Day 2 in Rome - Feb 5
The weather continues to grace us with low 60s F (mid-teens C.) and the sun shines in a cloudless sky. We head out early and wander St. Pete's Square a while before going to the German Pilgrimage office to get some information and our tickets for Wednesday's Papal audience. We could have skipped the stop. The person running the place is sick and secretary (or ?) doesn't seem to have been briefed on anything that is happening. We leave to continue our search in greener pastures.
A view of St. Pete's.
We are trying to find out how we get our Testamoniums from the Vatican. Like the Compostella one gets in Santiago to acknowledge that you have walked at least 100 kilometers to Santiago, the Testamonium says you have done likewise to Rome. We stop next in a place calling itself the Roman Office of Pigrimage. It turns out to be a combination pilgrim information center and travel agency for conducted (like, bus) pilgrimages. The man behind the counter says, "Here is where you get your Testamonium." He (also the only one in this office) takes our data and rounds up a couple Testamoniums, signs them and gives them to us. Petra peppers him with questions about walking pilgrimages. He seems to be short on detailed information about the ins and outs of what happens with foot pilgrims. It turns out he is not alone. We leave still with several unanswered questions and thinking this testamonium is a bit less than the real thing.
Petra's Testamonium from the Roman Office of Pigrimage. Click picture to enlarge.
We go back to St. Pete's and visit the tombs of the Popes. Stopping at the place above St. Peter's grave we say prayers for all who have helped us on this 64-day odyssey and also give thanks for our good fortunes. On the way out, Petra disappears into a little office on the side of a courtyard. She comes out saying we have to go to the Sacristy to get a Vatican stamp in our pilgrim's passport. We go back into the church. An American priest tells us the Sacristy is up front beside the Treasury. We walk to the left front side and through a huge opening towards the Treasury. Along the way a rope blocks off a hall. We ask and are told the Sacristy is beyond the rope. Someone takes us there. We go in and ask for a stamp and say we are foot pilgrims. As a guard stamps our passports someone says, "Don Bruno." We have heard of him. His name came up time and again on Pilgrims' web pages. Yes, he is the official welcome and source of our testamonii (the correct Latin plural).
Someone takes us farther into the building and down an elevator. We get out in another huge hall and are taken to yet another big door. Did I say everything is big in St. Peter's? A man is coming out the door, Don Bruno. He greets us warmly, takes us to a table in a room nearby and begs us to wait while he delivers some papers he has under his arm. Don Bruno is indeed in charge of welcoming foot Pilgrims. We have found him by accident. Or did the Universe lead us to him. When he returns we talk about our pilgrimage and pilgrimage in general for three quarters of an hour as he records our information and makes two official Vatican Testamonii for us. Then he takes us into the church and down to the altar above St. Peter's grave. After he reads from the First letter of Peter and we say the Our Father together, he gives us the Testamonii and then takes us to that same little office Petra stepped into earlier in the courtyard, The Office of Excavations. His quick words sidestep at least four weeks of red tape usually needed to get to tour the excavations under St Peter's. We go Wednesday.
We enjoyed our visit with Don Bruno. We appreciate that he took an hour out of his day to welcome us. We leave excited that we have both our Vatican Testamonii and our official Vatican stamps in our pilgrims' passports. Thanks, Don Bruno.
My Testamonium from the Vatican. Now we have the real thing. Click picture to enlarge.
We take our Testamoniums to our rooms for safe keeping and then head out to wander the city a bit. Along the way we spot a nearby Indian restaurant and talk a while with the owners. Looks like a good place to eat. We walk across the Tiber and head toward the Pantheon.
Bernini's elephant and Obelisk outside S. Maria Sobre Minerva.
We are headed for St. Mary's Over Minerva (S. Maria sobre Minerva). We saw St. Catherine's head in Siena. We want to see her body here in St. Mary's. No luck, she is in a closed casket below the main altar. Like St. Peter's, St. Mary's is also filled with artwork including a Michelangelo statue of Christ. I touched that stone so that I can know that I have touched the same stone that Michelangelo once touched. St. Mary's is built over the ruins of three Roman temples, Minerva, Isis, and Sarapis. In the square in front of the church an impressive Bernini statue of an elephant holding the smallest obelisk in Rome. The statue commemorates Minerva's attributes of wisdom and knowledge.
We returned to the Indian restaurant for a fine dinner in the evening.
Another good restaurant, the Kohinoor.
Rome 4 Feb Contents Rome 6 Feb
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