Thursday, April 12, 2012

easter in the eternal city.


The Easter Vigil lasted three hours, and we probably got to bed around 1am earliest, to wake up again at around 7am for Easter Sunday Mass!!! And you know what? I thought I was going to be exhausted beyond belief. I normally cannot function on so little sleep for so long (two nights of minimal sleep with no naps= disastrous). BUT I work up nice and early Sunday morning, bright eyed and bushy tailed, with plenty of energy and excitement for the joyous holiday!

the tiber river on easter morning

We got ready, then headed to the Vatican for Mass, arriving about two hours early to wait in line to get in and find seats in the square. The Easter Vigil took place inside the Basilica, but Sunday Mass was outside in the square, under a beautiful blue sky.

Now this was an (additional) Easter miracle. It was supposed to rain all weekend, which would have certainly put a damper on a lot of things. And though we did have some random sprinkles throughout the day on Saturday, we were so blessed and had sun for most of the weekend. Nothing was spoiled or rained out! It was incredible! Even with a little chill in the air, the sun brightened Easter and perfectly reflected Christ's glorious Resurrection!

seats for mass!

pope benedict

lovely blue sky

the pope's easter message and blessing

Mass with the Pope was, again, amazing. We were very far away from him again, but giant tv screens remedied that. There were readings in several languages and the petitions especially were all in different languages from all around the world. The Gospel was read in Latin, and then in Greek by a Greek Orthodox deacon! It was so beautiful. After Mass, the Pope gave an Easter sermon/message and said "Happy Easter" in just about every language on the planet. He also gave a special blessing called the "Urbi et Orbi", which he only gives at Easter and Christmas normally. It means "to the city of Rome and to the World".

All in all, everything lasted a little over two hours, and we left St. Peter's around 12:30. Following a little Easter hike and exploring around the hills of Rome, we sat down for a lovely lunch in Trastevere, one of Rome's really great neighborhoods. I had the second best risotto I've ever eaten--it was in a radicchio cream sauce and it was just delicious!

After lunch, we went to the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. I had only ever walked past these important monuments, so it was great to finally fully experience them. Like just about everything else in Europe, the sheer history astonished me. I was walking where people had been walking for hundreds of years before Jesus was even born! It was unreal. The Colosseum is partially in ruins, but we could imagine what it would have looked like in its prime. And it really gives you chills to see the subterranean cells where gladiators, who were essentially slaves bought and trained to fight to the death, were kept in waiting underneath the Colosseum floor. You can picture all of the stands filled with Romans watching this ancient form of "entertainment". And then in the Forum, you can walk around ancient temples and through the paths used to get to the market, or the stadium, or anywhere else ancient Romans would need to go.

some ballet in the forum aka pretending to be a statue

It had gotten chilly very quickly when we were exploring the ancient ruins, so we took shelter at a heated outdoor patio for drinks in the Campo di Fiori--a square with lots of bars and restaurants--then we meandered to the Piazza Navona (another really great square and neighborhood) for another fantastic meal of pasta and wine. The night ended with gelato (as every night should, especially in Rome).

Easter in Rome was the perfect day for the most important celebration in the Church. Christ was raised from death to save us and give us eternal life in heaven. It was the greatest blessing to celebrate the Resurrection with Catholics from around the world and the Pope--in the city that is the seat of the Church and the site where so many martyrs of the early Church shed their blood so that we can worship freely today. Yay Easter! Yay Rome!

pax christi.

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