Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas Eve in Rome

The streets were very quiet as I walked to Santa Maria in Aracoeli. I have never seen or heard the Center so quiet at night. It was eerie.

Only Sloppy Sams and The Drunkin Ship were open in Campo de Fiori, I guess for those who had to get their shots on.

The mass was packed. (Random sighting, “Law and Order” actor Sam Waterson. Maybe he lives here. He recently narrated a series on Ancient Rome.)

I though mass would start at 11.00 and end at midnight, like the churches back in my hometown but no, mass started at midnight. I was so tired. Ha

This was the first Catholic mass I have attended since I went to St. Monica’s (in Santa Monica, CA) for an Easter mass with a friend 10 years ago. I understood very little and there was no program.

The church is beautiful. It is the church of the Senate and the Roman people. I’ve climbed the 124 marble steps to the church before but this was the first time I’ve been inside. The church was built on the site of the ancient temple to Juno.

After the service, the Santo Bambino (baby Jesus) is moved from the altar to the manger. The church had a wooden one from the 15th century that was carved from a tree in the garden of Gethsemane. It was stolen in 1994. Who the heck steals something like that and what did they do with it? I think it would be hard to sell.

There is a saying in Italian, “Christmas with your family, Easter with whomever you want.”

When the mass ended at 1:30 suddenly the streets were full of cars and there were families everywhere. It was so surreal.

It was a very moving evening.

A photo of the Christmas tree at the top of the Capitoline Hill. I wanted to take a photo of the incredible manger scene but there were too many people standing in front of it.

The front of Santa Maria in Aracoeli.

Once the mass started there was more light but I thought it might be bad form to start clicking away.


Paolo said...

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh :-O

i can't say anything else:-D

Ms. Violetta said...

How magical.

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

This sounds like an absolutely beautiful experience.

Petulia said...

Sounds wonderful! I am so happy you experienced that.

Kim B. said...

I can't add anything to the comments above -- "magical," "absolutely beautiful," and "ohhhhhhh." Delightful.

I love the idea that the church was built on the site of the old temple to Juno. I can't even imagine how ancient that is!! And how hallowed.

thanks for sharing.

Skywalker said...

I was having dinner last night with a woman from church who is Italian and she was explaining how hard it was for her to adjust to American ideals of Christmas - over there its simple but here we put on a show.

Nice pics

Tracey said...

It looks & sounds beautiful! You are living in such a place of beauty, culture & tradition. And yeah - who the hell stole the manger??? (LOL!) I've never been to mass before either - it all sounds truly magical.

sdg1844 said...

How lovely. It sounds like you had ana incredible experience.

Diana said...

That was lovely to read. I really think there is something special about midnight Mass. Isn't it lovely to be able to experience something like that here in the land where Catholicism started?

I hope you have a wonderful, healthy, and prosperous 2009, ragazza, with many pleasant surprises.

glamah16 said...

Hey girl! I hope you had a merry Christmas and will have a wonderful, prosperous New Year!

Gil said...

Thank you for sharing your wonderful experience with us.

Happy & Healthy New Year!

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

grazie tutti. Happy New Year.

Tracie B. said...

you saw sam waterston?! you know i love me some L&O. merry xmas and happy new year nyc!

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

grazie tracie b...same to you. I'm pretty sure it was him. so random. I love L&O too esp. the Chris Noth years.

Anonymous said...

Love this Church! Thanks for the photos. Sam Waterson is still doing Law & Order, so maybe he is dividing his time- lucky him!

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

janavi - you're welcome!