Today I woke up on cloud 9!! I was finally going to see the Vatican and get to see where the Pope lives, breathes, and prays. My whole life my family and I had always talked about what visiting the Vatican would be like and today I get to turn that dream into a reality. Today began with an early wake-up call so we could start our journey to the Vatican. Our hotel was a little far from the Vatican so on our way we made stops and looked at all Rome had to offer. We visited the Spanish Steps, Trevi fountain, little neighborhoods throughout Rome, and finally, we were in Vatican City. We had lunch near the Vatican, and of course, I chose to have more pizza (I wonder when I will get sick of pizza). I was missing a taste of home so I ordered a side of French Fries;) don’t know if pizza and fries go together but in my mind, they make for a great pairing.
After lunch, we headed toward the Vatican entrance. We had to stand in line for a little, even though Kirk tried to cut the line for us. But after 30 minutes of waiting, we headed through the doors of the Vatican. The Vatican was probably the most crowded place we have been to on the trip. There were people everywhere pushing to try to see the best view around. As we entered one of the main hallways my jaw dropped. It was absolutely beautiful. The hallways were lined with amazing artwork and huge windows that let the natural lighting in. Looking through the window almost didn’t look real. I tried to capture a photo, but it honestly looks fake. It was so hard to capture the beauty of the Vatican in one photo. The long beautiful hallways led us to the Sistine Chapel. I knew the Sistine Chapel was going to be amazing, but I was even more blown away by how beautiful each painting in the Sistine Chapel was. The ceiling was incredible and I just tried to picture Michangelo painting each one of these magnificent paintings. Even though the guards in the Chapel said no photos I had to sneak a couple of selfies with the ceiling. The room was extremely crowded and they push everyone to the middle so it is a little hard to try to enjoy the artwork when you have hundreds of people crammed into room elbowing each other. However, I tried to take a moment and appreciate where I was because it is something I have always dreamed and thought about.
After the craziness of the Sistine Chapel my excitement grew even more because we were heading to St. Peter’s Basilica where St. Peter is buried beneath the high altar. The Basilica is huge and you feel like you are more in a palace than a church. It definitely makes my church back home feel very small. I could not believe that I was standing in the place where the Pope celebrates mass and many Catholics gather to celebrate the Eucharist together. On Christmas Eve my family and I always watch the midnight mass at St. Peter’s led by the Pope. This year I can’t wait to watch and know that I was standing in that church. As I made my way to the high alter I tried to take a picture of it, but the natural light was so bright that I couldn’t capture it. I thought this was really cool because the power of the natural light-shielded the altar, it was almost as if God was coming through with the light. I was in complete awe of what was around me and will appreciate that moment forever.
Before I left the Vatican I had to make my way to the gift shop and buy rosaries for my family. That was my mom’s one request for the trip, bring back rosaries for the family. The sweetest nuns worked inside the gift shop and I ended up making my favorite purchase of the trip. A small pendant necklace with my favorite Saint, St. Jude. St. Jude is the patron saint of desperate and lost causes and has been my favorite Saint since I was a little girl. It was a very special moment buying a St. Jude necklace from the Vatican. While in the gift shop the nuns told us about how we could see the Pope. Pope Francis greets the crowds on Wednesday mornings and anyone is welcome to come to see him. I knew at that moment I had to go see the Pope. It was a once in a lifetime chance to be able to see the Pope with my own two eyes so a group of us decided to set our alarms for 5 am to see the Pope. I knew I would be tired, but would not regret it.
That night we were all pretty tired from our long day, but we ended up having the best dinner of the trip. We were served pasta, chicken, and tiramisu. I had the best time chatting and laughing with my new friends from the trip and couldn’t believe that tomorrow would be the last day.