An Italian-American living la dolce vita in the Deep South

An Italian-American living la dolce vita in the Deep South

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Do you have a Pope story to share?

I have this thing about crying when I see the Pope. My husband teases me for this, but in my defense I tell him it's genetic because my Nonna always cried when she saw the Pope, and so do my mother and sister for that matter.

When my boys asked why I get so moved, I shared with them some pope stories ...

  • When we were living in Italy, one morning all the church bells in the city began ringing simultaneously, and considering that in Italy there is a church on almost every street corner, that was a lot of bells. The sound was both beautiful and haunting, but we soon learned that the bells were signaling the death of Pope John Paul I. I'll never forget the sound of all those church bells, and the shock that our newly elected Pope was gone.

  • Before leaving Italy to return to live in the U.S., my Nonna took my mom, my sister, and me on a trip to Rome. On that trip I saw the Sistine Chapel for the first time, and we also attended a general audience in St. Peter's Square with Pope John Paul II. The moment he appeared the heat, the crowds, and my disgruntled teen moodiness evaporated in the pure joy of the moment. Pure joy . . . there is no other way to put it.

  • When I returned to Rome last May, I was able to see the exact spot in St. Peter's Square where John Paul II was shot in 1981. I also visited his tomb, which was as humble and simple as the man himself.

The exact place in St. Peter's Square where John Paul II was shot.

  • On that same trip, we visited St. Peter's Square late, late at night. There was complete and total silence . . . and the lights from Pope Benedict's apartments were still on. Standing there in the empty square, we felt a prevailing sense of peace. Our seminarian friend, who had given my friend and me a personal tour of the Basilica earlier that day, mentioned that sometimes when the weather is clear you can actually hear the Pope playing the piano late at night. I didn't hear any music that night, but I had no problem imagining it.

Do you have any Pope stories to share? Hold on a second while I run and grab a box of tissues.


Lisa said...

This are wonderful rememberances, Bia. How wonderful that you have actual memories from Rome! My earliest memory was of my Dad explaining the significance of the different colored smoke coming from the vatican at the time that Pope John Paul I was elected ~ and then the disbelief that he could be gone so quickly.

Soutenus said...

One of my earliest memories of any Pope was the picture of Pope John XXIII on the wall of myMary's kitchen. She was like a grandmother to me -- born and raised in Italy. She (obviously) kept that picture up long after he died and added the newer Popes, too. But Blessed John XXIII looked down on us as we ate, visited, cleaned up and played -- for many years.

Another memory: When Pope John Paul II died I was working a dance competition. No one stopped for even a moment. I escaped outside as soon as I could, knelt down and fervently prayed - it was the true beginning of my KNOWING I had to leave that world.
Praise God for His help on all our journeys. Pope John Paul II's day of glory (painfully but clearly) wrenched open a door for me.

GrandmaK said...

My Papal story...Marianne my youngest was born two days before Pope John Paul II election. I was in the hospital watching the smoke come from the chapel and feeding my daughter at the same time...For me it is a treasure!!! Cathy

Corrine said...

Those are wonderful memories.

j.a.varela said...

Excellent post Bia. I will come back.