also looking forward to what April has to bring, even though I’m still getting use to the fact that it’s March. In April, I have a day trip to Assisi, my best friend is coming to Rome from Scotland for her 21st birthday, I have a weekend trip to Southern Italy, and I’m going to Ireland at the end of April where I get to see my aunts, uncles, and cousins, and did I mention my mom and sister!!! I’m so excited for what’s coming, but with all of these fun times, I also have a ton of papers and presentations that are due in the next month, which I’m not looking forward to. But hopefully, these trips and spending time with my bestie will help me get through all of my work.