Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Friday 1996

Some day I should get a photo scanner and scan in some of my cool older pictures.

In 1996, I was studying abroad in Rome, and I went with a friend to the Stations of the Cross service.  I'm not Catholic (actually, Episcopalian, so we have the same Good Friday service), but my friend was, and she really thought it would be cool to go to the service.  The Pope (John Paul II at the time) did the service at places around Rome.  He would process to one place, read that station, process to the next, etc., near the Colliseum (Colosseo), near the Arch of Constantine, and into the forums, ending up overlooking it all from the Palatine Hill.  The service was broadcast over loudspeakers so you could hear all of the stations.  I think the only way to see them all would be on TV or to be in the procession (which was about 12 people total, the Pope, some people I assumed to be acolytes, some priests, someone carrying the cross, and about 2 civilians). 

Since we were in college and there were no classes in Italy that day, we headed out to the Arch of Constantine early in the day and figured out roughly where the procession would go.

We got a spot right up front and we just hung out all day, laying on the grass, talking, watching the world go by, you know, all those great college ways of wasting a day other than sleeping or drinking. 

Eventually, late in the afternoon, the crowd was growing and we were happy to be up front.

When it started getting dark, someone walked the route and was laying out round metal disks with numbers on them, each about the size of a dinner plate. 

We were amazed to see #6 not too far from where we were standing -- maybe 5 car lengths away.  We couldn't read the plate, but one of us went down to check it out. 

We were hoping that would mean Station 6 would happen right there. 

More time passed, and eventually, it was clear that the service would begin soon.  There was a crowd at least 10 deep behind us.  I remember particularly some nasty old Italian guy who kept pressing up too close against us.  We kept our hands on our hips so our pokey elbows would keep him back. 

As an aside, during our study abroad experience, the young women in our program were the victims of a surprising number of skeevy things committed by old Italian men.  Groping and worse (but nothing like rape). 

Anyway, at some point shortly before the service, someone else walked the route, picked up #6 and moved it ...

directly in front of us!

And sure enough, station 6 stopped right in front of us, and a priest read out the Sixth Station.

For non-Christians (or if not all Christian denominations have this service), this is it:

Veronica wipes the face of Jesus
"Lord, when did we see you hungry, and feed you; or thirsty, and give you drink ? And when did we see you a stranger, and take you in; or naked, and clothe you? Or when did we see you sick, or in prison, and come to you?" And answering the king will say to them, "Amen, I say to you, as long as you did it for one of these, the least of my brethren, you did It for me."

It ended up being one of the coolest experiences of my life.  Standing about 10 feet away from the Pope, framed by the Arch of Constantine behind him, listening to a beautiful service.

I always remember that day today. 

1 comment:

  1. What an amazing memory that you have of this day. I loved reading this post! You're a fantastic storyteller!!