In November of 2006, my wife (Sarah) and I went on pilgrimage to Rome and Assisi. For my world traveler wife, it was just another day at the park, except of course, for the fact that she was bringing me who had been nowhere. Ever. Before we got married, I had been on a plane once in my life. Yes, just once.
I digress. Among the myriad of sites and not a few a churches to see in Rome, it was highly recommended to us that we to go on the Scavi Tour underneath St. Peter’s Basilica. This tour takes you to the necropolis below St. Peter’s and to what is reputed to be the Tomb of St. Peter. It is apparently more than a little difficult to get tickets for this tour. People often need to arrange their tour many months in advance given the very limited number of slots available each day.
When we arrived in Rome, at the first opportunity, Sarah and I went to the Scavi Office to inquire about tickets. Inside the office we spoke to Leo (name changed to protect the innocent… or guilty… depends on your perspective really). We shared how this was my first time to Rome and we “heard that this is where you go to get tickets for the Scavi tour.” As though it were that easy, right?
Dear Leo diligently typed away on his computer (much like the ticket agent from Meet the Parents), and after some time he let out a sigh and said “I have two slots only for you… 3:15 or 3:30 on Wednesday afternoon?” Sarah and I looked at each other, almost giddy at our good fortune. After a quick consult, we agreed on 3:00pm and for the next few days we enjoyed all that is Rome and waited excitedly for Wednesday afternoon.
Since we were with a pilgrimage group, and I was the music minister for the trip, I naturally was tasked with leading music for Mass each day. It soon became apparent that the Mass we were to celebrate on that Wednesday was up in the air in terms of where it would be. Initially it was to be nearby the Vatican early afternoon… then it was nearby late morning… finally it was across town… at 2:30pm! Ummmm, logistically difficult you can be sure.
Admittedly, we were more than a little bummed at how things were playing out. There was such a small chance that we would ever get tickets in the first place, and then to have them effectively taken away was discouraging. We prayed and we consoled each other that really and in truth, being able to go to Mass was worth more than seeing the tomb of St Peter. We offered it up for those in need and we went into the church were Mass was to be held. However, if everything went on time, there was a super slim chance that we could still make it.
Luck of lucks, Mass was late getting started. Almost 20 minutes late. I had let it go however and sang my heart out (I love the acoustics of those old churches!). During the communion mediation, one of the pilgrimage leaders approached me and indicated that we should get going so that we could make the tour. I told her that music was my responsibility, that I had to be true to the Mass here and now. If it was going to happen, it would happen in due and proper time.
After Mass was over, Sarah and I RAN to the taxi stand to try and catch a lift across Rome… at rush hour.
Stayed tuned, more to come…