Ok, we're home, resting, catching up on news and stuff, and finally getting around to posting events from last week, please forgive the delay!
Monday evening saw a portion of our group journey to the residence of the US Ambassador to the Vatican for a short reception in honor of the Archbishops receiving the pallium the next day. I got to meet a few of my brother priests from around the country as well as the members of the NAC class of 1975 who were in town for their 35th anniversary. I lost track of the number of bishops in the class, alas.
From the Janiculum Hill, we traveled down to St. Paul's Outside the Walls for Evening Prayer with His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI.
At first, I was seated fairly far back because I was talking to some folks and didn't get a spot with our group (a common occurrence), but Fr. Hadden, a fellow pilgrim, called me forward for spots for priests. (How Biblical! (Ah, Rome, where clericalism still lives...))
Evening prayer was quite beautiful, but alas I don't speak Italian, so I didn't understand the homily. I have yet to look it up and print it off, but I have time this week for that.
We heard about the US Supreme Court case at the end of Prayer, too, so something extra to pray about.
Afterwards, we journeyed by bus back into the city for dinner on our own. I took a group to Abruzzi's, which any Casa Santa Maria alums would recognize, as it's right around the corner. Yummy!
Tuesday morning dawned bright and clear and a short jaunt over to St. Peter's Square for admittance to the Pallium Mass. I waited for Archbishop Schnurr, as he was 'passing me off' as his secretary for the Mass, all so I could get a better seat, :)
I was a Communion Minister for the Mass (note: NOT a concelebrant, on the honorees concelebrated, everyone else, bishops and Cardinals alike, attended in choir) which means I was seated right by the choir, to the rear of the Confessional Altar, ie Main Altar that only the Holy Father gets to use.
The Mass was better than I could have hoped, and while I didn't have a view of the pallium conferral itself, we did get to see the freshly donned pallia as the Archbishops walked back to their seat. Above, you can see Archbishop Schnurr holding his new pallium after the Mass.
During the Eucharistic Prayer, us poor Eucharistic Ministering Priests (yeah, really 'poor'!) were to stand at the bottom of the steps while holding a ciborium of hosts to be consecrated by the Holy Father. We then went down the main aisle to minister Holy Communion. I guess it worked as smooth as Communion for several thousands can be? Still, a true thrill! Again, the music was unbelievable!
After Mass, up to the North American for a reception and that was that.
Wednesday, General Audience time. Archbishop Schnurr was able to snag us some 'reserved tickets,' in which we were seated immediately to the Holy Father's left, up on the same level. Again, three days in a row to be in proximate locale to the Holy Father! A true blessing!
Prior to Pope Benedict's arrival, we had an epic 'Battle of the Bands' as an 'oompa' band from Switzerland staged off against a bagpipe and drum corps from Saragossa, Spain. I thought the Swiss had it, but the votes were still out by the time we left.
The Holy Father showed and took the tour around the square in the Pope Mobile and made his way up to the dais for the address. Again, no Italian, gotta find the English text somewhere. (I'll post the links when I get the time/energy to look them up.)
By the time it was over, I would say it was at least 90 degree F in the square by the time it was over, and in the black suit, HOT HOT HOT! Alas, a good reminder of where I'll be if I don't change my ways!
Afterwards, Fr. Hadden and I toured a bit of the city before returning to the Hotel Cicerone (near Castle San Angelo) for dinner.
So, three days, three papal experiences. Can't ask for much more than that!
More soon to come.