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January 18, 2007

Day Five

day5a.jpgDay five was New Years Day. We did not stay up to greet the New Year the night before, because this morning we were to up bright and early. Yep, it was “O Dark Hundred” as we used to say during Simbang Gabi. We were very early to St. Peter’s, in line by 7:00am. The doors would not open until 8:30am so we had an hour and a half to witness how Romans and tourists make lines. The front of the line got wider and wider as late arrivals wanted to get prime spots in line. Most amusing were the ones who set up camp near the Colonnade, only to spring to the front of the line as soon as the doors opened. This whole flock of nuns joined us about an hour into the process, never speaking to us, just joining us at the front of the line, even thought the line had extended all the way around the square. Anyway, there we were at the front of the line in the darkness of this cold Roman morning, and guess who else was there? We seemed to always be running into these seminarians from Louisiana. They are delightful young men, in the fourth year of philosophy and a whole group of them making a Christmas pilgrimage to Rome. We all enjoyed the conversation. Some of them were from The Diocese of Lake Charles. One of them said he was there praying for a bishop for his Diocese. I shared stories of the time I taught at Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish School in Lake Charles back in the mid ‘70s. I think I was their age at the time, having just graduated from college.


The gates opened at 8:30am and we all made a mad dash for our seats. This time we hoped to be as far forward as we could and we hound four seats in the second row. There were some French speaking young people who eventually made their way up to the front, and even thought they did not have seats, they made their presence felt. One of them unfurled a French flag when the Pope processed in, and he also draped himself in the flag when he knelt to receive communion later. The Mass was beautiful. Most beautiful was the singing of Mass IX. Here is the Pope’s homily for that morning.



After the Mass we all crowded into the Square to receive the Urbi et Orbi Blessing of the Holy Father. First we had to do a group picture of all those seminarians from Louisiana. Then it was time to eat.

day5e.jpgWe were fast becoming accustomed to Italian eating, long leisurely lunches with Anti-pasta, Pastas, a Second course, Salad, dessert, grappa and limoncello. After lunch we headed back to our Villa and took a nice nap.

day5f.jpgAt about 6:00pm we took a taxi to St. John Lateran, determined to catch up on the sight seeing we had missed on the first day. This was the beginning of hearing my companions recite this mantra for our facilities manager back home. Donalyn text messaged him saying, “be afraid, be very afraid.” You see, we would see Crèche scenes all around Rome, and I could be heard to say, “hmmm, we could do this.”

It was hard to believe, but we ware hungry again. It was after 8:00pm and all the Roman Trattorias were opening. We walked down the Boulevard to see what we could find. We happened on this little Pizzeria called Makkarone. Our first clue should have been the wine. It was terrible. The food was terrible. Stan’s Lasagna was dry as bone, and I am not sure what sort of pasta I had. It was the worst meal of the trip. When we got back to our Villa we determined that we could not end New Years day that way. Our favorite Pizzeria was pack, but across the Piazza was this little Bar-Café, the kind that is popular in Rome. We ordered a bottle of wine and they brought by some little bruschettas. It was a pleasant way to end the day.

Posted by Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, C.PP.S. at January 18, 2007 3:56 PM

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Fr. Jeff, Thank you for the photos and the commentaries. It is lovely to be able to 'live' the trip with you vicariously (without having to be up at the crack of dawn!). Maria Elena & Dave

Posted by: Maria Elena at January 20, 2007 8:21 AM

Thanks for sharing all the events and photos, Fr. Jeff. That was definitely a high-energy pilgrimage punctuated by some high-energy meals.

And when I go to Rome in February, I'm not taking my hand off my bag for a moment.

Posted by: Mary Jane at January 20, 2007 3:58 PM

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