What an exciting day August 10th was for us! It was time to hopefully get our new marriage blessed by the pope! For months, we had been praying about this day, hoping that we would get the chance!
And so, we rose at 4:30 AM!
We began the exciting journey of going to see the pope at his summer residence! The sun had not yet fully risen, and Rome was still asleep, except for a few singing birds and newly opened newspaper stands.
We took the metro to the train station, where we ate a breakfast of cappuccino (as all Italians do, except that the beverage is one-quarter the size we have here in the U.S.), freshly squeezed orange juice, and a croissant with Nutella.
The train was not crowded and contained very friendly people! A priest that was leading a bunch of pilgrims from the Pro Sanctity Movement of Omaha, Nebraska sat with us an introduced himself! He was very excited to learn that we were on our honeymoon.
Little did we realize, the Holy Spirit would plan it that, on a subsequent day, we would meet other members of this group and later be invited to join them on the most tender of tours of the Vatican, the Scavi Tour, where we got to see the bones of St. Peter!
We knew that each Wednesday morning, the Holy Father gives his general audience address to the faithful. Michael and I had heard that, if you bring along proof of having gotten married within no more than 4 weeks (and if you wear your wedding attire) you might get a preferential standing spot with other newlyweds to receive a special blessing from the pope.
Because it was the month of August, though, Pope Benedict XVI would not be giving his address from the balcony at the Vatican. Instead, we would have to go to his summer residence at Castel Gandolfo, which is about a 30-minute train ride outside of Rome.
So here's Michael, all dressed up and about to board the train!
|Here we are at the lake near the Holy Father's summer residence. I couldn't pack my entire wedding gown, so I just wore a small, simple dress.|
|We got to stand in the FRONT ROW to await the Holy Father!|
|We were soooo joyful! Our view of the Holy Father would be unobstructed!|
|And here he comes!! I screamed so loudly when I first saw him!|
|This photo is proof that we were in the presence of the Holy Father!|
|Look how close we were! We were standing right behind this last cardinal. Had the Holy Father kept walking, we would have been the next hands he shook! But instead, he looked at us, smiled, and waved. He truly made eye contact with Michael and me!|
|And here he is walking back now. A few days later, while walking around Vatican City, the pope's right hand man (a cardinal) would recognize us and smile at us!|
|The Holy Father waves good-bye!|
|And the Swiss Guard protects him! Did you know that to be a member of this Swiss Guard, a man must be under 25 years of age, demonstrate wonderful virtue, and be a virgin? How beautiful that VIRTUE is a determining trait of the rank!|
|We were so happy to be blessed by the Holy Father! We also have a special hand-scripted certificate on parchment, explaining that our marriage has been blessed by Pope Benedict XVI. We can't wait to frame it!|
|Here we are with the other newlyweds! Isn't it funny how the Italian brides look more American than I do? I would have loved to have worn my wedding gown again, but we just didn't have the room to pack it in our suitcase!|