Friday, June 02, 2006


Estimates vary. Tomorrow evening there should be anything between 100,000 and 250,000 people heading towards St. Peter’s Square. Tomorrow evening’s Vigil for Pentecost will last for four hours and, judging by the programme that I have received as one of the two commentators in English for Vatican Radio and Vatican Television, it’s going to be a very beautiful, prayerful event. I just hope that the weather will be rather warmer and brighter…and dryer… than today’s has been because a prayer vigil in a downpour is not an encouraging prospect.

This morning there was a gathering of a different type altogether. Italy has been celebrating its foundation as a republic. There was a big military display past the Forum and the Coliseum. An air force fly past of a fighter jet display team was high enough to be easily seen from my office window. The planes trailed smoke in orange and green in a most impressive manner, but then I’d already had the very real pleasure of watching the practice flights over Rome, flights where approximately ten planes soared, circled, dived and performed other complicated movements with exquisite symmetry and coordination. Less than perfect timing would have meant the difference between life and death.

…but back to the military display this morning. There were massive preparations underway for several days, with big trucks offloading tents, scaffolding and seating for thousands of bystanders. The end result was precise and artistic. Italy excels at organizing big events with a unique artistic panache. Probably no other nation on earth has quite the same ability.
Yet, it seems to me, that if thousands can gather to display military might, isn’t it rather more remarkable to know that tens of thousands will have travelled the world to show their commitment in faith?

God bless,
Sr. Janet