Our view of the Pope
Chianti Countryside
Good Friday with the Pope
We decide to fight the crowds and catch a glimpse of Pope Benedict XVI firsthand. After all, how many people get to
see the pope up close and personal? And presiding over a traditional Good Friday ritual on top of that? Well, saying
we saw the pope "up close and personal" is kind of a stretch, but we did find a spot overlooking the stage where
the ceremony would take place. We arrived about an hour ahead of the publicized start time, after a very
traditional Good Friday meal of pizza. The people were already out en masse and the area around the stage looked
like Lollapalooza back in the day. In fact, I'd say that 95% of the people were there to "sightsee" like us, and
maybe 5% were there out of religious conviction. To illustrate the point, a group of teenage girls walked up and
stood right behind us. Because everyone was packed in so tight, and because they were teenage girls, we could
hear every word of their conversation. They were just coming to this area to see the Colosseum at night, and
happened to see this big crowd. They asked everyone within a five foot range of them what was going on. A very
nice and patient woman to my right explained that the pope was leading a procession from the Colosseum to
Palatine Hill. That was as far as she got. When the three girls heard the word "pope" they let out eardrum splitting
shrieks. I'm sure dogs all over Rome flinched. "Oh my god-we're going to see the pope! I can't believe we're going
to see the pope!" They then proceeded to call their moms, make a short movie (who thought creating cell phones
with film capabilities was a good idea?) and proclaim how jealous all of their friends were going to be. I'm not
certain, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say these gals weren't there out of religious conviction! The best
part-after about 45 minutes of waiting, when the pope still had not appeared, they decided to go get ice cream and
a coffee instead!
We ended up extending our time in Rome by two nights. There is so much to see and do! One of the benefits of
staying a few extra days is that we will now be in Rome on Good Friday when Pope Benedicit XVI leads a
procession from the Colosseum to Palatine Hill to hold a ceremony honoring the 14 points of the cross. This is a
devotional service depicting the final hours of Jesus' life.
The pope did finally make his appearance, but unfortunately our
view was blocked by several large news cameras. We stayed
strong though, thinking that the pope might move around a bit,
as we could see other parts of the stage perfectly well. I think we
made it to about the 11th station of the cross (keep in mind that
the service was being delivered in Latin and Italian, so it was
hard for us to be sure). When our camera battery finally pooped
out, we decided that seeing the pope make his way from the
Colosseum, through a crowd of people, and up to the stage most
definitely counted as "seeing the pope". We packed up our stuff,
gave our spots to the people who had been crammed up behind
us for the last three hours, and headed for home. We walked
maybe 15 yards from where we had been standing and happend
to look back over our shoulder. Much to our emabarassment,
there was the pope in perfect sight. We could have enjoyed this
view for the past two hours had we only moved down a few
yards. Not to mention that this area was much less crowded than
where we had been standing. This actually made us feel better,
as it meant we were not the only ones who didn't think of
checking out another vantage point.

So there you have it-we did see the pope "up close and
personal".  Along with thousand and thousands of others.