Wednesday started at 4:49am. We were going to the papal audience, but in order to get good seats, we had to be the first through security and therefore the first in line. The metro started running at 5:30, so we left the hotel by 5:15 to catch the first metro. We were all so excited! We got off at Termini to switch Metro Lines and we were all running down the escalator because the train was waiting at the bottom. We literally threw ourselves onto the metro because we didn’t think we were going to fit. But like true dedicated FUS students, we crammed even more of us onto the metro. I literally could not move. If I wanted to, I probably could have picked up my feet and not fallen onto the floor. In any case, when we got off at Ottaviano we took off running. We slowed to a fast walk but we made it to the line that was already forming and we were pretty close to the front.
After we got there at about 6:15, it kinda dawned on us that we had to wait for security to open up at 8:15. We were all standing in a huge group trying to make sure that other people didn’t infiltrate our group. There was this lady who was leaning against my back like I was a stone pillar. She just put her full weight on me and kept leaning. In any case, security opened up the outer gates and there was a mad dash to the metal detectors. There was so much pushing and shoving that my feet couldn’t keep up with my upper body because there were too many legs in front of me. The crowd basically just pushed me along. So then we stood there for a little while longer until we actually went through security. Then it was a mad dash to get the best seats. Franciscan got up right against the rail and a few rows back so we were in a good spot.
Everyone was so excited and we all just stood in our spot waiting and waiting. There was a Swiss guard in front of us that some of the girls took pictures with. Finally, at 10am, the pope came out in the pope mobile. Everyone was cheering and waving and clapping and waiting for him to come down our aisle. He turned the corner and drove down near our side. He was looking towards us when he drove past and then he stopped just past us to hold a baby. It was totally awesome!
Then he kept driving around and eventually everyone sat down for the audience. He gave his talk and then all these bishops translated it into different languages. It was pretty amazing.
After the audience, Rose, Hana, Shannon, and I walked around and they ended up buying shoes. I bought some scarves and then Shannon and I got gelato while Rose and Hana went into the Pantheon. Then we realized we needed to book it to make it to Mass on time so we practically ran to the metro while Shannon and I were eating gelato. We got on the metro and when we got off, Rose and Hana took off running to the Lateran while Shannon and I tried to find a bathroom. We came across and little pizzeria and the waiter let us use the bathroom. Then we ran across a few crazy busy streets (we still can’t believe we didn’t die in the process) and ran up to St. John Lateran for Mass.
When Mass was over, I was taking a few pictures and then I looked over and saw Rebecca walking towards me! I knew she was going to be there but it was still so shocking and exciting to actually see her in Rome! It’s something we’ve always talked about doing and the fact that it was actually happening was so awesome! Rebecca and Sara took Anne Maria, Maggie, Maura, me and Shannon to Santa Scala which is the church of the holy stairs where there are the stairs that Jesus walked up when he was led to Pontius Pilate. We didn’t go up the stairs, but we looked and then left to go to Santa Croce in Gerusalemme which is the chapel of the Passion Relics. We saw a thorn from the crown of thorns, a nail from the crucifixion, splinters of the true cross, the finger of Thomas that went in Jesus’s side, and part of the cross beam of the good thief. After we visited that chapel, Shannon and I said good bye to Rebecca and Sara and walked around the corner where we took off running so that we could make it back to Santa Scala to go up the stairs before it closed. It was about a 7 minute walk, but we ran most of the way and by the time we got there we were out of breath and sweating. We made it in and started ascending the stairs on our knees like the other pilgrims. There was only about 5 other people, so we could go at our own pace. We had a handout with prayers to be said on each of the twenty eight steps so we prayed those prayers and then left.
We went back to St. John Lateran to take pictures and then we went and saw the baptistery. Shannon and I decided to go out to dinner so we went back to the pizza place where we had used the bathroom and had pasta for dinner. We took the metro back to the hotel and packed up our stuff before heading to bed.