Yesterday, we went to the church of St. Paul Outside the Walls. This church is called “outside the walls” because it is outside the city near where Paul was executed, this was because no executions took place inside the city of the living. It is also the 4th papal church and is where St. Paul’s tomb is currently kept! Along the inside walls of the church, at the top, are pictures of all the popes, the spotlight being on Pope Francis, since he is the current pope. We also discovered, on our way out, that the pope had decreed that pilgrims who come to visit this church are blessed with a plenary indulgence, provided of course, that all the criteria for a plenary indulgence are met in addition to visiting the church. We definitely ceased this opportunity! What a magnificent church it is!
Today, we went to a general audience with Pope Francis!!! WHAT!!?! Words cannot express the utter joy and peace we felt! We got an early start, the audience was at 10:00 am, we were told by the Swiss guard to get to the square by 8 a.m. So, what did we do? We left at about 6 am, naturally. We wanted to be sure we would get good seats, to be as close to Pope Francis as possible. We were a little frightened by the stories we had heard of people being super pushy, and seeming like they had elbows made of knives when it came to being close to the pope!
After waiting in line for a good while, we were allowed into St. Peter’s Square, we hurried to find some seats. The seats we got were perfect! We were right up against the isle the Holy Father was to pass through! We literally could not have gotten better seats.
During our two hour wait, we met an older couple from Spain. It was so much fun to talk with them (in Spanish) and tell them that we too would be traveling to Spain soon! Making friends in Europe is so much fun, we’ve been meeting the coolest people!
Finally, it was time! The crowd pushed in. People were getting stepped on. Two young American girls right behind us apologized in advance for possibly falling on top of us. They were standing in front of a few nuns who are the pushiest of all when it comes to seeing the pope. We tried to make room for them to squeeze in with us so they would be close also.
It’s difficult to explain what we felt when Pope Francis drove by. We were right close to him! We couldn’t quite lean over to touch him, but we were close! We could feel his saintly presence and we were bursting with joy!
After he drove by and went up to the front, a passage from the bible was read in many different languages, then Pope Francis gave his address, which was also summarized in various languages, and then his papal blessing, which extended to us, the holy objects we had with us, and our families back at home. ❤
After the audience, we got some pasta for lunch and then, from the recommendations of our friends Nik and Reggie, went to Old Bridge for gelato! This gelato was absolutely amazing, gelato in general is really good, but wow – this was so good! Kathleen got a cone with pistachio & ricotta, blueberry, and yogurt & sweet candy. Ivana got a cup with pistachio & ricotta, chocolate with hazelnut (it had actually hazelnuts in it), and caramel. Yum!