This post continues the chronicles of Steve Bridge’s class trip to Rome.
Today we were out the door by 6 a.m. so we could try to get a good spot in line (and thus, good seats) for the Pentecost Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica. Although the mass itself didn’t start until 10, and security didn’t open until 8, we arrived around 6:45. Even at this hour, there were already a few hundred people there, but we were still relatively close to the front of the line.
Not even 15 minutes later, the line had already doubled, and by 7:30 a.m. the line had circled the entire plaza. It just started to sprinkle when the security gates opened, so we were grateful to get inside.
The mass itself was different than any mass I have ever attended. Due to the sheer size of the crowd, there were folding chairs instead of pews. Well, at least for those who got there in time. There was standing room along the sides for people who arrived too late to get a seat. We were fortunate enough to get seats next to the center aisle where Pope Francis processed in and out, so we were able to get some really good pictures of him.
We were also given translations of the missal when we entered (the mass was primarily in Latin) so we could follow along in English. Personally, I mainly followed what I could make out of the Latin. Of course, a number of people took pictures throughout the mass, though I can’t say I blame them. Attending a Papal mass is not something that everyone can say that they’ve done.
Overall, the mass was stunning. Being in Saint Peter’s with the Pope, dozens of bishops, hundreds of priests and nuns, thousands of laypeople, the Swiss guards, and the Vatican choir on the Feast of Pentecost created an unforgettable atmosphere.
Once the mass was over, we made our way out to Saint Peter’s square where an even bigger crowd had assembled for the Pope’s weekly Sunday message.
The ope appeared from the window of his papal apartment, delivered a short greeting, prayed the Angelus, and imparted his apostolic blessing to the throng gathered below.
Following the blessing, we made our way through the plaza, to our unanimously favorite gelato spot: Millennium Gelato. The flavors that each of us have tried (including a spicy chocolate, mint, melon, ricotta pistachio, and a flavor that shares the same name as the store), have been altogether “life altering” (in the words of Lauren Sharples).
We eventually returned to the apartment and took a much-needed siesta. Following that, Lauren, Ms. Fecteau, and Dr. Bridge went to the Church of Santa Croce. This church is situated on the former site of Saint Helen’s (Emperor Constantine’s mother) palace. Its Chapel of Relics feature a number of purported artifacts from Jesus’ passion, including the actual wood from Jesus’ cross, Pilate’s inscription, thorns from Jesus’ crown, and one of the nails used to crucify him.
On display there is also a high-grade, life-sized replica of the Shroud of Turin, which allows visitors to examine this relic in even greater detail than the original.
For dinner, we dined out at one of the local restaurants near our apartment. The menu featured one pasta dish, one meat dish, two vegetable choices, bread, and a drink for around 10 Euros (around $12 US). We agreed that the portions were generous, the food was delicious, and we couldn’t beat the prices!
Submitted by Charlotte Mattingly