12 Jul2006


What does any practicing Catholic hope to do on a Sunday morning in Rome (actually, The Vatican)???… seek an audience with the new Pope, of course. How could we pass up the chance to show The Kid the impressive façade of St. Peter’s Basilica, hopefully get a glimpse of the Pope Benedict XVI (along with 10,000+ other groupies) and get a dozen rosaries blessed (our moms always said if you had the rosaries on you in the square while the Pope was blessing they were all officially “blessed”!) as pasalubongs for the faithful back home? Before the 11am (I think) appearance and blessing by the Pope, thousands of folks mill around St. Peter’s Square… We shopped rather frantically for rosaries…let me tell you, highway robbery prices at those official stores near the square!!! Cheaper if you buy from ambulant vendors who sell you rosewood rosaries on the fly but we had already stocked up… All I could think of the last time we were in the Vatican shops…“this must be the Saks Fifth Avenue of nuns and priests”…

At the appointed time, the windows of the private apartments to the right of the square (if you are facing the Basilica) were opened, a flag pope1or crest was lowered and the Pope appeared to the cheering and waving crowds below. A reception fit for a rock star, if you ask me. I must say that after his brief blessing, he continued to greet the crowd rather fluently in about 6-7 languages! This Pope has very good public relations instincts, I think. Or he has a good consultant…if you know who I mean! I wonder what it would be like to get up every Sunday, open up my window, look down and have 15,000 folks cheering…thank goodness they would be far enough so they wouldn’t see I had not even washed my face yet!

The Pope didn’t say anything about the impending premiere of that movie “The Da Vinci Code” which was scheduled in Rome for just a few days later…thank goodness pope3the movie sort of fizzled out on its own… I didn’t see the movie but I did like the book. A few days later, we returned to the Vatican to go through the museum and see the Sistine Chapel where my namesake is painted on the ceiling (this impressed The Kid). Frankly, I think the museum is a bit over the top and a bit overcrowded hall closet. They have so many incredible works of art but almost TOO MUCH considering the poverty and homelessness of so many Catholics around the world…but that’s my personal opinion. It is nevertheless amazing how many artists the church employed in its heyday of art acquisition and creation…and almost every part of the Vatican museums holds some stunning or impressive piece of sculpture, painting, fresco, etc. And oh, a food tip, of course – the food in the Vatican cafeteria in the basement, while absolutely institutional, is very reasonably priced. Grab a salad and bulk pasta dish there instead of the restaurants just outside the Vatican where you will almost certainly be fleeced.



  1. manila streetwalker says:

    How come I had the same feeling of religous commerce in another holy Catholic shrine that visited some time ago- Fatima, Portugal, going through those stores felt like stepping into a Catholic Walmart! ;o)

    Jul 12, 2006 | 1:57 pm


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  3. gonzo says:

    The Vatican, the world’s oldest multinational company. i am pretty sure if jesus christ came back down today, he wouldn’t be hanging out in with the Church hierarchy in Rome in all its red carpet splendour. he’d be in the favelas of brazil, the slums of tondo and payatas, and with the suffering in africa and so on.

    That’s right, these days, religion is Big business, and any religious rank and file refusing to tow the Vatican line better shape up or face excommunication.

    Jul 12, 2006 | 6:11 pm

  4. sister says:

    Is the Coca-cola machine still right outside the Sistine Chapel?
    What did Coke do to have it placed there (saw it in 2001) just when you feel like fainting from the long corridors to get to this highly overrated, no ventilation wonder?

    Jul 13, 2006 | 12:12 am

  5. Marketman says:

    No coke machine that I can recall…the cafeteria in the basement has been redone so you head there for faint-prevention sustenance… many long corridors now have their windows open to reduce feeling of claustrophobia and to air out the centuries old busts and nudes, many of which have had fig leaves added at a later date from their original manufacture…

    Jul 13, 2006 | 6:06 am

  6. MasPinaSarap says:

    Those pictures absolutely beautiful, MM. The art and relics there are amazing.
    One of the nicest gifts I received was a small wooden shield that opens up to a gold embossesed picture of Christ and on the other the Madonna with Infant, blessed by Pope John Paul II; a present from my Confirmation teacher.

    Everyone: If I may say. These are stunning pictures of a landmark treasured by 1.8 billion people, and it would be considerate if you left them at that, personal feelings aside. This isn’t a medium for religious trash-talk.

    Thank You

    Jul 13, 2006 | 9:01 am

  7. Marketman says:

    MasPinasarap, I absolutely agree that this is not meant to be a post on religion but on a visit to the The Vatican and observtions thereof. It is by no means meant to encourage trash talk, but neither do I find the observations of other commenters that the Vatican and other church destinations seem incredibly commercialized out of place as it is palinly obvious to a visitor to the sites… at any rate, perhaps the more accurate number for global Catholics is about 1.1-1.2 billion according to Catholic News website, while varying estimates for the second largest religion are also about 1.1-1.2 billion. But I think this is one area where numbers can be a misleading indicator as so many folks who profess to be one religion or another are often not actively practicing…purely religious questions are best left to another forum… thanks.

    Jul 13, 2006 | 11:15 am

  8. MasPinaSarap says:

    Yes, that’s true, I agree, practicing Catholics is a whole ‘nother number. South America having the bulk of the numbers. I suppose China is the only place with unconfirmed information these days, due to the religious suppression and Vatican limitations there. With that, the numbers are a bit skewed, and the underground church with allegiance to the Vatican reaches 8 million. Interesting stuff!
    One thing’s for sure, I’m praying for those affected by Florita.

    Jul 14, 2006 | 1:15 pm

  9. izang says:

    no matter where you are, religion does make money….it is a fact….it is in history…..that’s how those “priceless” art got there….

    and yes, it is best left to another forum……

    i wouldn’t bother though…..your blog is the only site i check every day….after checking my e-mails….then during lunch…..during petiks-time (harharhar)….then before i go home after work…..

    my day is just not complete without reading your blog and the comments…

    Jul 15, 2006 | 12:54 pm


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