Sunday morning, they had us up bright and early: 5 am. We all stumbled into our warmest church clothes, and made our way, very sleepily, to the buses. It was still dark outside, and there was very little traffic as we drove into Rome. Suddenly the dome of St. Peter’s loomed over all the other buildings- completely illuminated.
It was completely silent in St. Peter’s square at 6:45 in the morning, and the sun was barely coming up. The first thing that caught our eyes was an enormous Christmas tree next to the obelisk- see, the Pope doesn’t throw his tree out the day after Christmas. Next to the tree was a sort of tent that held the biggest manger scene in the world.
What you can’t see in the photo is that projected on the walls of the tent were the sun and fluffy little clouds, but these slowly faded, the sun set, and the moon and stars came out. It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen.
Then we went into St. Peter’s itself, which was breathtaking. Unfortunately, it was very dark inside, so it did not make for good picture taking. We had mass at a side altar just to the left of the high altar and just steps away from where St. Peter was crucified!
After Mass, we went on a walking tour of Rome. I didn’t take any pictures because I just wanted to let it all soak in. After all, I do have all semester to take pictures. My favorite thing we did, besides getting gelato, was visiting Santa Maria sopra Minerva, a gorgeous Baroque church which houses a statue by Michalangelo, and, oh, you know, Catherine of Siena’s body, and stuff like that. It was probably the most beautiful church I have ever been into! It had the most gorgeous painted, blue ceiling with gold stars. I would have taken photos, but it seemed really weird to snap a photo before praying in front of St. Catherine’s tomb.
Today was rough, for some reason we’ve got a really funky schedule this week, and we had 5 classes back to back. It was slightly painful, but we did have some awesome sunshine to make up for it.