Tuesday, October 13, 2009

"Il Santo Padre entra"

Il Santo Padre!! Il Santo Pardre!! Si, si!!

I will begin my saying that my Italian is really improving. I figured out, all by myself, that "il Santo Padre entra" means that the Pope is entering. Pretty good, eh?

This weekend was the height of excitement when it comes to living in Rome. I saw il Sant Padre, not once, but twice, as well as celebrated mass with il Santo Padre in St. Peter's Basilica and said the rosary with, guess who...il Santo Padre. He was also about 5 feet away from me at one point. In fact, he was close enough that I could have, had I really long arms, reached out and touched him.

So why was I stalking the Pope all weekend, you ask? Well, besides being what one does on the weekend in Rome (really, can you think of a better diversion then following a holy man around?), this weekend Rome was also celebrating the synod of African bishops as well as the canonization of 5 new saints. We were blessed enough to score tickets to 2 awesome events with the Pope!

On Saturday evening the Pope prayed the rosary for Africa and with Africa. It started with songs from a variety of African nations then a parade of African flags. Several nations offered prayers and young people gave testimonies (although I'm a little unsure of the details since only Kenya and South Africa spoke English). Then "il Santo Padre entra." We prayed the rosary live with maybe 5 African nations. The Pope began with the Our Father, then the African congregations led the Hail Mary's in their own language (English, French, and Arabic, with a bit of Latin thrown in here and there) followed by a prayer by the bishop. It was an awesome event to be praying a truly worldwide rosary.

On Sunday morning the Pope celebrated mass for the canonization of the 5 newest saints: Damien of Molokai, Jeanne Jugan, Zygmunt Felinski, Francisco Guitart, and Rafael Baron. Lydia and I got there pretty early- about 7:30, but there were already hundreds of people surrounding St. Peter's square. Eventually we were let in and we actually made it into the St. Peter's Basilica. We were at the very back in the front row of the standing section. Now, remember, St. Peter's is the largest place of worship in the world, so when I say we were at the back I mean we were REALLY far from the front. But we were inside. The upside of being at the back is that is where the procession to the front begins. Meaning "il Sant Padre entra" directly in front of us. For about 30 seconds the Pope was VERY close. Then he started the long procession to the front of the altar and became a tiny gold speck about 1 mile away. About 2 hours later he came back, right by us once more, so overall it was a pretty good spot. The mass itself was really amazing. The pope canonized the new saints (although I'm not entirely sure what happened since it was in Latin), and then celebrated mass.

What struck me most about this weekend was the worldwide nature of the Catholic Church. On both Saturday and Sunday I heard many different languages and saw people from every corner of the earth, from Hawai'i to France and from South Africa to the Philippines. It was a very special experience to take part in these events and celebrate in such a worldly manner.

I don't know what Roman adventures this next weekend will hold, but surely it will be something fun!!

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