At 3pm, a few friends and I headed to the English College, which is the British seminary here in Rome, for the Good Friday service. The College is really beautiful, and the seminarians did a wonderful job. Afterward, I headed to my family's apartment that they rented while they were here, to spend their last night in Rome with them. It was tough saying goodbye, but it helps knowing that I'll be home in a month! (Wait, what???)
Holy Saturday was a really great day. We started out the day by climbing the Scala Santa, or Holy Stairs. These are 29 steps that are supposed to be the stairs that Jesus climbed up to Pontius Pilate. St. Helena brought them to Rome, among other things, back when transporting an entire staircase was apparently a feasible thing to do. Now, I said climbed, but the thing about Scala Santa is that you ascend the stairs on your knees.
It was a painful and spiritual experience. Kneeling on each step praying the entire way can't help but bring you closer to Christ's suffering, and having just watched the Passion the night before certainly enhanced the experience.
Afterward, it was a beautiful day, so we went to see St Maria Maggiore, which is one of the four major basilicas of Rome. Then we went grocery shopping for our Easter dinner, and then took naps in preparation for the Easter Vigil!
After dinner at Abbey Theater, Cait, Mary, and I headed back to the English College for the four hour Easter Vigil. It was really beautiful and it actually didn't feel four hours long, though part of that may be due to the fact that I spent most of the first hour playing with the wax from my candle and making shapes with it. Anyway, they really did do a great job with it, and afterward we stayed for a bit for some champagne and chocolate with everyone before heading home.
After a mere 3 hours of sleep (ouch) we were back up again for Easter: Round 2- this time with Papa Fran! We were out the door by 7 and managed to get great seats up front for Mass at 10:30. We got a little nervous because he didn't process at the beginning before Mass like he had for his Inauguration, but never fear, turns out the 3rd Papal Mass with Papa Fran was the charm for me, because I finally got a great picture of him! He finally came around our side of the barricade on the last aisle he went down before heading into St. Peter's to deliver his Sunday Angelus Easter message to the crowd.
After fighting our way back to school through thousands of people, it was back to bed until it was time to make Easter dinner. We had a great meal with 6 people from the dorm.
And today, Easter Monday, we went on a program-offered trip to Castel Gandolfo. We left school at 4 and went about an hour south of Rome to the small town where Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI now resides. It was so cool coming up on the center of town, because I recognized the building that Benedict met the crowds at as he arrived at Castel Gandolfo on the day he resigned. It was so weird and awesome to be in the place that I had seen him waving from on TV as I had stood in St. Peter's Square.
The weather was really rainy today, so it wasn't ideal, but the restaurant we went to had the best antipasti. The wine also seemed to be never-ending, which made for a fun bus ride back. (It's possible the entire bus joined in a rendition of "Die Young" by Kesha as it came on the radio). My bus buddy Cait and I also had a great time singing "Thrift Shop" to each other.
It's the little things like that which are becoming more important as we all realize that we only have one more month here in Rome!!
"I've learned that a storm isn’t always just bad weather, and a fire can be the start of something. I’ve found out that there are a lot more shades of gray in this world than I ever knew about. I’ve learned that sometimes, when you´re afraid but you keep on moving forward, that’s the biggest kind of courage there is. And finally, I’ve learned that life isn’t really about failure and success. It’s about being present, in the moment when big things happen, when everything changes, including myself." - Cynthia Hand