The flight from DFW to JFK was full and over weight, after 45 min of shuffling things around they requested two stand by people to disembark and finally we departed! I was a nervous wreck that we would not make it to JFK in time. The plane only held 76 people, I expected a much larger plane for this flight. Once at JFK I learned the flight find the flight to Rome was also delayed so all was good. Fellow pilgrim's began to arrive and we introduced ourselves and visited. Lino (Host of the Catholic Guy show on Sirius/XM) introduced him self and headed off to the sky club till it was time to board. Lucky dog.
The eight hour flight from to JFK to Rome was smooth but I was not able to sleep a wink! This lack of sleep turned my Friday and Saturday in to one very long day! Our late departure put us in to Rome several hours late but we finally landed in Italy, I thought this day would never come. The good part about the late arrival was we were able to check in to our rooms and drop of our luggage and rest a few minutes prior to starting the days activities.
Our hotel is located up the hill from the Vatican. Hotel Alimandi is a family operated hotel, they are treating us very well. After a few minutes of rest we headed off for our first tour, The Scavi Tour which is a tour of the Vatican necropolis ( a burial ground that is not above ground). This tour must be planned in advance as few spots exist for enterance. This is the site of where Saint Peter was buried. At the end we passed an area where they have the remains of Saint Peter. Above the burial ground is Saint Peters Basilica. The necropolis very hot and humid BUT very worth it. Sunday we will see the Pope so we had a few hours to shop foe items we may want blessed. Dinner was a group adventure this evening and was delicious. The meal consisted of Pasta with cheese orange sauce, yum, a stuffed fried olive,OMG!! And roast chicken and potatoes. Finally to bed!
Even though I set the alarm for 8:30pm my roomie and I made it to breakfast on the hotel roof prior to our departure for the day activities. The coffee was wonderful, tomorrow I hope to be up early enough for cappuccino. After I scarfed down scrambled eggs with sauté mushrooms and this wonderful sliced chicken with tomatoes and olives we hopped on the bus and headed to Castel Gandolfo the Pope's summer village to attend the Noon Angelus. This was more than I could have ever expected! We were so close, you could see the warmth in his eyes. The crowd was excited and joyful. the spontaneous singing echoed in the court yard and was so beautiful. The feelings I had at that moment were indescribable!
My roomie and I "won" lunch with Lino and crew. Lino ordered lunch for us and it was good. We had this wonderful rice ball (I forget the Italian name) with cheese in the middle and fried, we also had Pizza. Lino had gnocchi, he even let us all have a bite. After lunch we headed back to Rome and the San Callisto Catacombs. We were lucky enough to get the Italian nazi tour guide! The fun began in a small building the guides use to explain what we were about to see. Appears at one time the building we were in was a church, Father Rob had the nerve to say something and the guide informed him this was a church and he should show reverence and be quite. Mind you Father Rob did have his Collar on! This was the beginning of the end for Father Rob and the tourist guide. There are over 40 catacombs in Rome, this one had an estimated half a million Christians buried in it some being Popes. The sepulchres, now empty, once contained the remains of 9 Popes and of 8 Bishops of the 3rd century.
the last room we viewed Father Rob was looking up at the ceiling and the tour guide stopped and yelled "Father, I am the tour guide you are to look at me when I speak" OMG she lost the crowd, it was so hard to keep focused, to be respectful of the burial site and not just start laughing at Father Robs surprised reaction to this call out. Father Rob asked if he was not allowed to look around and she said "NO I am the guide, the speaker and it is respectful to look at me when I speak!" When were out of the catacombs she asked where we were from and when she found out we were Catholic she went "momma Mia" and kept her hand covering her mouth till we boarded our bus! What bad Catholics are we! LOL
Our day ended with Mass at Saint Paul Outside the Walls. We BYOP (brought our own priest) and was able to use one of the beautiful chapels at the Basilica.
During the 4th century, Paul's remains were moved into a sarcophagus, except for the head, which according to church tradition rests at the Lateran. Paul's tomb is below a marble tombstone in the Basilica's crypt, at 1.37 metres (4.5 ft) below the altar. The mosaics works here are breath taking. The perception and depth are truly amazing.
Evening free time groups went separate ways some dinner others world cup and yes finally bed!