Monday, January 17, 2011

Rome: Midnight Mass

Going home for the holidays was never part of my plan; I left for Europe fully prepared to be away for the full eight months. My original plan was to spend Christmas with Kristen in Norway. When that fell through due to Kristen's boyfriend buying her a ticket to Toronto for the holidays, I made plans to go to Rome.

Rome was very un-Christmassy. There were way fewer Christmas decorations than I would have expected, especially having walked down Paris' Champs Élysées the week before. There there were some Christmas lights strung in the narrow streets, and the nativity scene and Santa's sleigh and Christmas tree set up in Piazza Venezia before the monument to Vitorrio Emanuele II. The climate was also not what I consider to be Christmastime weather. I have been calling Rome my first "tropical getaway" as in the daytime it hovered around a balmy 10°C (as compared to hovering around 0°C in SaintÉ), and perhaps even reached 15 or 17°C on December 23. Rome's un-Christmassiness made my first Christmas away from home much easier; often we would just forget it was Christmastime.

As I was in Rome over Christmas, my pilgrimage to Saint Peter's Square for midnight mass was thus somewhat incidental; having been brought up Catholic, I couldn't very well not take this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to go to midnight mass at the Vatican.

It had poured rain all day Christmas Eve, which was especially disheartening as that was the day we had tickets to visit the Coliseum, Palatino, and Roman Forum. Because of the downpour, we weren't sure we would be able to attend midnight mass. But the rain finally stopped mid-evening and we set out for Saint Peter's Square.

Saint Peter's Square was so amazing! As soon as I arrived, I was instantly imbued with happiness.

Before leaving for Rome, I had read online that one needed to arrive early because thousands of people flock to Saint Peter's Square for the mass. We arrived shortly after 9 o'clock for the 10 o'clock mass and there were surprisingly few people there. Even by the time mass started, the square could not be considered crowded. Emily and I speculated that the rain deterred a lot of people from coming.

To be in Saint Peter's Square for midnight mass was such a moving experience, and exactly how I wanted to celebrate Christmas in Rome.


Unknown said...

Your photos are beautiful!

Vanessa said...

Thanks! There will be more on facebook once I'm done blogging about Rome.