Maria and I decided a great way to visit St Peter’s in Rome by attending Church on Sunday morning. We were too late for a seat, but the music was heavenly, the incense exquisite and the sense of history amazing. To visit St Peter’s as a churchgoer, not just a tourist gives you another perspective – even though I understood barely a word of it, it gives you space to be with God, which is what such buildings were made for.
Maria even went to confession during the service and found one offering English – “forgive me father for I have sinned. It is 30 years since my last confession”. I am sure he gave a big sigh at that, but she came out smiling at the unexpectedness of it all, and having made a connection in there. She also has a penance and I have to help her remember the Our Father and Hail Mary over lunch.
After Mass we moved out into the vast St Peters Square – it was packed with people, some carrying flags and signs. As we made our way through the throngs in search of lunch, I looked up and saw a red banner hanging from an open window in a nearby building.
Suddenly a figure appeared and there is a huge roar from the crowd. Wow, not only mass at St Peters but a blessing from the Pope himself!
Next morning we are up early to visit the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel – no queues but hundreds of people still, goodness knows what it is like in the summer! We wander along looking at the treasures, out windows to see glimpses of the dome of St Peters and the Vatican Garden, and after a labyrinth of paths and stairs finally the Sistine Chapel. We find a spot to look in awe and wonder – its all smaller and further away than you expect, but still – to simply be in such a place…