Always ethereal, always eclectic, I write as the mood strikes, when there intrigue reveals itself. Usually that means something controversial or adventure of some sort.

I've tried really hard to be unprovocative, but have as yet been unsuccessful.

Sunday, 9 April 2006

Palm Sunday with the Pope

I had the worst pain ever while in a plane upon landing in Rome. It seems that I had the worst cold I've ever had on a plane, and I felt like knitting needles were being driven into my skull. Or else I felt like wanting to do so in order to alleviate the pain.

The interesting thing is that for the entire rest of the day, I couldn't hear. Or rather, I could hear, but the noises inside my head were louder than those outside. (Which countrary to popular reports, is not the norm. Yes it is. Wait, no.) It was like walking through a fog of sound my first night in Rome, broken only occasionally by surreal images from the distant past.

Found the hotel easily enough, and the next day headed over to the Vatican. There were kids giving away what looked like olive branches everywhere, and men selling palm tree ornaments with the Pope's image entwined (one of which I bought). (Turns out you can stand in with one foot in Italy and one foot in the Vatican at the same time.) And there was this giant rally in St. Peter's Square. And gradually it dawned on me and 3 fellow hostellers that it was Palm Sunday, which we had completely forgotten! So I got to see the Pope. One more thing checked off on the life list. It was from a distance,

and it was all Italian, his address, so I didn't really feel moved by the sermon. But it was still way cool. Thousands of people gathered in the square, antiphonal singing, and before I got there, a processional lead by the Pope with cheers and palm branches being waved in the air. At the end came the blessing of the sacrament, which, since I knew I wouldn't be allowed to partake in, I moved on.
When the crowds had died down, I went to see St. Peter's Cathedral. Wow. Can't really demonstrate in words or pictures how big, how glorious, how expensive it is. So much inlaid gold, lapis luzi, and intricate mosaic, everywhere. I got an idea of how Francis felt upon meeting the Pope in all his glory. But from the movie Brother Sun Sister Moon I had a different idea of what the audience chambers looked like. The entire building is in the shape of a cross, and in the center is the alter for the sacraments. But

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there is no raised platform- I don't know if there ever was. Below are the crypts, where I saw the tomb of Jean Paul (peace be upon him), and above, climbing many steps, until you are sure you can climb no more, and then find out you are 1/3 of the way there, are wonderful views of the city, with an opportunity to look down at the nave from the cupola above.

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