By Emma Montross, MA 2014-15
On Sunday, November 16th I was fortunate enough to, for a price, travel on a Lorenzo de’Medici-sponsored trip to Vatican City for the Papal Angelus. For those who do not know, as I did not before attending this event, the Papal Angelus is a weekly occurrence in which Papa (Italian for Pope) addresses the crowd in Piazza di San Pietro from the papal apartments above the square. The Angelus usually includes a reading from the Bible with a short reflection, and then he, with the crowd, prays the Angelus Domini. Papa Francesco wraps up his fifteen-minute address by greeting pilgrims and tourists alike below in various languages. He blesses the crowd and any holy objects visitors may have with them (who doesn’t need a little bit of extra help to get through finals?). In addition to walking away with a flawless gift in the form of a blessed rosary for my grandmother, I left with a distinct sense of awareness.
Now, I will be the first to admit that my Italian and Latin are not as strong as I would like them to be, so instead of talking about the significance of what Papa may or may not said, I will focus on the things I definitely know. I definitely know I love Pope Francis’ speaking voice (it was eloquent, soothing, and genuine), and I definitely know that to be in St. Peter’s Square while he was addressing many with baited breaths was a unique experience I will have a hard time forgetting. At least a good two thousand people were all standing, quietly, politely, listening to a speck of a man in a window above talking about peace, togetherness, and accepting those that may be different from you. While quickly attempting to translate his words, I experienced a feeling similar to that of when I visited the Coliseum; reverence, the understanding that history was and continues to be made here in Rome, and that even though the people around me might not speak the same language, we were still all having the same underlying human conscious experience in that moment.
It was a pleasant and humbling surprise for a temporarily bright Sunday morning (as soon as Papa Francesco retreated for lunch, it proceeded to thunderstorm the rest of the day). I am glad that my friends and I were able to calm down (we were in Roma!!) for a moment in time and experience a wisp of reflection before attempting to coerce our seminarian tour guide into showing us everything Rome had to offer in approximately three hours. I can only imagine that he was so very relieved to drop us off at the train station at the end of the day. After all, catering to a group of eight graduate students that do not know enough to give the tour themselves, but enough to know when you are wrong is a taxing venture. He was certainly a good sport about it.
I can only suggest that if Lorenzo de’Medici offers this trip again anyone who can manage to go, does. It was a fun, much-needed break from the hustle of Florence (if that’s possible to imagine), and while there I found out on the Wednesday Papal Angelus Papa Francesco rides around on the Popemobile to shake hands with people in the crowd. We definitely need at least one Marist Italy student to return stateside with proud honor of having shaken hands with the Pope. Will it be you? I am not going to lie, I hope it will be me.
For Papa Francesco’s November 16th Angelus Address, click here: http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/it/angelus/2014/documents/papa-francesco_angelus_20141116.html
Photos by Emma Montrose