Sunday, March 2, 2008


Yesterday Sophie, her friend Bethany from Leuven, and I went to a prayer service for university students (OK, none of us is a university student, but I at least spend a lot of my time with them) that included a rosary led by the Pope.

We began at the North American College (the residence for seminarians from the US studying in Rome), where we got these very nice green tickets that allowed us into the procession to the Vatican. Here is Sophie pretending to hate Bethany:

We then processed to the Vatican, each group behind its nations flag.

It struck me as a tad nationalistic, though I suppose it's a way to identify the geographical diversity of the groups. I somehow felt better when we passed a little shrine to Charlemagne: at least Church and Empire aren't still that entwined!

In the Paul VI Audience Hall, once we finally got to our seats (nothing runs on time in Italy, at least not since Mussolini), we had a prayer service on the theme of hope -- not coincidentally, the topic of the Pope's last encyclical letter -- that had groups throughout Europe and North America participating by video link.

Then came time for the Pope's entrance, and it was a bit like Paris Hilton showing up at a club: people were turning around and standing on their chairs to get a glimpse of him, cameras at ready, thinking he would enter from the back of the hall. But then he simply entered from stage left, so everyone had to turn back around.

He led us in praying the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary: he would lead the Our Father and Glory Be at the beginning and end of each decade, while groups of students at different sites around the world would lead the Hail Marys. It was kind of moving to be praying with people in France, Spain, Czechoslovakia, Italy, Russia, Mexico, Brazil and the US, and the technological achievement was impressive, though the whole thing had a bit of a surreal quality. It felt a bit Matrix-like, not being in the physical presence of those I was praying with.

I found the most moving part when the students in Bucharest led us in the singing of the Litany of Loretto.

Sophie and Bethany seemed suitably impressed, despite the fact that most everything was in languages that didn't understand, and they didn't actually get to shake the Pope's hand.

And we got cool plastic glow-in-the-dark rosaries!



Anonymous said...

As usual, fine photos. I didn't get to see the Pope, but I got a post card from Denis which makes me very special! Not much new here, snow in the driveway, after plowing, is over my head and Thomas' too! Getting ready for Anne's wedding. Lorrie, Tupe & some children are comming as are many Smiths. Don't know about Meg & Clayt. Don't think Meg can make it although I know she wants to be here. I am hosting a dinner Saterday night for the whole group at China Gate. Your not having all the fun! Love to 1 & all & the Pope. Papa/Dad

:Lisa from next Door! said...


Trust you to find the most CATHOLIC thing in Rome!! And the tacky rosaries are cool!! Goes with all those sticky stars and planets you stuck on your celing when you were a kid!!

(Truth: I have one of those too!!)

Everything in Europe is Nationalistic!! Who would flag sellers sell to then!!?

Pope looks good, eh?