Page 3 - Saturday, November 4, 2000
Today we are up at 5:30 or 6:00 AM. We will be off to St. Peter's for morning mass, first though is breakfast. Breakfast is hard rolls, pastry, ham, cheese, cereal, milk, coffee, tea, juice, hot chocolate and cappuccino. Since an appointment needed to be made for mass at St. Peters, we were on the bus and headed for the Vatican at 7:00. Mass is to be at 7:45. This Saturday, St. Peters is closed to tourists due to a special event with the Diocese of Milan. However, with our appointment, we will be able to get into St. Peters. The bus dropped us off at an illegal drop off point (we needed to evacuate the bus quickly). (This being a special Holy Year, Rome authorities evidently have placed more restrictions on where tour buses can load and unload tourists. We will have several more illegal loading and unloading of the bus.) Since St. Peters was closed to tourists, we could not enter by the main doors. We went around to the side and entered through a back door. Even though St. Peters was closed to tourists, it was impossible to stop us from St. Catherine's from wandering and taking pictures. St. Peters is magnificent with many chapels. In several of these chapels, there was a priest saying mass. The priest may have been attended by an alter server, but there were no others at mass with him. My impression is that these were either Vatican staff members saying daily mass or were visiting priests (tourists) saying mass in St. Peters. Our morning mass was to be in the crypts under St. Peters. The crypts were entered via a stairway behind an alter. There are several chapels in the crypts, and each appeared to have a tour group having mass. After morning mass, we viewed the tomb of St. Peter which is in the crypts and then went back up the stairs into St. Peters. We again spent some time wandering St. Peters while Father Thomas returned the vestments and vessels. It was wonderful to have St. Peters to ourselves without all the other noisy and intrusive tourists! Then it was time to leave St. Peters and go to the Vatican Museum. There are many wonderful works of art in the museum. It is very worthwhile to go visit. However, being on a time schedule, we could not spend very much time viewing the artwork. From the museum, we directly entered the Sistine Chapel. The Sistine Chapel was wall to wall tourists. It was hot and stuffy. However, the artwork of Michelangelo is breathtaking. Photos are forbidden in the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museum. It was now time for lunch. Pat and I had pizza and cokes. After lunch, and after going through some gift shops, mama Rita said that St. Peters was opening back up. The event for the Diocese of Milan was over and we could go visit St. Peters with all the other tourists. After standing in line, fighting to keep our place in line, we finally entered St. Peters with all the other noisy and intrusive tourists. We only had a few minutes before we needed to leave to go catch a public bus to see a famous square (do some shopping) and then to the Pantheon. While the group tried to stay together in St. Peters, we did get separated and needed to wait until all were back together. This was a whirlwind walk through of St. Peters lead by Father Thomas. Some of the group took a taxi and went back to the hotel. We had several individuals in the group who were not up to all the walking. We caught a bus (it was empty so mama Rita commandeered it for our group). We got to the square. There was a magnificent fountain in the square as well as shops and restaurants. Evidently, it is a popular place for the natives to visit and to live. There were many apartments surrounding the square. Pat and I had ice cream (a truffle? of some sort). We sat down at a table to enjoy the ice cream and the sights, but the waiter chased us off. You can only sit down at the restaurant if the waiter serves you. We had been warned about this but had forgotten. After the square, we walked to the Pantheon. What a wonderful structure! It has been turned into a church with several alters/chapels. This two thousand old structure has solid marble columns. Magnificent. My understanding is that the dome over the Pantheon continues to be the largest of its kind. Amazing. After the Pantheon, we walked back to the bus stop to catch a public bus to take us to the place to get our tour bus to take us back to the hotel. We got to the bus stop and waited for the correct bus. When the first one got there, it was full of people from Milan. No room for Texans. Same with the second correct bus and the third.....Finally a bus on the correct route arrived and it had some room. Mama Rita told us to get on. "Push" she says but get on. We got on and really got to know the people around each of us VERY well. We were packed in that bus like a can of sardines. We would get off at the third stop. Of course, there were natives on the bus who needed to get off before our stop. It was then time for them to push in order to get off. We finally got to our stop and had a short walk to our tour bus (this time parked legally). We got back to the hotel to freshen up and have dinner. Dinner was pasta, salad, vegetable, some kind of meat (chicken/turkey/pork/veal???) and dessert. And plenty of wine. There was another birthday to celebrate and then it was time to go to bed. It would be an early morning for Sunday mass with the Pope in St. Peters Square.
Now for the days pictures. Please click on any of the thumbnails below to view a larger version of the picture.
The five pictures below were taken by the side door where we entered St. Peters. The statues are in niches in the wall of St. Peters. The statues are larger than life size (probably twice the height of a normal person). I believe the 3rd and 4th pictures is a statue of St. Catherine of Siena. The 5th picture is of the Vatican gardens.
The 10 pictures below were taken in St. Peters. These pictures do not St. Peters justice. It is magnificent. The 1st 2 pictures are of the famous Pieta by Michelangelo. The 2nd picture is of a statue of St. Peter. I did rub his feet with my hands. His feet are very worn!! The last picture is Pat in front of a confessional in St. Peters. The other pictures show various aspects of St. Peters, including a couple of priests saying mass.
The five pictures below show the crypt where we had morning mass. It was a moving experience to have mass in this historical place. The last picture shows headstones of graves from early Christian times.
This picture was taken in crypt under St. Peters.
The 5 pictures below are of St. Peters. The crowds for the Diocese of Milan event are large. The are 15,000 - 20,000 people in St. Peters Square. The 5th picture shows the Pope's apartment. It is on the top floor of this building on the right hand side.
Some street scenes around the Vatican. The 4th picture depicts a portion of the Vatican wall.
These 5 pictures are of the square where Pat and I had ice cream. The fountain was very impressive. The 3rd picture shows a monument that has a meaning which I have forgotten. Something about the largest or longest rivers on each of the then known continents.
And now the Pantheon. The first 3 pictures are of the Pantheon. The 4th picture was taken in the same square as the Pantheon.
These 7 pictures were taken inside the Pantheon. The graves of and monuments to several famous Italians are inside the Pantheon including the first King of Italy who unified all the various city states. It is a magnificent edifice.
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