On Wednesday, a week ago it seems, May 4th, was our last full day in Rome.
We arose the earliest this day in order to get to the Vatican by 8am when they allowed pilgrims in for the weekly Papal Audience.
With last minute help from our Diocese, excellent tickets were awaiting us the day before at the North American College. My husband said when he picked them up even the priest there remarked how good they were.
Click on the photo below and look for the arrow pointing to our seats and our shirts of blue. (Photo courtesy of Photovat.com)
As the Holy Father addressed St. Peter's square, we were on his left hand side directly behind the ArchBishops.
It seemed we could reach out and touch a red cap...not that we would...
When a few of these holy men continued to utilize their yellow and white-striped, papal sun umbrellas the Brazilian nun beside me chided them for obstructing our view of the Pope. Feisty nun!
At 10:30am as the Swiss Guard approached, we knew things were about to happen. (Even though it was a temperate May day, the white of the square reflected onto us, and as predicted by our tour guide...we baked! I had to wonder how those is black cassocks and the Swiss Guard don't just melt?!)
Driving in the open air popemobile we heard cheers for him before we saw him. He drove around the bottom of the square blessing pilgrims before he came up the ramp to our area. The cheers were so loving and excited.
With his red shoes and a firm, healthy stride, the Holy Father took his place. He waved and blessed often to all who called out in joy. I caught him a number of times looking our way. It seems he looks right at us!
"Gorgeous George," as the media has dubbed Monsignor Georg Gänswein, the Pope's personal secretary, really IS a very handsome man! He knew every beat of what was to happen, directing every reading to the Pope and seemingly also knows each language as he rose right before the Pope was finished reading each greeting in each language to then move the microphone or bring the Holy Father a drink. All those who surround the Pope are very dignified, it was impressive.
What sweet faces! This one's worth an enlarging click on it. Soak in their eyes and gentle smiles. Day in and day out, and yet the look on us with love, the love of Christ....
And when the audience was over, near noon, there was a bit of a crush . Sitting in the 2nd row, everyone behind us was pushing forward as they knew that the Pope was about to pass by us. A kind women in front made room for our daughter beside her...bringing her front row. As we were once lined up as a family, now we were a bit scattered. Ugandan priests and Brazilian nuns to our left, Spanish nuns to our right, their voices fill by video audio as if they are beside me, yelling their loving words to the Vicar of Christ on earth. The excitement reaches a pitch.
Each of us remarked that we felt he looked right into our eyes...
Who is that girl in Marian blue waving to her Papa?
Above, I can see the emotion on my husband's face.
Can you see me above?
What a cherry on the top of an already incredible vacation! Perfect for our last day, our vacation crescendoed at a truly high point. (My 2nd son said today, trying to focus on his schoolwork, that maybe why he couldn't stay focused was because he was still thinking about Roma-trying to believe - all the incredible things that happened to us!)
None of us wanted to leave Rome, still so much more we could see and do there and elsewhere in Italy. We pray to return. We threw our coins in the Trevi fountain and that seems to have worked for my husband...
Some of our favorite times, perhaps when we could have been doing other things, were our repeat visits to the Piazzas. We're Piazza people, it seems....luving the energy there, the people watching.
For our last night we decided to return again to Piazza Navona. It was alive with artists and their paintings and street performers. I picked up some watercolors from an artist to remind us of some of our favorite spots. The "littles" were transfixed by the comedian and the break dancing street performers.
And so, we strolled around the loop, looking at menus. Haven't had a bad meal in Rome...expect the Vatican cafeteria. Street musicians playing, the sun setting, the wine flowing we sunk into our cafe chairs at Dolce Vita hoping to become a part of them and make the night last longer. As my youngest son takes this photo tell me if you don't see genuine, unbridled, happy, joy on each of our faces?!
Arrivederci Roma. A week later I am still sighing for you....
No cars coming, I stood in the middle of the street for this shot.
The shot below,well, I had less success holding back that tide. Thursday, day eight and May 5th came and we had plane tickets home....nine days, not enough yet grateful for every second of them!
Destination, home... I love my home, but I've also never loved any other place like Rome. It is now my Eternal City, too.
Which reminds me of something my oldest said, halfway into the vacation. He said that he loved his home and neighborhood but that it had nothing that Rome had. (He was a bit more colorful in his word choice.) Remembering what my dear Nana used to say he agreed, Rome has culture....and so much more.
Day 1 - Day 2 - Day 3 - Day 4 - Night Before JPII's Beatification - Day 5Beatification - Day 6 - Vatican Bloggers Meeting Part 1 - Part 2 - Day 7