I met the crew in the hotel lobby to catch the airport shuttle.
We reviewed the Rome itinerary one final time on the way to the airport.
We arrived about thirty minutes ahead of the group. Those who didn’t check luggage, flew through customs.
I was great to finally meet those I’d become so close to over the last few months.
We hopped one the bus and arrived at the hotel just before noon.
I had drinks and panini arranged for the arrival and went over a few details about the next two days.
- Rome was going to be crazy.
- They needed to shop now if they wanted anything blessed by the pope.
- We had no idea what to expect with the beatification line wanted to leave at 3:45 am. That would get us in live at 4:00 am, same time I arrived for JPII’s funeral.
Lino took a group of Rome newbies to St. Peter’s to try and get in. They were closed.
I took a group shopping. The shops along Borgo Pio had 15 – 20 minute lines. Ridiculous! I picked up a ton of prayer cards and rosaries and got out.
The group all met back up at the hotel for a 3:00 PM departure.
We started at Saint Paul Outside the Walls. I’ve never seen it so packed. Then we headed across town to Saint John Lateran, again, packed! We passed the Colosseum before ending at Saint Mary Major.
The bus dropped us at the Spanish Steps and we walked to the Trevi, Pantheon, Piazza Navona, and then to dinner at Polese.
Father Dave Dwyer joined us, and to some extent, so did Thomas Peters.
Two hours later and our group of 31 had put away 27 bottles of wine. I should note that four people did not drink. Then it was off to bed since we had to be up by 4 AM.
We strolled back to the hotel.
Along the way I realized that all of Poland was already in line and, after speaking with security, found out that only one entrance would be used.
A small group decided they came for the beatification, they were getting to the beatification.
We got to the hotel at midnight, and started calling all the rooms of those who had left dinner early. An hour later, the entire group, minus three, were headed to camp out in line. It was insane. It was late. We were tired. Some were still a bit tipsy. But, we did what we had to do…