I was there last wednesday, and waited the whole morning to see the Pope and hear, in lots of different languages, that we should all love each other as brothers and so… Love messages apart, it was a boring morning waiting for the Pope to appear. The session started at 10:30, but we had to get in Saint Peter square as early as 8:30 to get a place. They have some reservation tickets one should ask beforehand to be allowed in the main part, where there are chairs. The whole cerimony is a but clumsy, as the Pope arrives in his open car, drives arround the square while everybody cheers for him, gets behind the reserved place, always followed by the Swiss Guard and sits in the main “trone”. Then every minister of foreign churches present salute him in their own language, pointing to the people from their coundtry that are present. when mentioned, the people manifests their presence by singing, screaming, or any other disturbing noise they can make (people from Mexico where near us and never stopped to scream “Mexico… Mexico… Mexico”, and so on). It takes a long time for each church. Then the Pope reads the same message in their language and the process start all over again, with another church.
The cerimony ends by the Pope blessing all the present as long as objects of devotion people might have brought. It’s not a bad cerimony, but lots could be done to speed it up a little bit.
The afternoon compensate the morning we lost waiting for the Pope: we visited the Vatican museums and the Sistine Chapel. There are no proper words to speak of them. I found works of art as beautiful and as old as art itself. I took a picture of a first century sculpture of Aesculapion, the god of Medicine, that was particularly found of.
The down side is that they don’t let you take pictures of the Sistine Chapel. The truth about the Sistine Chapel is that I was waiting for more. It’s a dark room with all those marvelous paintings kept in the dark as if people would ruin them. I know people can be mean to art works, but what would Michelangelo say if their marvelous works were kept from the public? Anyway, the paitings in the ceiling and the Final Judgement (that is on the main wall) are true masterpieces and, even though I couldn’t see them in all their beauty, being there worth it.
Saint Peter basilica is also one of the things I wanted to see. I was in the square in front of the basilica during the morning, for the Pope cerimony, but I left the basilica itself to be seen in the evening to try to avoid the long lines that formed after the cerimony. It was a pity I got there without batteries in my camera, for the interior is wonderful. Just after the entrance, in a right niche, we found Pietà, Michelangelo’s sculpture masterpiece he completed while only 25 years old! It’s wonderful.
The Swiss Guard is also a pictoresque aspect of the Vatican. They look like being dressed as clowns, but they’re outfit were designed by Michelangelo himself, and is being used since the 1500s. Also there are a lot of requirements to join Pope’s personal guard: being swiss-born citizen, speak a lot of languages (the number vary, but I was told 5 is enough), having served in the swiss army are just the ones to begin with.