Is the Bear Catholic?

Patrick told me not to go see the Popertacular Easter Hootenany today. I protested, "Why? It'll be fucking awesome." "That's why. You can't use expletives to describe the premier holiday of a religion."

But I went, even though it took over an hour to get to the Vatican, because... well, what else did I have to do? I arrived at the tail end of the sermon, and I have to say... it was awe-inspiring and magnificent, and I felt as if warmed by Jesus' embrace. No, wait, that was the tens of thousands of sweaty Catholics pressing up against me to get a better view of the Pope.

In all honesty, though, it is kind of impressive (albeit also quite frightening) just how many people make the pilgrimage to Vatican City every year - from all over the world - to hear the Easter service. I overheard one American woman complaining that she had waited 6 years to come to Rome on Easter and her camera had run out of batteries. Another group of people held up signs that spelled Esperanto (no idea why). And a bunch of French teenagers chanted "Viva il Papa!" until they were hoarse.

I skipped the service, mostly because I didn't want to get up that early but also because I'm not exactly Catholic, but decided to go for the Pope's Urbi et Orbi speech, which he delivers from the Papal apartments. It's kind of a Pope state of the union address, only it's addressed to the entire world, is only 15 minutes long, and isn't interrupted by senators applauding. You can read it in English here, but he mostly denounced all the evil in the world. Unless you're spiffy enough to get a front-row seat to the Eastertastic happenings, the Pope is a little speck on the balcony, wearing gold robes against the hanging crimson tapestries. Helpfully, though, there are three jumbo-trons so that you can see what exactly the Pope is doing with that 5-foot-long candle up in his bedroom. The pixellated, Max Headroom-esque beatific Pope and his booming, disembodied voice that echoes from around the square are kind of disconcerting.

At the end, the Pope wished a happy Easter in about 40 different languages. I was happy to hear "Christos vos cresa" in Russian, but not as happy as the Filipino contingent was to hear their native language. If you watch the videos on my website, you can hear them break into cheer so loud that the Pope has to stop to let them quiet down. Who knew there were Catholic Filipinos?

So Easter at the Vatican was an experience. I only regret that I didn't stick around long enough to find out the answer to the question, "Does a wild Pope..." er, I guess that's the kind of inappropriate comment I promised to forgo for today.


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