Santo Subito! (We Were Really There and I Can Barely Believe It!)

We did it!  We really really did it and I can hardly believe it.
You're not going to see any top of the line, professional photos here as we were too busy not getting trampled but I'm certain there are hundreds of other places you can see those.  This is just our little story   of taking part in an incredible day for our Church and an unforgettable day for our family.  I looked at Brian today and said, "we're kind of adventurous people, aren't we?"

We ended up, no joke, taking all of us to one of the vigils the night before that started at 9 p.m. with our things packed in case we decided to sleep out to try to get in to the canonization.  We still had no set plan.

One of the many spots of pilgrims singing, praying, praising, sleeping, and having tons of fun with people from all over the world that we passed on our way there.  There were thousands of people already camped out by 8 p.m.

We went to what was supposed to be the vigil for English speakers and it ended up being mostly in Italian, and I hate to say it, but kind of lame.  We left early.  David was already asleep in the stroller and slept pretty much the rest of the night...until 3:30 or so when our night ended.  After seeing how many people were already out and how late it already was anyway, we decided to go for it.

In what is probably the worst picture posted anywhere ever in the history of posted photographs you can see that we really did sleep out by a park bench on a gravel sidewalk like a little hobo family.  We set up around 11 or so and "slept" until about 3:30.  I think I got an hour or two.  The kids were such troopers.  The carabinieri opened up the entrance to Via del Conciliazione then and we could hear people moving so we started, too.

It was i-n-s-a-n-e.  We wanted to see if there was any chance of getting through and it was one of those crazy scary situations where once you start going, there was no going back.  It was a tidal wave of people and it got pretty scary at a couple of points with the kids.  We got about 3/4 up the street when things got so congested that we had to call the police over to get us out before one of our kids was hurt. So we ended up going back to about half way up the street and staking our little spot there.  We probably could've gotten that spot without the whole sleeping out thing but we're not going to think about that now, are we?  All part of the adventure, she tells herself.

And here we were!  Our view...not the best but really, no complaints.  We weren't sure we'd even be able to be a part of the Mass at all so this was just great.  

It was pretty amazing.  Flags and people from everywhere.  People in traditional dress from Africa and South America and Asia.  Songs and celebrating all over.  The Body of Christ universal in epic display.  We met people around us from Poland, Lebanon, Italy, Brazil, and Texas.

Looking behind.  It was like this for miles.

So we could sort of see...this is the camera all the way zoomed in :)  John Paul spent much of the Mass teetered on top of the stroller holding the binoculars.  But at least the speakers were great and the giant screens were in partial view.

We had about three hours to kill before Mass began with four kids in a six foot square space that was consistently shrinking but they miraculously did okay.

I don't even know how he's smiling.  At this point I was ready to keel over and wondering why the heck we ever thought this was a good idea.  All I could think about was coffee, sleep, and a bathroom.

But he had a flag...I'm so glad I remembered to bring them!  So fun walking down the street and people asking you where you're from and feeling all bondy with your home country peeps.

I pretty much just want to burn that blanket and pillow now.

That's the cheese face.  From both of them.

Mass began.  I love that they handed out books to everyone so it was very easy to participate.  When we saw Pope Emeritus Benedict come out and the cheers went up and the tears started streaming, it made the entire craziness worth it.

And then the official proclamation of their sainthood.  The cheers.  The chills.  
I wish every one of you could have been there.  But I was thinking about you and did take all of your intentions with me through the night and all through the Mass.

A few minutes into Mass I set Luke down with some food.  I looked over not even two minutes later and this.  He slept through the whole rest of Mass in what I'm sure will be proclaimed St. John Paul's third miracle.  We had to guard him pretty fiercely from being stepped on.

Both David and Michael also took quick but much-needed naps during as well.

It started to sprinkle for a minute and everyone got very dramatic with the ponchos and umbrellas.  It was kind of funny.  But I was very very grateful it didn't start raining hard.  

We were able to receive Communion which was actually a big deal since you don't always make it up in time at things like this.  The priest had a hard time believing Michael was old enough to receive even though I was right there saying "Si!"  I heard him say something about being "piccolo."  I was afraid he would turn him away but he didn't, thankfully! 

And almost immediately after the final blessing, the sun came out for just a little bit and this kid was hamming it up with his flag.

We waited around for a good bit for Pope Francis to come down the street in the popemobile but after waiting a long while and seeing that he was still shaking hands with dignitaries and important people and such, we decided it was time to go.

I had to resist the urge to clean up all the newspapers people were sitting on.  I didn't really get that.  People kept offering them to us but I don't really see how newspaper is any cleaner than the stone curb.

I'm just now realizing that I didn't even get a picture of our John Paul at the canonization!  How could I forget that??

He was awesome.  He barely slept and yet he was (mostly) all smiles all day long.  When we were back at the apartment afterwards, we were shocked that he was still standing and cheerful but he was so happy and excited for this special day.  Every time we say Saint John Paul, he looks so beautiful and happy.  We celebrated Divine Mercy Sunday and the canonization of both a Polish pope and an Italian pope with an Italian meal of spaghetti that Brian put together. (Red and white, get it?  Very convenient stretch?)  Tomorrow I think when we have some sleep and the city is a little less congested we'll go out to celebrate such a special day for our little man as well as our last full day in Roma.

I'm still having a hard time believing that we were actually here and got to celebrate such an important day.  None of our five children, these amazing beautiful souls that I desperately love, would exist without the words and teachings of our beloved John Paul II.  I cannot wait to meet him in heaven one day to thank him and chat his ear off about all the things I've wanted to for years.  What an indescribable blessing to be able to share this day as a family and as a Church.

(And thank you, thank you, thank you for your prayers.  I could feel them.)


  1. MARRRRRRRRRRRRY- You did it :) Thank you so much for doing it, for sharing your story, and for letting me picture it in such a profound way. You guys are literally the most adventurous people I know. as I have said, I have been in those crowds. CRAZY. simple crazy! But I love it. You are an awesome mom, brian is an awesome dad and your family is an inspiration.

  2. Mary, your family here in OBX is rejoicing with you!!! We all just finished ready your blog and are speechless, teary-eyed and over-joyed for you!!! You & Brian are so brave, inspiring and crazzzzyy !! You did it !! You accomplished everything you set out to - you must be beyond disbelief!! But you know what, we believed in you guys and in our God who could never deny this faithful, beautiful, sincere little American family their hearts' desires. We are so happy for you, love you all and can't wait to hug you and hear about every detail in person!

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  4. I second Mary W.'s comments. And your prayers for us are being felt, too. The twin preemies are doing great - so much so that Joseph came home yesterday and Patrick is coming home today!!!!! Their grandma said thank you. Love to all and now you can get some good sleep with sweet dreams. Enjoy your last hours of your great journey.


  5. I can't wait to see the canonization Mass on TV this evening - EWTN is re-airing it for us here in the States. YOU GUYS ARE SOOOOOO BLESSED TO BE ABLE TO BE THERE FOR THIS WONDERFUL, AMAZING EVENT IN THE LIFE OF OUR CHURCH!!!!!!! I can't imagine HOW you both did it with the kids - it would be hard enough as adults to navigate all that on such little sleep and in "less than comfy" conditions... But then again, I did such things in my "younger years", but BEFORE kids! THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH for giving us just a glimpse of all your amazing travels in Italy here on your blog!!!! It's been so wonderful to read all your adventures and "soak it in" just a bit as if we all were right there with you all! Enjoy your last day in Roma tomorrow and SAFE TRAVELS HOME!!!! PS - I HOPE you found that bathroom!!!! It must've been a challenge with the kids and bathrooms with such crowds?!?!?!?!?? I can't imagine.....!! :) Blessings, Krista

  6. Arghh lost my comment! I am beyond thrilled that you made it and persevered in what is undoubtably an amazing and unforgettable experience for your family. I just met up with an old childhood friend who has fully embraced the secular mindset of the world - overpopulation etc and has a complete lack of joy and happiness. It was such a sharp contrast to the joy I saw in your post here. What a gift we have in our faith - I am forever grateful to God for leading me to His Church! Thank you for keeping us in your intentions. Praying for a safe trip home for you all!

  7. So amazing, Mary!!! God is so very good!

  8. Oh, and when I heard that PAPA BENEDETTO was con-celebrating the Mass I was overjoyed!!!! I MISS HIM SO MUCH!! He is/was an amazing pope and theologian and man! HOW COOL THAT YOU GOT TO SEE HIM, albeit from a distance!!!! GOD IS GOOD!!!!!!!

    So, will the boys officially be learning Italian now?!?!?!?!?!?!?!? If so, we need to Skype our kids to "practice their Italian" with each other! :) My daughter is eight, so they'd probably have all sorts of things to talk about! :) Blessings, Krista

  9. If you see pictures of the crowds it is indeed a miracle that none of your kids were hurt!! I could almost feel the Holy Spirit thru the TV as they showed all of the pilgrims. According to EWTN and Raymond Arroyo they had a report from the police in Rome, they counted 800,000 people WOW! so happy you received communion.

  10. What a wonderful journey your family has been through there! I've very much enjoyed reading your posts. I hope your travels home are safe and happy and you all can catch up on the much needed rest! Thank you for sharing!

  11. You have made my week! I've loved reading your updates. It made me feel like I was getting an insider perspective. Thank you so much for sharing the entire trip with us. Many prayers for a safe trip home and an easy transition into normality,

  12. That is amazing! YOU ALL are amazing!!!

  13. wow, oh wow, oh wow!!!! so loved 'being there' with you:){{}}

  14. Amazing Mary. Amazing. And Little Luke sleeping on the ground?! So adorable.

  15.!!!! You did it! What holy and courageous troopers you ALL are! God is SO GOOD!

  16. I am so glad you were able to be there! Love love love the photos.


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