Christmas in the Vatican
On Christmas Eve, we went to Mass at the Vatican – we had tickets through the Embassy (although it turns out that anyone can go, you just have to wait online for 4 hours – actually, you have to wait online for 4 hours even if you have tickets.) We didn’t wait online because people at the embassy told us we didn’t have to if we had tickets. It turns out that was wrong … so we felt really bad after we realized that we had cut a huge line of people.
It turns out that even without waiting outside in the rain for 4 hours, we still had to wait two hours inside the Vatican before the Mass started. So I packed some puzzles to keep Ryan entertained ;-)
There were quite a few fireworks at the beginning of the mass, when a woman leapt from the crowd and tackled the pope. A cardinal actually had to be rushed to the hospital, but the Pope is tougher than he looks, the Papal version of the secret service took down the crazy lady … and the show went on … for TWO HOURS.
The Mass itself was long, and boring at times … but we had a book to follow along with, so we got to practice our Italian. It was neat just be there to experience it all. Different parts of the mass were read in all different languages, with much of the mass being read in Italian and Latin. But it was quite beautiful, and it was very cool to be there, in the Vatican, with so many people from so many different nations – at Christmas.
They actually did communion too, which was very surprising. Cardinals and priests lined the main aisle and gave communion to any one who could make their way over to them. And it was amazing, because while there was no room to move – everyone made room. We made room for anyone who wanted to make their way to the center aisle and have communion in the Vatican on Christmas Eve. The nuns were the sweetest. They had come from all over the world to the ‘Mecca’ of their religion, and they really wanted to receive communion … but they didn’t have to push, because we made sure they got up there. It was really sweet.
And the nuns paid us back … at the end of mass, when there were chairs in the way of us getting out, the nuns made a path, and we just fell in right behind them.
At the end of the mass, we went out in the rain, a priest from Mexico held an umbrella over us, and we sang Christmas carols as we slowly made our way back out to the street.
Caroling at church with my family before and during and after Christmas Mass is one of my favorite things about Christmas – so it was particularly special for me to get to sing carols out in front of the Nativity at the Vatican with a bunch of nuns. I was more than happy to stand out in the rain to sing the carols that were in English, and to try to identify those in other languages. It was probably my favorite part of the evening. It reminds me of my first visit to the Vatican, in 2000, with my Mom. We gathered around the main altar in the middle of the cathedral and people were saying the Our Father in unison – in 20 different languages.