Update: so.....impressions of The Vatican - big, old, extravagant, beautiful, busy, extreme, when you consider the numbers of people begging around Rome. That's not to say the church doesn't help and I'm not sure how the church can help given that what's at the Vatican is years old and it's not like anything can be sold off to give money to the poor. But it did ring some bells for me and I did feel uncomfortable. When we arrived it started to rain, and just as we were about to enter into the visitors space, there was an almighty clap of thunder! Coincidence? The Sistine Chapel was amazingly beautiful with the paintings of Michelangelo
but I did not feel the presence of God there
. Despite signs requesting silence, the whisper of so many people took away any hope for reflection and contemplation - and despite security sending several "silence" messages, the noise levels continued to rise until the next "silence" message. However, being there is something I won't forget. We had some free time and an opportunity to have lunch before moving on to the Colosseum; another place of confrontation, where one of the sports used to be killing Christians on the "main stage". Left me wondering again about our influence as Christians to make our world a better, " just"place to live in, where we show love and mercy to all races. Onto the Pantheon - a place that today is exactly as it was during Roman times. The Pantheon was built in memory of King Agrippa - one of the men Paul gave account to in Acts. King Agrippa is long forgotten, but Paul's influence goes on, though some of treachery of people like him still exists today. I think the most amazing thing for me during our time in Rome has been seeing and hearing names / events from the Bible. Seeing trees planted by Julius Caesar that are alive and well today, seeing the place of his execution, not biblical but seeing the area where the chariots used to race, looking at roman ruins that are being discovered all the time. Finally back to the hotel at 4.30 with a 2 hour break before heading out again for our final dinner. The break for us was quite stressful, with Paul realising when we got back to the hotel, that his passport and phone had been pick pocketed sometime in the afternoon
. A taxi trip to the nearest police station (that in itself was interesting with the police station fortified!), police report and follow up with the Australian Consulate by email ensured that no rest was had. Through the wonders of Facebook, Rachel communicated to us that she did not appreciate the heavily accented Italian phone call at 1am Australian time, leaving a message that she could not understand at a place she could not understand! To cut a long story short, by midnight last night, with the help of Rachel, Mary G, the tour director and receptionist at the hotel - and prayers of many - we are now on the flight to Finland, passport in hand! We appreciated the compassion, support and offer of financial assistance from other travellers on our trip.
No time to write today, except to say we were at Vatican City at 7.45 this morning, have been at the Colosseum and the Pantheon - a very full day. Will up date this entry tomorrow.