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Tuesday 09 August |
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Passing Through the Holy Door

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Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 05/25/16

Siobhain and I arrived early for our appointed time. The friendly yellow-vested volunteers pointed us through the walkway snaking through the collonade and into St. Peter’s Square, eventually leading us up the main steps of St. Peter’s and, with no fanfare, right through the Holy Door.

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Security was pretty tight: we had to pass our bags through a TSA-style conveyer belt scanner, and walk through an x-ray screener. And a security guy barked at me when I started to snap pictures of the door, “No pictures!”

That sort of ruined the whole “holy” experience, frankly, but the short pilgrimage through that singular portal was still unexpectedly moving. My wife and I took time to say the appropriate prayers before passing through the door, and took a selfie inside St. Peter’s to commemorate the moment.

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After that, we decided to celebrate with, what else, gelato!

We walked several blocks to Old Bridge Gelateria (recommended by, among others, Rick Steves). Leaving St. Peter’s, we saw some Swiss Guards doing their Swiss Guard tourist thing. People were constantly going up and asking them questions or asking to take pictures.

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Over at Old Bridge, the line spilling onto the sidewalk told the story: this place is a huge tourist draw.

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The stuff is just as good as we’d heard.

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After our gelato jolt—Siobhain had hazelnut, I had cookies and cream—we hopped a taxi to Santa Susanna, to pick up our tickets for the General Audience on Wednesday. Since the church itself is closed for renovations, we then walked several blocks to St. Patrick’s, run by the Augustinians, for the 6 p.m. Mass.

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The kindly Irish Jesuit who celebrated Mass, Father Jerry Whedon, heard it was our anniversary and offered to renew our vows—something they like to do at the parish, he told me.  How could we say no? We had a brief restatement of our vows and a variation of the nuptial blessing after the homily, followed by a friendly round of applause from the 20 or so people in attendance (many, it turns out, Americans).

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After that, it was back to the other side of the Tiber, to Restaurant Scarpone (which Joan Lewis had praised highly in her book “A Holy Year in Rome.”) It’s reputedly a favorite of Cardinal Dolan, and a lot of the priests and seminarians at the NAC.

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We got there a little after 7, for a 7:30 reservation. The place was empty.

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It stayed that way most of the time we were there. This is an Italian thing, evidently: the restaurants really don’t start hopping until around 9 p.m. When we left, about 9:15, things were a lot livelier, especially on the terrace outside.

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Siobhain rarely eats red meat, so we went full carnivore: gnocchi for the first course, then steak and salad. I have to say: it was one of the finest cuts of meat I’ve encountered, grilled to perfection. Take that, Peter Luger’s!

Tiramisu for dessert. My little cup had a face on it!

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The manager called a taxi for us and we zipped back up the hill to Casa Bonus Pastor in about 10 minutes.

A great, full day—and a great way to celebrate what is still, and will always be, the greatest decision of my life.

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