The Eternal City (Rome) Part 1
Papal Audience, Touring the city of Rome, and a sung 5pm Private Mass at the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Aracoeli, a Franciscan Church in the heart of Ancient Rome, Fr. Daniel presided. The choir sang the Introit (GR), O Nata Lux (Lauridsen), chanted Communion Antiphon (GR), The Lord is My Light (Hallock), Exsultate Justi (Viadana).
The thunder and lightening that evening was amazing and LOUD! The heavens opened up and it was certainly an experience. Our 6 a.m. wake-up call came nice and early. Today was the day for our “Papal Audience” (i.e., audience with the Pope), and seats are on a first-come-first-serve basis, hence the early activity.
About the “Papal Audience”: every Wednesday (assuming His Holiness is in town), groups of choirs come together in St. Peter’s Square, are announced in their respective language, and granted 40-45 seconds to sing in the presence of Holy Father, Benedict XVI. The weather has been rather uncooperative during the last few days, so the event was moved into an Papal Auditorium built in 1971, inside the Vatican. The Pope entered the auditorium and was greeted with loud cheering. The Holy Father greeted the attendees (approx. 5,000), prayed and extended his blessings to all. Each group was announced and had a few moments to make themselves known to the Pope Benedict who extended his personal greeting to them. The various choirs who were there from all over the world were given a chance to sing when they were announced. The choir sang, 45 seconds of Exsultate Justi (Viadana) and not only did the Pope enjoy our singing but actually clapped for us when we were done. (That didn’t happen to anyone else!) The ceremony was crowded and the Swiss Guards were everywhere- it was definitely a once in a lifetime experience! (Too bad he didn’t walk down the aisle and shake anyone’s hand….)
Afterwards we hopped on the bus and took more tours around the Eternal City. We drove around the ruins in Rome and even walked around some of them. We walked into the entrance of the Coliseum, saw Circus Maximus and the ancient Roman Forum and St Peter in Chains.
We arrived at Santa Maria degli Aracoeli and prepared for Mass. After Mass the choir had a free evening to themselves.