We left for St. Peter’s Basilica at 5:30 am and were in line outside the colonnade at 6:00 am. We had gotten tickets for seats in the basilica, but we weren’t taking any chances. Mass wasn’t till 10:00 am, and they weren’t opening the doors till 8:30 am. “You’ve come all the way to Rome, what’s another couple of hours?” says our guide Debra. I gave people in our group the option of sleeping in, maybe even catching the pope’s mass on TV. But no one chose to stay. So everyone in Msgr. Dreiling’s group, and everyone in ours got up at 4:30 am for a mass that wasn’t to begin till 10:00 am!
We vested in the long hall leading up to the Apostolic Palace. A few days later as we took the tour of the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel, we would look down this staircase from the other end all the way down to the piazza!
Selfie before mass.
Fine artwork at the top of the columns. The popes couldn’t do anything simple … or is that just the culture?
Swiss guards signaling the beginning of the procession into the basilica
Entering the basilica. It was still just 9:30 am.
This is how close we were to the altar. The pope sat in between the two columns on the left. We didn’t get to see him until he came around the altar for the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
Our guides had plans to visit the Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano and the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore after lunch. But I went to see Msgr. Dreiling at the Hospital of the Holy Spirit after he fainted during mass. He was to be admitted and kept overnight for observation. So eventually, I just went back to the hotel and caught up on my sleep. Then seven of us went to the Ristorante La Vittoria a San Pietro, a little hole in the wall just beyond the piazza where the Swiss guards went to eat. I’d say we made an impression. We resolved to return the next evening, although most of the group changed their minds. We must have sat down for 2 1/2 hours. Then we spent some time wandering about the piazza till about 11:00 pm. When we headed down to the Metro, the sign indicated we had missed the last train! While we were deciding what to do next, another train pulled into the station. That was the last train. So we got home without a hitch.
Lois, Peggy, Amelia, Libby, Erin, Diane.
Looks the same in the early morning as it does late in the evening. Couldn’t really tell.
Rolo B Castillo © 2014