The Pope, Palm Sunday and Climbing St Paul's
Trip Start Feb 05, 2010
101Trip End May 20, 2010
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I'm tired so I send Steve to go up St. Paul's dome. I'm also afraid of heights - something I'm usually able to deal with. I've decided not to stress myself out with the dome experience.
Steve writes the following. The square is packed. The pope-mobile has already brought Benedict XVI to the outdoor altar on the steps leading into St. Peter's. The north security entrance line is longer than I want to wait. I walk to the south which has a shorter line and just a brief visual bag check rather than the magnetometer. I quickly enter the square to join the Mass which has already started. The Pope is under a sun canopy. Four large monitors project images of him and the crowd. There is a grand view from the roof of Saint Peter's which is periodically displayed
The audience includes devout pilgrims clutching rosaries, women shedding tears and gawking tourists with video cameras. The Pope needs two attendants to help him up and down the stairs. He gives communion to about 100 men, women and children. His homily is in five languages: Spanish, French, German, Italian and English. Besides a traditional Easter greeting, he discusses how faith in God grants courage to face the gossip of dominant opinion. He also states that man may fall to low, vulgar levels and sink into sin and dishonesty.
At the end of mass, given in Latin, I beeline for the cupola which had been closed along with the basilica. It is now open. I am one of the fortunate few to make it to the top before the line gets long. A clear day. The view is extraordinary. No building in Rome is higher than St. Peter's dome. I see the Coliseum, the Tiber river and many hills. The dome of the Pantheon and many church domes stand out. The Most striking is the monument to Vittoria Emmanuale II - white marble shining in the sun which we will visit on Tuesday
I write: In the afternoon we take #40 bus to Castle Saint Angelo. This saint slew a dragon. Admission is 7.50e. It is 5E when there is not a special exhibit. The exhibit is small but excellent. Pieces include reliquary and monstrance, so I decide to look up exactly what these are. This is a fun castle with wonderful views. I suggest you go when lighting is good to enjoy the view and the color of the stone. You can also walk around the outside of the castle for free. Here, as elsewhere in Rome, I enjoy golden bee carvings which was the emblem of the wealthy Barberini family. One Barberini became a Pope. The castle is next to the Tiber River and a pedestrian only bridge across the river. There are various other bridges and you can walk along the river.