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Rome: St Peter's Basilica - Vox Audita Perrit, Literra Scripta Manet....
The heard word is lost, the written letter remains...
Rome: St Peter's Basilica
Alright, so I was going to post the photos on the journal, but I decided to take advantage of the lj galleries instead and just talk about them here. The first set of pictures is here.

This was my first full day in Rome (15th November), and the occasion for these photos was the Wednesday Papal audience. Tickets to the audience were gotten through an Australian priest, Father Tony. He works at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (Ratzinger's old stamping ground before he got the promotion), and is one of the coolest guys I've ever met (something bizzare and inherently cool about a priest who rides a motorbike to work). So, we had to get tickets off of him at the inquisition offices before we went into the square. Our hotel was a five minute walk from St Peter's, but we got to the square early in order to secure seats.

St Peter's defies words. I don't think that even my photos can show what a magnificent piece of artwork it all is. When we got there (around 9:00am, an hour and a half before the audience began), the square was already full of people, most of which were in pilgrim groups from the States, Poland, Germany, Spain, France and other places I can't remember. I haven't seen so many relgious in one place in my life. Young seminarians some of which were really good looking, priests, bishops, cardinals, monks, nuns, all dressed in traditional vestments (priests in Australia don't tend to wander about in their cassocks, but it's quite the opposite in Italy). The atmosphere was very friendly. There was an American ecumenical women's group behind us who sang hymns, and numerous other people with instruments were singing or playing songs. It was quite lovely, really. I don't know a lot of Italian, but the ones sitting next to us were so friendly and interested in hearing about Australia.

The Pope was driven into the square at about 10:20 in the popemobile. He was driven around the square in a clear path, waving to all the people who'd come to see him (there are no photos of this because I couldn't get a clear shot, sadly). He opened the audience with a prayer and then a reading from the letter of St Paul was given by a series of priests in Italian, French, Spanish, English, German and Polish. Benedict then gave a homily in Italian, and in addition a summarized version in the other above languages. It was all quite impressive. I don't particularly like Benedict (but that's more a reflection of my desire for the church to progress a little in some doctrines), but I liked his sermon. Let it be said that he is one of the most learned and well-spoken theologians, if nothing else.

When Benedict finished his sermon, the series of priests who gave the readings each took turns pointing out the various pilgrim groups who had come to the audience from each country. This was a lengthy progress, broken up by cheering and songs being sung to the Pope. After this was done, the Pope said a final prayer in Latin and the audience finished, at which point he turned to the large group of visiting bishops/cardinals seated behind him who were to pay him homage, as it were.

After lunch, we returned to the square, to actually take a look inside the basilica and loiter around the area (we visited Castel Sant Angelo later in the afternoon, which I will recount at later time, probably along with the visit to the Borghese gardens and villa the next day). The interior of the Basilica is magnificent (and again my photos don't do it justice, mainly because the flash on my camera sucks and the lighting wasn't great). Beautiful art and architecture, including Bernini's baldacinno and Michaelangelo's Pieta, one of my favourite pieces of sculpture ever. Had much fun going around the various tombs and monuments and reading the Latin inscriptions (found 'Rockhamptionem' on one of the lists of bishops- hee!). Sometimes the little things got me- like the foot of St Peter's statue being rubbed smooth by all the pilgrims that have touched it over the centuries. Or the graffiti on the marble columns, left by pilgrims who came here in the 18th century.

All that said, I couldn't help but wonder if the place would've been just that bit more magical if there hadn't been a huge number of tourists in there (hate to think what it's like in the summer). I think the trick is to go first thing in the morning (it opens at 7:00), and perhaps it's a little more quiet and pleasant then. But in any event, it was not a disappointment.

In the next episode: Castel Sant Angelo and the Borghese Gardens. I might update tomorrow night, depending on what I'm doing after my graduation ceremony (and what fun that'll be- I'll probably trip getting up on the stage to receive my BA).

Current Mood: accomplished accomplished

2 comments or Leave a comment
severa From: severa Date: December 3rd, 2006 08:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
Damn, between this post and having read a fic set in Rome last night, I really really want to go back. Maybe I shall go dig out my old photos and sigh longingly.
praeteritio From: praeteritio Date: December 5th, 2006 09:01 am (UTC) (Link)
Keep the updates coming...I'm enjoying reading them
2 comments or Leave a comment