In the past several months since I started planning my Bionic Nerd Epic Trip: International Edition, myriad changes to the itinerary have taken place. Here’s the most recent version, which is still, as always, tentative.
Depart Wednesday, 9 April 2014, fly Charleston CHS – Charlotte CLT – Rome FCO.
Arrive Thursday, 10 April 2014. Stay one night near the sea in Lido di Ostia.
Friday, 11 April 2014, head into Rome, get settled at the little camping village where I’ll be staying in a “bungalow” (think trailer). Hey, it was available for two weeks, it’s cheap, and it’s walking distance to a train station so it’s convenient to get into Rome on all but the earliest of mornings.
Saturday, 26 April 2014, I’ll check out of the camping village and check into a hostel which is about a 20 minute walk from St. Peter’s. It’s unlikely that I’ll be there overnight, as I believe I will be queued to get into the Sunday 10am Mass starting from around 4pm on Saturday.
Sunday, 27 April 2014, John Paul II’s canonization Mass. Assuming I can get in or even anywhere near St. Peter’s, which to be honest isn’t a good chance, I’ll head back to the hostel afterwards to either collapse and sleep for a bit, or to collect my things and be on my way. I’ll spend Sunday night and Monday night in a traditional hotel near the airport.
Tuesday, 29 April 2014, fly Rome FCO – Vienna VIE. I get in around 10:30am, and once I get from the airport into the city, I should have a good 10+ hours to explore a bit. My ham radio friend Tomas OK4BX, who lives in Czech Republic, may drive down to have lunch and Sacher Torte with me. Hopefully our schedules work out so that we can meet. I’ll catch the last train from the city to the airport around 11pm, and I’ll sleep in the airport.
Wednesday, 30 April 2014, fly Vienna VIE – Frankfurt FRA – Charlotte CLT – Charleston CHS. Eugene will pick me up and take me home, where I will promptly fall asleep and not get up for a week. :-)
I heard back from the office at the Vatican which arranges tours of the underground necropolis, where St. Peter is buried. They allow only approximately 100 people per day in, in small groups which are divided up by language. The chance of any one person who speaks English to get in is slim. I have been confirmed for a tour on Thursday, 24 April.
This morning the US Bishops’ Office in Rome, which handles US visitors ticket requests, contacted me about the general audiences and the Holy Week schedule. They are requesting a ticket for me on each of the two Wednesdays I’ll be there: April 16 and 23 for the usual Wednesday general audience with the Pope. The official schedule hasn’t been released yet, but assuming he holds audiences those days, I should be able to get in.
Palm Sunday Mass, 13 April 2014, is outdoors in St. Peter’s Square. The US Bishops’ Visitors Office has requested a ticket for me.
Holy Thursday, 17 April 2014, Chrism Mass is inside St. Peter’s Basilica. See my comments below for Masses and Services inside St. Peter’s. The Holy Thursday Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper is not on the tentative schedule for events at St. Peter’s. This is in line with how Pope Francis celebrated Holy Thursday last year, ministering to youth in prison. I expect he’ll choose a different location this year but that it will similarly be a smaller and private event.
Good Friday, 18 April 2014, Celebration of the Passion of Our Lord is inside St. Peter’s Basilica. See below. The Stations of the Cross are again tentatively scheduled to be held at the Colosseum. No tickets are required. This will allow me to experience my first cab ride in Rome, as it will get out so late that my train back to my camping village will have already stopped running.
Holy Saturday, 19 April 2014, Easter Vigil Papal Mass is inside St. Peter’. See below.
Easter Sunday, 20 April 2014, Easter Sunday Mass is in St. Peter’s Square. A ticket has been requested for me by the US Bishops’ Visitors Office. After Mass, Pope Francis will give his Urbi et Orbi blessing.
Easter Monday, 21 April 2014, Pope Francis will give another blessing in St. Peter’s Square at noon to anybody who wishes to attend. No tickets are required for this event.
Easter Thursday, 24 April 2014, tour of underground St. Peter’s.
Divine Mercy Sunday, 27 April 2014, the Canonizations of Blesseds Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II. This will be outside in St. Peter’s Square. There are no tickets. There will not be chairs. For John Paul II’s beatification a few years ago, people started queueing at 4pm the day before. I expect it will be worse this time.
Tickets for events inside St. Peter’s Basilica: According to the US Bishops’ Visitors Office in Rome, tickets for all Holy Week events inside St. Peter’s are (understandably) very limited. I am to have my priest or bishop write a letter on my behalf requesting these tickets, along with a reason why I want them, and submit it to them no later than a week from today. My parish office is closed today due to an ice storm, so I’ll try to get there tomorrow to start this process.
Assuming for now that I can get into all the events inside St. Peter’s that I want to, that still leaves me to find a place to attend Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper. If you’ve been to Rome and have a suggestion, let me know. I could go to one of the other Papal Basilicas (San Giovanni in Laterano, St. Paul’s Outside the Walls, or St. Mary Major), or I could find a smaller church.
If we’ve already discussed my taking along a rosary that you own to have blessed by Pope Francis, please have that to me by March 9. I want to get them packed up first so that I have a few more weeks to figure out how I’m going to pack all of my own things. I’m trying to pack very lightly and just take one carry-on size wheeled suitcase and one backpack. The rosaries look like they’re going to take about half of the backpack.
And if you have any suggestions for what to not miss in ten hours in Vienna, I’d love to hear about it.
73 de NR4CB, Connie