on July 1, 2004
It’s hard to believe you’re walking into a whole different country as you enter into Vatican City – with the Pope as the ruler. Ironically enough, however, St. Peter’s church is not the highest church in Catholicism, nor is it the Popes’ church, though he does live there.
St. Peter was martyred here, or so the story goes, hung on a cross upside down so that he wouldn’t die in the same way as his master and teacher. When the Pope is asked if the bones within the church are those of St. Peter, his response is “definitely maybe.” Can’t argue with that now, can you?
We waited in what seemed to be a very, very long line – but it only turned out to be about a 25 minute wait. Entrance into the church is free, but when you go, make sure that you’re dressed properly. They will pull you out of line if your shoulders are not covered or if your knees are not covered (I noticed they made some exceptions for small children, I think it’s more a matter of modesty) and you’ll stand in line first and waste your time. You’ll also have to go through a security checkpoint (how sad that you must do this to enter a sacred place) though I noticed that the guards were doing more talking and smoking than watching the screens on the scanners. If you so choose, you can stand in another line to go up into the dome. I stood in that line for a half hour and still couldn’t see the end of the line, so gave up and got out of line.
Inside the church, you can see the Holy Doors, only opened in Holy Years, Michelangelo’s Pieta (a sculpture of Mary holding a crucified Jesus, surrounded by glass thanks to some crappy person who tried to destroy it back in the 70s), the statue of St. Peter, who’s toe is rubbed by the touch of pilgrims (yes, I stood in the line to touch the toes, too) and the Baldacchino – otherwise known as God’s four-poster bed that stands above the supposed tomb of St. Peter.
While not Catholic myself, I could appreciate the religious significance as a Christian. I’m glad I took the time to go to Vatican City and see St. Peter’s. I highly recommend this as an activity while in Rome.
Basilica open 7a.m.-7p.m. daily, the dome from 8 a.m. – 5:45 p.m. The Pope holds an audience in the plaza on Wednesdays at 10 a.m.
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