Saturday, 15 March 2014

Visiting the Vatican

 I have been sitting here this afternoon, surfing the internet, wasting the best part of a precious Saturday, whilst trying to recover from playing three sets of tennis this morning with a trio of twenty-something young fellows and being reminded, forcefully by my body that I am nearly 44 years of age!

 As I launch myself skywards, swinging my racket like a medieval knight would wield a broadsword, straining myself, forgetting that ambition and ability sometimes get mixed up, I remember, aided by creaking joints and roaring muscles that I am not an athletic 25 year old anymore!

  My tennis game is developing a little although the diminishing physical ability which comes with ever creeping age must be holding back improvement a little. It would help if I was fitter. I certainly couldn't play singles tennis as my feet won't move to where I want them to go quickly enough nowadays and I prefer to let the ball go rather than haring after it as I would have done in days long gone.

 Now I am tired and the joints that connect my legs to my pelvis seem to be having a hard time reconciling themselves to the fact they have been asked to perform above and beyond that which would be considered reasonable for a fellow my age.

 So, I have been stuck in my chair most of the afternoon save for a brief interlude where I managed to catch twenty minutes sleep. I would have preferred more as Linda and I are going out for dinner with friends this evening and then venturing on to Bruce Stadium to watch the Brumbies play and I imagine the weight of performance from this morning's athletic overload will be starting to tell on me by bed time tonight.

 So, I figured, what better thing is there to do on a dull Saturday afternoon while waiting for the clock to count down than to write a completely pointless entry on my Blog!?

 As you can see I have included a photo of the day at the top of the page and as I thought many of the other pictures I have presented in this forum have had a strong English feel to them, something different should be the order of the day today.

 Linda and I are pictured inside Vatican City, that little sovereign state which is home to the Pope and is the beating heart of the Catholic Church, the faith which I was born into.

 The Vatican is the only country which closes down at five o'clock in the evening which is reasonable as it is situated right in the heart of that bustling, crazy city which is Rome.

The first picture is taken outside of St Peter's Basilica just before we entered that magnificent place of worship and the picture to my left is the balcony where the new Pope when he is elected greets the adoring faithful and is situated above where Linda and I are standing in the first shot. Exciting hey!?

 The Basilica itself is nothing short of magnificent and a would need to be poet to do it's richness justice.

 It is huge inside with many grim faced and gruff security guards milling in and around the tourist hordes ensuring we obey the very forceful directive we have received upon entry which has instructed us not to talk.

 Of course having many Americans, Canadians and bogan Australians in our tour group meant it came to pass that it was virtually impossible for such a conglomerate of people to shut up so every now and again a goon in a flash suit would come and have a word with one of our party and, in terms which can only be described as unfriendly, instructed them to shut up!

 It is impossible in such a place to keep the milling crowds completely quiet and there is a perpetual hum in the ear as the hordes from around the world marvel at the riches the Catholic Church display in the Basilica.

 The embalmed bodies of many Popes are entombed in glass inside St Peters, not really my cup of tea and a little ghoulish for my taste but that sort of thing was done and accepted in days gone by and there is obviously no public backlash against it. The tomb of John Paul II is not accessible to the public.

 One thing which crossed my mind as I wandered the vast capsule of the church and ventured into it's nooks and crannies, trying to avoid the perilous stares of security men watching closely in case I tried to desecrate some monument, is how uncomfortable their coverage is. It's not smothering, it's just many swarthy, Armani suited fellows wandering through the crowd yet they are distinctly unpleasant chaps and it hardly displays the goodwill which the Catholic Church so desperately needs in this time of diminishing faith.

 One thing which those inclined to criticise the church may find unappealing is how the display of riches at St Peters contrasts to the many beggars on the surrounding streets whom the priests and workers of the Vatican sneer at and ignore. Not a very Christian attitude and one I struggle to comprehend and validate when I have grown up being taught the values of the Catholic Church.

 The last picture I have displayed is for anyone who may have wondered just what is under the dome of St Peter's Basilica. Here it is! Taken from the floor of the church looking up into the dome it is obviously a magnificent piece of engineering, adorned with artwork and frescoes and this is only a small portion of a very large complex.

 I would love to have a picture of the Sistine Chapel to show you but unfortunately no photos were allowed and in any case, trying to free one's arms from the sardine like crush inside the Chapel where the Pontiff is elected would be near impossible given the ridiculous amount of people allowed to enter at one time. It sort of takes the gloss off what should be a special moment. No matter. I can at least say I have seen it.

 I hope you have enjoyed these few pictures of one of the most famous and revered places on our planet and forgive me my whinging at the stretches and strains I am enduring after my tennis match this morning.

 Wherever you are this weekend, whatever you are doing, I hope you are having a grand time and taking care of yourself.

 Ciao for now.

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