Sunday, 11 August 2013

Pope Francis addresses the crowd

We had intended to visit the Historical Museum of the Liberation of Rome which is about Italy's experience during the Second World War.  But it never happened.  We walked beyond St Peters Square and realised that streams of people were heading towards it.  I asked a lady if the Pope would be appearing this morning.  Yes.  So we stood under the obelisk in the centre of St Peters Square and waited.  Some young girls sat near us and sang many songs both in Italian and English, which entertained us for most of the hour we waited.  Since I was dressed in a white shirt, and wore a white cap, I knew it was possible some people might think I was the Holy Father, but I guess my youthful appearance was my saving grace.

At last at midday, the Pope emerged at the second window from the right on the top floor of the building at the right of the square.  It was great to see him.  During the entire 15 minute address, in which we could also see him on big screens, he spoke only in Italian.  I identified only a few words.  'Questo' and 'quello' he said a lot ('this' and 'that').  The Pope said 'desidera' a few times, meaning to want or desire.  He said 'tutti noi' and 'tutti voi' ('all of us', and 'all of you').  He also said 'tutti nazione' ('all nations').  Then, after he clearly said 'Ramadan', which ended a few days ago, I understood him to talk of Christians and Muslims.  I believe he said we should all live together in peace.  I also felt the Pope was greeting particular groups in the crowd because off to the left a small number of people would cheer and shout.  A moment later, off to the right, the same again.  Some groups raised banners with words of greeting to the Pontiff, calling him Francesco.  ('Pope Francis' in Italian is 'Papa Francesco', which you see all around Rome on the post cards, tea towels, and calendars.)  The Pope chanted some appropriate religious texts, and the crowd murmured appropriately back.  As he parted, the Pope smiled, said some words and waved.  The crowd reciprocated.  We are not Catholics, but we were really pleased to have seen the Pope, and thought the experience well worth the wait.

This evening, we took a very interesting free tour through the streets of Rome.  It started at the Spanish Steps, and included stops in some churches.  The church of St Ignatius was cool.  The subsoil was too unreliable to build a heavy dome, so the dome was painted on the ceiling instead of constructing one.  The little miniature dome that usually sits atop a church's large dome was an optical illusion, moving when you did.  We finished up at the Trevi Fountain.

The Pope addresses the faithful
Our view of the Pope (and on big screen) from the middle of St Peters Square
The crowd cheers the Holy Father
Young Italian girls singing while waiting for the Pope
The Spanish Steps
The fountain at the Spanish Steps: a typical scene in Europe in summer
Facade of St Ignatius 
The basement level depicts the level of Rome 1,850 years ago.  Rome is higher now because of sediment deposits through the Tiber River flooding again and again.
Jean and I at the Trevi Fountain
The Tiber River at night, and the Vatican to the right

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