Went to the General Audience today, with another girl in the program, Alberta, and a friend of hers who is in town visiting. We arrived outside the square at about 7:45, and got great seats when they started allowing people in at 8. (The audiences don’t start until 10:30, but if you want to get close to the Holy Father you have to be willing to wait!)
I brought a white zucchetto with me (the small skullcaps worn by bishops — bishops wear pink, cardinals red, the pope white.) I was hoping to make a ‘zucchetto swap’ — traditionally, if you bring a white zucchetto to the Pope, he will swap with you for the one he is wearing. Unfortunately, I was only half successful. I managed to get one of the guards/police (not a swiss guard alas:-) to fetch an official, who took my zucchetto up to ‘stage’ where the Holy Father sits for the audiences. (Didn’t give it directly to him that I saw, because the audience had already started.) Unfortunately, I didn’t quite communicate my intentions well enough, and this official interpreted it simply as a gift. So I didn’t get anything in return — but on the other hand, I got to give the Pope a present, that he’ll actually use! Quite exciting. It was a bit expensive, but nevertheless I’m seriously considering trying again after Easter — this time making very sure I make my intentions clear before I hand anything over!
Zucchetto issues aside, it was a wonderful experience. Front row seats are SO worth the wait — the time goes fast, because there’s very much a party atmosphere at Papal audiences, and once the Holy Father passes within four feet of you in the Popemobile, and looks you in the eye (because you’re making a fool of yourself waving a hat around:-), any frustration from the wait is forgotten and you’re ready to do it all over again next week.
The Papal Blessing is also extended to family and friends of those present at the audiences, so y’all got a little bit of love from the Pope today! (not that you wouldn’t, normally, but you know what I mean.)
This upcoming Monday there is a Papal mass at which there’s a decent chance they may officially announce the impending beatification of John Paul II. Hoping to get tickets, so will share what that’s like. And then, of course, the Triduum! And Easter! In Rome! Oh, I am so excited.