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How To Survive A Papal Blessing.

How To Survive A Papal Blessing.

According to my Italian textbook, religion (i.e. Roman Catholicism) is one of the main reasons people go to Rome. Although I am not Catholic, I do acknowledge the impact  that Catholicism has had on Western history and art, plus Father Bosco’s tours usually featured gelato at the end. I even went to the papal blessing.

This is not the line. This is AFTER the line.

What a mistake that was. Sure, it was cool to get decent seats for such a huge event, but honestly, it barely felt worth getting up so early in the morning.

Yes, one has to get up early to visit the Pope. It takes less than an hour to get from campus to Vatican City. The reason is the line: Picture the longest line to a concert you have ever seen. Then remember that Italians do not believe in orderly cues, so it is more like a mass of people in front of the Vatican. Seats fill up fast, so be sure to get your (free!) ticket beforehand.

Here’s another thing you should get beforehand: BREAKFAST. The food at the Vatican is overpriced and tastes only slightly better than the “Italian” food in America. I paid 3 Euro (at least .50 more than average) for mint gelato that was far from the best. Considering the sheer amount of people that go to the Vatican, one would think they would have better food. They do not. They are ripping you off for every last centime. (If anyone knows of a GOOD place to eat near the Vatican, do inform me.) Get breakfast first, even if it is just something small.

Speaking of small things that you should probably get beforehand, if you have any rosaries that need blessing, bring them along. The rosaries available just outside of the Vatican are only slightly overpriced (Rome has some amazingly fancy ones, but the ones at the Vatican aren’t a bargain, either). The blessing itself isn’t much to look at, but one student brought her grandma’s rosary over. That rosary had waited 150 years to reach Vatican City!

If you are going during the summer, bring an umbrella. It is hot, hot, hot in Rome and you will be sitting for a very long time beneath the beating sun. Prepare adequately. Bring a lot of water if they let you take it in. Do what you must to stay cool as long as it does not violate church rules.

Even after all of this, it is sometimes hard to get a good look at the Pope. Bring a camera with zoom in case you do not get a prime seat. It was still pretty cool to be able to speak Latin in public (even though church Latin is pronounced differently from pagan Latin) and, even though the blessing was extremely brief,  there’s something special about my blessed rosary.

In summary, go there once if you are curious, twice if you are a devout Christian. Any more often and you risk your sanity. Oh, and have breakfast beforehand.

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