Friday, 17 August 2007

Sunday at St Peter's

Sunday was Hot, with a beautiful clear blue sky. I love seeing the greyish white statues and carvings against the sky, so I went a bit mad taking photos as we walked up towards St Peter's Square. This is the Ponti dei Angeli, which crosses the Tiber in front of the Castel Sant'Angelo (which I'll tell you about separately).

The excitement mounted as we got closer to St Peter's Square.

And then we actually arrived in the Square itself.

It was barely 9 o'clock, and as you can see, the Square was comparatively empty. This was the view of the Square from the steps of the Basilica.

We joined a queue to go through airport-style security to get into St Peter's Basilica - even at that time of the morning, it took a few minutes to get through. For women, the rule about knees and shoulders being covered was being strictly enforced - I saw a group being stopped while one of the women dug a t-shirt out of her backpack to cover her shoulders.

I'm pleased that people are expected to show respect, but the rule is fairly arbitrary - the woman looked quite elegant in her spaghetti-strapped top and neat trousers, but significantly less so once she had put on a t-shirt with the name and image of some heavy metal band. The image included a skull and crossbones. Still, her shoulders were covered, and once she had the t-shirt on, she was waved through.

We walked past a handful of Swiss Guard...

... into the main entrance porch, which had a beautiful carved ceiling.

The crowds were routed down through the crypt. We saw the tomb of Pope John Paul II, where a group of nuns was praying and an officious official (is there any other sort?) was glaring fiercely at anyone who looked as though they might ignore the signs which forbade photography.

There was no such officious official at the tomb of St Peter, though, so I managed to get a quick illegal snap (without flash, so not the best picture ever) of that.

And then we were up in the church itself.

One of the first things we saw, off to our right, was the Pieta.

In all of Rome's churches, and especially in St Peter's, you have to remember to "raise your eyes to the Heavens", because there are so many wonderful ceilings...

... including, of course, the dome itself.

We were told there was a Mass in half an hour in the Cathedra of St Peter, just the other side of the Baldacchino. While we were waiting, I noticed that there were several confessionals off to our right, where priests were hearing confessions in various languages. I lined up outside the English one, who heard my confession before Mass began.

The Mass was a Novus Ordo Latin Mass, concelebrated by 18 priests and five bishops, with beautiful music from the choir.

Tourists who weren't attending Mass weren't allowed into the Cathedra of St Peter. As we left at the end of Mass, though, we were able to take a couple of pictures of the Baldacchino with the papal altar.

1 comment:

diana said...

absolutely gorgeous!