The Vatican Museum tour was worth the money. It even held the kids’ attention for about the first hour.
^^^give the kids the camera for a while. 🙂 it helps occupy them and keep them focused. (Ha! Photography humor…)
And then we entered the Sistine Chapel, in which photography is prohibited. The Japanese company that funded the restoration owns the copyrights of the Sistine Chapel for 30 years. Bet you didn’t know that a church could be copyrighted. Anyway, the restorations must’ve been a success because the chapel is gorgeous! And wall to wall people. And dark. And hot. And there are only two exits. And once I saw the few panels I wanted to see, I couldn’t wait to escape. Picture a sea of tourists crammed in a beautiful shoe box.
And then to St Peter’s Basilica.
It is bigger than TV or books or photos can ever depict.
…and then I saw The Pieta and started crying…
Being Catholic, I get a lot of flak for “worshipping Mary”. Catholics don’t worship her, but we do understand that she and Joseph had important roles in salvation history. When I saw The Pieta, I felt for her as a mother. Her son was dead, murdered in a violent and prolonged way. She knew of His impending resurrection, but still she held the broken and bleeding body of her son. This is every mother’s worst nightmare: to hold the body of a dead child. I imagined my sons in the place of Jesus…tortured, dead… The once-smooth skin ripped from their muscular little backs…their dimpled cheeks gone slack from death…my brain rebelled and my stomach threatened to as well.
And so I cried. I went to the altar set up near the tomb of Blessed John Paul II and I cried silently with my hands over my face. My children are healthy. My husband loves me. I am in Rome at St Peter’s Basilica. Gratitude flooded through me. I prayed and I thanked God for my salvation, my family, for my life.
The Pieta served its purpose. I will never worship Mary; her situation as a mother, though, brings my faith in her son to a singularly personal depth. This is the function of true Marian devotion: Mary always leads you to love her son more.
(end of sermon.)
I attended Mass in one of the many chapels in St Peter’s, each one large enough to fit most regular churches. The Mass was in Italian, but I didn’t care. 🙂
And then we left St Peter’s. We stopped by the USO (love the USO!) then went back to the hostel to make dinner.
After eating in crappy, over priced restaurants, this was a welcomed meal. A package of pasta, olive oil, salt, Parmesan cheese, shredded chicken, and some pesto. The kids filled up, the adults fairly gorged, and all for <€20. Long live the grocery store.
At the airport on our way to the UK, I discovered these:
No ketchup or mustard here! 🙂
We’re in the UK now, enjoying much cooler temps and a slightly smaller crowd of tourists. We’re headed for one of Jamie Oliver’s restaurants later! Cheers!