Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Pope's General Audience and Scavi Tour

Our morning began today with an exciting attendance at Pope Benedict XVIth's General Audience in St Peter's Square. We arrived with our tickets at about 9.20am, and after a brief security check, took our unreserved seats in the Square in the warm Roman sunshine. Thousands of pilgrims, locals, clergy and school students packed  St Peter's Square, awaiting the Pope's arrival at 10.30am. Large television screens and a large "stage" were set up in front of the Basilica.

Pope Benedict arrived on time in his pope mobile, to the cheers and waves of his followers. People then sat, as the Pope made his way to the front of St Peter's. The next one and a quarter hours comprised of Pope Benedict reading his message, in many different languages, followed by singing of the "Our Father." Groups of pilgrims, school groups and others from all over the world were acknowledged for their presence. It was a very long but joyous occasion.

After a brief stop for lunch, Brett Snr and Jnr and Tricia sent a few postcards from the Vatican Post Office and then headed to a very special Scavi Tour. This "tour" is limited to small groups of about 12 and must be booked directly through the Vatican months ahead. It is really more like a pilgrimage and no photography is allowed. A Vatican guide leads you through the Roman Necropolis (city of the dead), of Imperial times, 4-12 meters under St Peter's Basilica. The excavation was ordered by Pope Pius XI and occurred between 1940 and 1949. The tour culminates in witnessing a small group of the purported bones of St Peter, positioned immediately below the Basilica's altar.

Getting seated for the Pope's General Audience

A painting adorning St Peter's exterior

Television screens aid the audience's view

Awaiting the Pope's arrival

St Peter's Square was filled with followers from all over the world

The Pope arrives in his pope mobile

The special "stage" erected for the General Audience

Pope Benedict XVI

A grander view of the stage
Tonight, though tired, we decided to discover what Rome looked like at night - on foot. To our disappointment, we felt so many wonderful monuments were poorly illuminated. Our search for something delicious (preferably vegetables) other than pizza or pasta also failed. Sad to say, after two and a half hours of walking, McDonald's and Burger King saved what otherwise had been a wonderful  day!                Tricia

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like you are all keeping a cracking pace still! What an experience to be there for the Pope's General Audience. Good luck finding some veges - I remember that feeling when you are travelling of just wanting a fresh salad or plate of veges - always elusive for some reason!