Tuesday, April 10, 2012

a roman holiday.


Rome is an amazing place. This little pilgrimage weekend was so blessed and joyful! I did not want to leave Rome--everything was just perfect and it is a beautiful, exciting city that feels just so alive in spite of all of its ruins!

I feel like I spent most of the weekend waiting in line or eating, but that was just fine with me. I am glad I have already visited Rome, and have seen all of the major churches, monuments, and places (as well as lots in between) so I was not as pressed to be a tourist. There were thousands and thousands of other Catholics from all around the world there to celebrate Easter, so everything--especially the Vatican--was particularly crowded. But it was incredible and exhilarating and I loved every second we were there.


The weekend started in Versailles, where I stayed over with my friend Rose. We caught up, walked the gardens of the chateau, and went to the Good Friday service before crashing. A mere few hours later, around 4am, it was time to catch our taxi to make it to the airport for our 7am flight! We all caught some z's on the plane, but by the time we landed in Rome, my fatigue was entirely replaced by excitement and joy for being back here! Stopping quickly at our hostel to drop off bags, the first mission was to pick up tickets to Mass for Easter Vigil and Sunday Mass at the Vatican. Navigating the winding, cobble-stoned streets of Rome is a puzzle to be sure, but we successfully located the American seminary offices and picked up our tickets. Stopping briefly at the Trevi fountain, we then walked over to the Vatican where I met up with Garrett, a friend from Totus Tuus who is in seminary in Rome. We enjoyed our first Roman meal of the weekend with him, complete with gelato!

the american seminary offices

the trevi fountain

throwing a coin means i'll come back to rome!

Our bellies full of pasta and dessert, Rose and I got in line to wait for the Easter Vigil. At 2pm. Mass was not until 9pm. We had been advised to start waiting in line this early, and it was completely worth it. We were at the head of a line that circled St. Peter's Square entirely. We made friends in line, and were coincidentally right behind a group of guys from Chicago. We had visitors, took short breaks for food runs, and enjoyed the beautiful weather and square. It was a very pleasant 5+ hour wait, even though things got a bit crazy and hectic as the gates were opened to let us in. Surviving some pushing and shoving, we made it into the Basilica and found great seats right along the center aisle in the nave, right next to where Pope Benedict processed in.

garrett and i

the monster line already wrapping around the square

the altar

pope benedict!!!

the altar with flowers, ready for sunday morning

The Easter Vigil was incredible. Not only did we watch the Pope process in from just a few feet in front of us, but we got to attend this beautiful Mass within St. Peter's that was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Besides briefly setting my hair on fire...everything was just perfect. Even from a non-sacristan perspective this year, the Vigil is one of the most beautiful Masses of the year. To celebrate it with the Pope was unbelievable. It was three hours long, but it did not seem like it. The music was incredible, the readings were in 5 different languages, about 20 people were baptized and welcomed into the Church by the Pope, and we were surrounded by Catholics of all languages, cultures, and nationalities. It was amazing.

This was only one day in Rome. We were there for one and a half more, and even more filled than this! I am still exhausted from the weekend (it doesn't help that I did not get home until 2am this morning...and had to teach all day today...), so more stories of Easter and Rome will have to wait!

pax christi.

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