Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Catching up: Arezzo and Rome!

Our Chapter ended on Saturday with a final (8-second) electronic vote: it was unanimous, and the Chapter dissolved itself as a legislative body. Already about half of the members are back in their home countries. I am staying in Rome for a few extra days, taking advantage of the opportunity to visit the historic sites and get photographs for NunBlog and other Pauline initiatives. In fact, that is just what I have been doing since we got back to Rome on Sunday.

Monday, Sister Vanda (from our Montreal community) and I took a (very slow) train north to Arezzo, a medieval town just this side of Florence. The Pauline community there welcomed us, as they
would (hours later) welcome my provincial superior, Sister Leonora, who was coming to visit one of the sisters she had spent years with in Moscow. Sister Vanda was visiting the same sister, and I was there mostly for the art. I couldn't take as many pictures as I wanted (too many of those Vietato Foto signs greeting me), but those I managed to get will give you some idea of this incredible Tuscan town.  In a way, it was also to our advantage that we took the inexpensive train. It stopped in so many little villages along the way that I was able to see a lot of the countryside.

Today a large group of us went to Pope Francis' Wednesday open-air talk in St Peter's Square. Sister Vanda (my companion from Arezzo) had made arrangements for several of us to get tickets from a Sister of the Divine Master (our sister-congregation, founded by Blessed James Alberione). We had to meet her at quarter to seven. Or maybe seven. Or seven-fifteen.

Sister met us outside the Porta Santa Anna (we had just gotten out of the 7:00 Mass there), and led us with some other people right past the Swiss Guard and behind the colonnade. We made a slight left and walked by the Swiss Guard's chapel, and then kept going, in through a door in the great Leonine wall itself.

Note the halberd-style grate.
NunBlogger casts a long
shadow after passing through
 the Bronze Doors.
There was a kind of bank-style teller desk, behind a grate with little halberds at the top. We continued around a corridor and made a left where a Swiss Guard in dress uniform was posted, facing out. We were heading out, too: out of the great Bronze Doors themselves, and into St Peter's Square, where we were admitted into the front section.

Clear image of Babushka-Man in front of me.
He had a great view.
I ended up in the second row (right-hand side), second from the end, behind an elderly gentleman from Portugal. Once the morning grew hot, he donned a light blue scarf and wore it like a babushka. That scarf was kind of hard to get around, so many of my photos have a pale blue tinge toward the left side. Babushka-Man wasn't the only one who felt the sun was a bit too strong. Up on the "sagrado" (the upper level, even with the Papal chair) there was a bishop with a similar idea.

Babushka-Man was here
I had hoped to catch more images of the Holy Father on his way out of the Square. In fact, my group left for pranzo at the nearby Pauline student community, where the affable Sister Rosaria had invited us all to dine. I told them I'd catch up with them, but wanted to wait for the Pope to leave, in case he was going to pass our way. In fact, he would, but only after greeting the bishops (that group above seemed to include the Bishops of the Middle East making their ad limina visit), a Vietnamese government ministry delegation, and each and every person in the front rows of the sagrado area, plus all the newlyweds, the Italian canine organization whose members were there with their dogs.

 I waited 35 minutes, and there were still the canines and their masters lined up along a row of another hundred people.  Ah, Francis! I went for pranzo.

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