When in Rome: "The Big Day"
Following Catholic Charities staff member Lynn Grandon as she travels to Rome, Italy for the April 27 canonization of Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII.
Lynn and her husband are leading a group of approximately 30 pilgrims from throughout the United States in a whirlwind itinerary.
Beyond the April 27 ceremonies, their group will explore the sights and sounds of Rome and Vatican City.
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Our tour owners originally had talked about leaving the hotel at 6am to get to the canonization – then they changed it to 0330, then to 0130!
A number of people bowed out at that turn of events, so I opened up our room for folks to watch on Italian television, to include our computer broadcasting EWTN so that we could hear the English commentary.
Everyone tried to go to bed, but the adrenaline was high!
Sure enough, a brave band, including my husband headed out at 1:30 in the morning!
By the time they reached the vicinity of the Vatican, there were already massive crowds pushing and pressing.
The bodies became compacted, one of our women became ill, one was short and her husband feared for her safety, another began to cry...
They realized that these were the types of crowds where people could be trampled...so, by 5am, they decided to leave and come back to the hotel.
My husband and another brave woman of 70 years decided to persevere!
They ended up being smashed along up to within one block of St. Peter’s square by daylight.
We all enjoyed the beautiful Mass!
He said that each time the JumboTrons would show Benedict, the crowds would erupt with joy!
There was so much garbage on the roads that street cleaners would come through to clear them for the PopeMobile.
Those of us watching were in amazement – we really didn’t talk much amongst ourselves, just stared at the television, many with tears pouring down our faces.
Some of us loved seeing bishops that we recognized.
Our two brave souls were able to see Pope Frances within a few feet as he drove down the road!
This is truly the Catholic church – so many, many nations represented, so many people thrilled to pieces to see the Successor of Peter!
So much for the Romans trying to kill off Christians and to stamp out Christianity!
How amazed they would be to see the millions in their city today, full of joy, singing with all their hearts in the streets – visiting the holy sites and churches in droves – it’s just too wonderful!