Gigantic pillars rose up in front of us. We walked down the hill and turned the corner. What was this? Someone was asleep on the doorway of a shop. We let him sleep. Then the great square and dome came into view. It was early morning, and we hurried across St Peter’s square.
We had come for Mass inside the basilica. Past the obelisk, past the fountain, past security, and inside we went. It had been quiet outside, but here was a different sort of quiet; only footsteps and the echo of footsteps.
We made for the left side, the priest and I, following the signs to the sacristy. All the priests’ vestments are kept there. First we saw a small army of well-trained altar boys scurrying about. And what was this? A long line of white, and not red, for it was the feast of St Ignatius, the martyr. These priests were waiting, waiting for vestments, red vestments.
I haven’t counted, but I’d say there are 15, maybe 20 altars where priests can say mass in St Peter’s. They were all in use. So were the vestments. And we were in line there with 20 other priests, waiting for the next red-clad figure to return.
Not just priests at that. Italian priests, a Brazilian priest, and here a group of priests from Poland with two bishops, and there an American priest, and then came an Italian archbishop, and a Mexican priest. Too many priests! We’ll just have to wait. And that means I’ll miss my first class at the university.
45 minutes later we processed out, and one of the guards pointed us to a free altar. It was the altar of the Sacred Heart. We had a beautiful mass there in the heart of the Church. As we finished, I realized that my first class had already started. Well, that’s ok, there were just too many priests..
And then I woke up this morning and thought, “Too many priests?” “You knucklehead!” “What a blessing!”
If only we always had too many priests!
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