Trip to Italy 2017: Vatican City – Papal Audience

On every Wednesday, the Pope holds a general audience in St. Peter’s Square for pilgrims from all over the world. Attendance is entirely free of charge, but you need to reserve tickets to the occasion.  For more information, visit this website: http://www.papalaudience.org.

For tickets, I contacted the Santa Susanna American Community in Rome in advance, and was advised to arrive at St. Peter’s Square three hours earlier. So I got there around 7:00AM, and was met by a long queue:

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After taking seats and waiting idly for two hours or so, I heard beautiful organ from somewhere and a wide applause as Pope Francis appeared.

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Actually, this wasn’t the first time I saw Francis Pope. I first saw him at  2014 Asian Youth Day in South Korea. After three years, I was delighted to see him again in same good health.

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This is the best shot of Pope Francis I took on that day, and currently the background photo of my Samsung Galaxy Note. He always wears a merciful smile in every good picture I take.

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We heard a passage from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Romans and Pope Francis’ catechesis on faith and hope from the story of Abraham and his wife Sarah who miraculously had their son above the age of 90.

For full text, visit this page.

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After the address, we watched the Pope greeting with special guests. If you arrive early and successfully took a seat in the front, this could be a good chance to see him closely.

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These are some of the pictures I took of the eye-catching Swiss Guards.

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After a long wait to see his face again from the groups of special guests, we managed to wave goodbye as he exited from St. Peter’s Square.

For religious tourists, no visit to the Vatican is complete without seeing the Pope. The Papal Audience was the peak of my visit to the Vatican, which brought me spiritually closer to the holy site and sparked my wish to come back for further events. As we retreated from St. Peter’s Square, I silently thanked God for the gift of the day and prayed for another chance to come back again.

Trip to Italy 2017: Rome – Colosseum

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Colosseo (Colosseum) was truly ‘colossal.’ Once arrived, I stood dumbfounded by the grandeur of this famous landmark.  I didn’t expect it to be this big!

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I was humbled by the cross that must have been erected in commemoration of Christian martyrs who perished here about a thousand years ago.  This is the first thing you’ll see as soon as you enter the monument.

Now widely regarded as the centre of Catholicism, Rome is a religious city with so many historic churches and Christian heritages everywhere. At the same time, you will also see the legacies of paganism that gave rise to the city way before Christianity. Colosseo is a symbol of pre-Christian Rome, and this gigantic cross reminded me of the countless deaths and perseverance during the historic change from one faith to another.  Think of the stories from Quo Vadios, Ben Hur, and the Acts from the New Testaments!

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Once inside, no single shot could contain the entire venue, and no word could express my thrill of standing in this symbolic monument.  How could have this ancient stony structure lasted for so long?

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I wished I could have walked along the corridors that had been trodden by gladiators.

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What was it like to stand at the centre of a historic city throughout a millennium? With Colosseo at its heart, Rome feels like a transcendent and timeless city where antiquity and modernity are still breathing alive together.