Sunday, March 12, 2006

Monday Afternoon in Vatican City (Feb. 27th)

When we returned, Amy and Joseph (after he changed into dry socks and good shoes) set off for the grocery store. The rest of us napped for bit. At 2:30 we set out for Amy's appointment with the crew of Rome Reports for the taping of several segments dealing with what else--The Da Vinci Code. Rome Reports works out of RAIan Italian Television and Radio network which it turns out as a strict anti-children policy meaning no children can enter their building. This presented a problem because we had presumed that Katie could accompany Amy and take care of the baby and Joseph in the background while Amy was shooting. But because it was raining the outside shooting was pretty much out of the question and because they were going to do an in studio shot the kids could not come in.
So we left Amy and ventured toward the St. Ann's Gate where we waited to meet with my appointment with Father Laurence Spiteri who works with the Vatican Legal Office and is an accomplished author. Let me give a plug for several of Father's books here:

The Code in the Hands of the Laity: Canon Law for Everyone

And a book he translated:

The Virgin Mary and the Priesthood

Father Laurence had graciously squeezed in a meeting with me, since he was leaving Rome for a trip in a day and also said it would be no problem to bring the children along with me.

Father was a gracious host, he took us into Vatican City and pointed out various structures (where the Swiss Guard baracks were, their chapel, etc.) and then into the Apostolic Palace (where the Pope lives), here we found a meeting place and had a very informative meeting while Joseph scribbled on official Vatican forms and Katie entertained the baby. Father did have to scold Katie once when she allowed the baby Michael to play with the Vatican phone. After our meeting Father took us out to the Swiss Guard station at the base of the stair case leading up to the Apostolic Palace (those remembering the death of John Paul II last April will remember his body being carried down these stairs on the way to St. Peter's where he would lie in state for the days before his funeral). The Swiss Guard spoke to Joseph who was impressed to meet a real soldier.

It was still raining outside, so Father offered to drive us back to the apartment and we accepted his offer. We waited in a building that seemed to have tight security, I've been unable to locate the name of it of any map online or anywhere else for that matter--but the entrants had to enter an almost Star Trek like chamber to enter the building--very cool!

Father picked us up and gave us a drive through tour of Vatican City, telling us that it had a grocery store, hospital, post office and everything that any country would have. We then drove into an area that was within a building and clearly was built for horse and carriage traffic, not cars (so traffic was one way and controled by a traffic light as well as a Swiss Guard)...this was the entrance that would be used by a Head of State when visiting with the Pope, it took us up to the Apostolic Palace and then down again behind St. Peter's. Father pointed out the Goverment palace where the Vatican is run (all of the temporal affairs of the little country), the Vatican gardens, observatory, etc. Then past St. Martha's where Father lived before the last conclave when he had to vacate for the Cardinals gathering for the election of Benedict XVI, then past Paul VI Hall where papal audiences are held in bad weather, and then out into the street.

All very impressive, and we were deeply grateful for the behind the scenes view. Unfortunately I didn't have my camera with me.

Father let us off at Borgo Vitorio and wished us well!

Early evening had now arrived and after a dinner of lasagna that Amy had picked up at the market, I headed out to check on my email at a local internet cafe. On my way, just a block from our apartment I heard a familiar voice. There standing in the middle of the Borgo Pio was a fellow student of Crieghton University from some fifteen years ago, Father Bernard O'Connor (see his article in the latest Inside the Vatican). He was talking to another priest, visiting from California. I hailed him and we made arrangements to meet for dinner on Ash Wednesday at a restaurant he pointed out right there that was his favorite.

Making my way to the internet cafe, I received the sad news that Amy's father had been hospitalized. He is out of the hospital now, but still recuperating and could use your prayers for a quick healing of some broken ribs.

Evening came, the third day.