Vatican City, Rome, May 7, 2014

We were taking a cruise on the Azamara Quest from Rome to Barcelona.  Flew to Rome on May 5th, arriving on the 6th.  Planning in advance, we got tickets for an audience with Pope Francis.  Up at 6 am on the 7th in order to get on our way to Vatican City for our audience with the Pope.  The excitement was palpable.  Like being at a rock concert.  The crowd was, as we expected, enormous.  Pushing and shoving; all trying to get as close as possible.  We arrived at St. Peter’s around 7:15 am to find a long line waiting for the gates to open.  When they did people started running for seats.  Just like running with the bulls in Spain.  We were just swept up among the masses.  Actually found good seats, near a rail and in front of some nice old ladies from Abruzzi.

There were people from all over.  They came in groups from France, Germany, Italy, Canada, the USA, China, etc.  And all the groups had on distinctive hats.  In the picture above you can see blue, red and lime
green hats.  And those are but a miniscule number.  They came by the thousands.  When JoAnn suggested we attend the audience if we could get tickets I thought we would be in a small group of maybe 100.  Well, when you consider that there are over a billion catholics in the world, I guess JoAnn and me and 40,000 of “our closest friends” is a small group.  And yet we were close enough at one point to shake Pope Francis’ hand.

As he turned the corner and began the trip down the aisle nearest us I began taking pictures; shooting as rapidly as my camera would allow.  At the same time, the Vatican has cameras everywhere taking videos of the occasion.  A search of the video of our audience revealed a brief glimpse of my hand and JoAnn as she reached out to give the Pope our Zuccetto.
A Zuccetto is the small, yarmulke type cap that he wears.  We heard that if someone offers him a Zuccetto during his audiences that he may take it and put it on, following which he either gives his in return or gives back the offered cap.  No such luck for us; as he passed JoAnn, who is in the pink jacket reaching out with the cap, he was looking the other way.  This photo is from the Vatican video.
Following the audience we made our way back to our B&B to check out and head for the San Pietro train station for our ride to Civitavecchia.  Boarded the Azamara Quest around 2 pm.  Our cabin, 6050 is ideally situated in the middle of the ship.  And, we were off.

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