Thursday, February 22, 2007

Italy News, Part 4: Rome (day 3)

Our last day in Rome, we spent the morning climbing to the top of St. Peter's cathedral. I discovered what I knew already: while heights themselves do not bother me, climbing up and down stairs, especially spiral stairs, to get to the heights, is really awful. Especially climbing down. Coming down was the worst. However...being up that high is glorious.

The first part of the climb was inside the church. We were up high enough to be this close to the musiacs on the ceiling.

There was mass going on in the cathedral below. Picture was taken through the fencing up to keep you from falling to your death and on full zoom. We could smell the incense even from up that high, and hear the chanting. Okay, I will say I have deep issues with Catholism, and the--well, I'll call it the "mythology" of Christianity that they pushed on us the whole trip, but I will say that in the service the awe of holy--I like the word "numen", even if it is archaic--was strong. And that's not a bad thing.View from one of the little windows on the final ascent.
Views from the top!!That line of people you see curving all the way along the square is to get inside the cathedral.
My faithful interpreter, Annetka. It was through her that I get most of my information.After the (nervewracking: I am not afraid to admit I had to stop at the break place until I stopped shaking) descent, we went to Vatican Square to see the Pope's weekly address. There were many, many people, and a festive air.There we have it people: the Pope!

but I have to admit I was more entranced by this small specimen of humanity, who was having a grand old time being up high, clapping enthusiasticly when everyone else was clapping, and pulling her mom's hair.

After seeing the Pope, it was back to the monestary to pack and load the bus. On the way out we stopped by the Catacombs--no pictures allowed, sorry--which was pretty cool. The tombs were so small! Just enough space for a body, deeper at the top and narrower for the legs. They looked too small. It was dark and damp and narrow and a tad smelly...

...actually reminding me of the bus ride home, which commenced immediately afterward.

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