Thursday, December 25, 2014

Rome & Vatican City: Christmas

Last night Ed and I attended the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord at St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City. This was an impressive Mass.

We arrived just before 6:30 p.m., with the understanding that doors wouldn't open until 7:00; the Mass itself would begin at 9:30. The line to get in was so long that it had wrapped itself around the square completely, and was starting to fold back in on itself. We managed to make it into the Basilica itself shortly before 8:30 p.m., and even managed to get a seat, although it was closer to the rear of the Basilica. I'd been hoping to get a seat near the aisle, but I think everyone else had hoped that as well. Fortunately, we were maybe eight or ten seats away from the aisle.

There were a lot of people at Mass. This was our view
from where we were sitting (or, in this case, standing).
This does not mean I caught more than a glimpse of Pope Francis, though; during the processional, the woman sitting next to me stood on her chair, effectively blocking the view for a number of us who were sitting around her. I saw a few dozen bishopric hats go by.

One of the very nice souvenirs we now have, though, is a very nicely assembled booklet for the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord. What was well-done was that on most pages, the prayers were translated into English and Italian, but English and Italian were not the only two languages spoken, nor were they even the primary languages spoken, although Italian was up there. Readings and prayers were said in French, Spanish, German, English, Italian, Arabic, and Chinese. Pope Francis' homily was in Italian, of course (I discovered a translation on the Vatican website; it had been translated into a number of languages), but many of the prayers were said and sung in Latin, which was beautiful.

Apparently about 8.000 people were inside the Basilica for Mass, and another 3,000 were able to follow along on the screens that were set up outside in St. Peter's Square. An Israeli soprano, Chen Reiss, sang "Et Incarnatus Est" from Mozart's Mass in C minor; the music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Manfred Honeck, conducted the orchestra of the Accademia di Santa Cecilia in Rome.

Midnight Mass from Michelle Szetela on Vimeo.

We slept in on this morning, and a very late lunch at Al Chiostro. We originally made reservations to go out for Ethiopian food, but we had such a big lunch so late that we're likely to just look for a local place and have something light.

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