On Thursday 14 March last I made a very quick decision to go to Rome for the inauguration of Pope Francis. ” I may never get this chance again” I thought. an online search for cheap flights and hotel, and I was all set to go, a mere 36 hours later on Saturday morning. What a wonderful experience! I Could write pages and pages but can only give you and idea of what it was like.
On the day after I arrived, St Patrick’s Day, I went to 10:30 Mass in St Peter’s. On Monday I walked the length and breadth of Rome and among the many places I visited were the Basilicas of St John Lateran, Santa Maria Maggiore, where Pope Francis prayed on the day of his election, St Paul, San Pietro in Vincoli and of course the Trevi Fountain, to toss a coin over my shoulder (said to ensure that you will return to Rome).
On Tuesday morning, the Inauguration Day and the Feast of St Joseph, I headed off to the Vatican at 6:30 to try and get a good vantage point. Thousands had the same idea! Anyhow, I got a good spot, in view of the altar on the steps of St Peter’s and beside one of the huge screens placed around the square.
So many unforgettable things, the Poe moving among the throngs before the Mass; going down to the tomb of St Peter to pray (his ring and pallium had been placed on the tomb the night before); the choir chanting the litany of the Saints with the response ‘Christus vincit, Christus regnat, Christus imperat’ (Christ conquers, Christ reigns, Christ command). The crowd all around me joined in the response. I could identify Spanish, Italian and German among other languages, and of course Maynooth Irish! We were all one int he Universal Church. The applause and delight that greeted Pope Francis when he emerged onto the steps of St Peter’s was amazing. A group of little children near me, wearing little caps with their name on the peak, shouted ‘Papa Francisco, Papa Francisco’.
So many fabulous memories… all nationalities singing th eyrie, the Gloria, the Credo the Pater Noster; a very quiet, reverent way the Pope said the Eucharistic Prayer, ‘Hoc est Enim Corpus Meam’, (This is m Body). At that point there was absolute silence around me, in the enormous crowd; the sign of peace, with strangers hugging each other and smiling; the crowd singing the Salve Regina at the end of the Mass.
As I said, I could write pages but will end with a prayer that many of us learned in school, the Morning Offering, which includes a prayer for the Pope.
O Jesus, through the most pure Heart of Mary, I offer Thee all the works, joys, prayers and sufferings of this day for all the intentions of Thy Sacred Heart, and particularly for the intentions of Our Holy Father, the Pope, Amen.