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Published: July 28th 2014
Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…the moment of truth. Before we left Father John gave us the priestly blessing of safe travel. We arrived and tried to get some recon at 5pm. The mass began at 10am Sunday. We determined they would close the square and got a good camping spot on Via del Conciliazione, which I kept confusing with colazione the Italian word for breakfast, after talking to three guards with three different stories. It started to rain as set up our camp and within a half an hour the police showed up and decided to shut down the street as well. They herded people who were already camping there before us out and they were not happy about it. Many traveled very far to get an opportunity to see the Pope canonized not one but two influential popes in the church. We salvaged a spot by the street entrance but the police steered person after person by us so we could not rest. Cars drove through the people and you couldn't even move to let them by. This Polish family was blocking this couple from moving through the crowd. So trying to see if they police were moving us again I cried out where
are you coming from. The guy screams at me in Italian that he just finished eating, is tired and wants to return to his apartment. I responded, “Oh” and convinced the Polish family to let them through. Afterwards the couple were most appreciative. It was crazy!
Around midnight they reopened the street and allowed us to return but the street was flooded with people quickly giving us a much worse position than in the start of the day. The police and security for the event were terrible as they let us move in parts closer to the Vatican but that meant you could never sit or sleep for long; if even at all for hour after hour. By 5am they were allegedly going to open the gates but by 6:45am we still were not moving as the square was being filled from other locations. This was very disheartening as we were sore, hungry, tired, exhausted, and thirsty. To give you an idea of how packed it was you could not even sit down. Things were so tight that we had to sing, “When the saints go marching in” to bypass a group of Maltese pilgrims to use
the bathroom, which was about ten porto-johns for approximately a million people. The event was truly mismanaged by the Romans, as many elderly and small children began fainting due to exhaustion and we devised a human telephone system to alert medics to the distress. That being said it was an experience of a lifetime just to be there.
I met some great people on the square. I was singing Polish with my man Syzmon and also made friends with a Neapolitan couple who seemed very nice. They apparently got closer to the square than we did to see their papa. Unfortunately for us we lost Ray during one of the rushes, as he sacrificed himself to be kind to an older lady then the crowd swallowed him up. The polish had an especially large devotion to their pope. I almost feel bad for John the XXIII as he got lost in the shuffle. They had set up TVs along the street to show people the mass if they did not reach the square. Louis, who had heroically hoisted the colors of Poland and Mexico on our flag pole all night, was in terrible pain. The man was a warrior to be there with his back in a brace from a injury he was recovering from. Jackie and I were exhausted and Ray was still missing. We determined we were too far out and would not make it in the square so we decided to take Count Enrico’s offer of the apartment up and headed to the office to recuperate. From there we had the benefit of still being right outside the square, but had space, a bathroom and food. I immediately collapse but was awakened around 9 by KofC drivers sent by the count to see if we were there. They blew us mattresses up and made us some breakfast. It was great a true show of compassion and hospitality for which I was very grateful. The mass in Latin was very moving. I hope it inspires the world. Afterwards we grabbed lunch with Father John who treated us for our heroics. Then we retired for a bit as we had mass at night and a first degree ceremony.
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