Today we began with mass at the Pontifical North American College, or NAC, where fellow Diocese of Cheyenne seminarian Bob Rodgers attends seminary. The NAC is a college operated by the bishops of North America to give American seminarians the opportunity to study in the heart of the Church. The NAC is not technically in the Vatican like I thought, but is an "Extraterritorial Vatican Property" as I found out today. In any case, it has an excellent view of St. Peter's dome from the roof. Here is a picture of the chapel and the view from the roof.
After mass at the NAC, we attended the Holy Father's weekly Angelus. The Angelus is a short prayer that commemorates Mary's "yes" and Christ's Incarnation, and the Pope also gives a short reflection on the Sunday's readings, blesses those present, and greets pilgrims. Today he talked about the importance of conscience and how conscience comes from listening to God and not from just doing what I want. He cited Pope Benedict as an example of a man who followed his conscience. It was beautiful to see how much the Italians especially have come to love Pope Francis. Here is the window as we wait for the Pope, and then just after he appears. What a holy presence!
There is a spot on either side of the St. Peter's square where the curving columns, which are four rows deep, all disappear behind the first row, because they are aligned just perfectly. Take a step forwards or backwards and the additional rows reappear, but stand right here and you can't tell there are four rows. How did they build this in the 17th century?
Then we started the "Heart of Rome" tour, described in a guidebook we had. We saw various fountains, plazas, churches, and markets, and we enjoyed the wine, coffee, food and street performers on the way. This tour really made me feel like I was in Rome. What a great day!
Some street performers:
The Church of St. Agnes:
The Trevi Fountain at night:
Apparently it's good luck to throw a coin over your shoulder into the fountain...
And the Spanish Steps, the last sight on this self-guided tour.