An early morning wake up gave many of the pilgrims time to shop for religious items before the papal audience. After shopping and going through security we waited patiently in Saint Peter's Square for the Holy Father to appear. We were welcomed in many languages, and each group in attendance was mentioned including the Diocese of Greensburg.
There was so much excitement as Pope Francis entered the square riding in the popemobile. Thousands of people from all around the world expressed their joy in seeing him as he rode by. He stopped right in front of us to kiss a baby and the crowd loved it! He made his way to the front of the audience, and shared a beautiful message of hope with everyone. Then he blessed us all, asking the Lord to watch over us, as well as family members at home, and grant us good health. This blessing included any items that we had with us. Following the audience, we had a delicious lunch together at La Venerina Restaurant near the Vatican, and everyone shared their excitement from the morning.
We walked back to our hotel and prepared to travel to the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Wall. We were greeted by Deacon Dan Carr, a seminarian of the diocese studying at the Pontifical North American College in Rome. Mass was celebrated under the beautiful gold mosaic ceiling depicting Jesus with Saint Peter, Saint Andrew, Saint Paul and Saint Luke. Bishop Malesic presided, and Deacon Carr proclaimed the gospel and gave a wonderful reflection on Saint Paul. After the reflection, Bishop Malesic invited all pilgrim couples celebrating significant anniversaries to renew their wedding vows together.
After Mass we were given a guided tour of the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Wall. The tour also included the Cloister, the Pinacoteca and the archeological area of the Basilica. We continued our evening with a panoramic tour of ancient Rome. We drove by the Roman Forum, the Coliseum, and the Circus Maximus while our guide explained some of the history.
We arrived back at our hotel for dinner, and Bishop Malesic introduced six Benedictines from Saint Vincent Seminary who are working or teaching in Rome.
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