Looking towards the front of St. Peter’s, from the inside, near the Sacresty. The sunlight is coming through the front door.

Day 2 in Rome started with 7 a.m. Mass at St. Peter’s. Hands down this is the best time of day to visit St. Peter’s. Even if you are not Catholic, you will surely be moved by the quiet and prayerful environment. Masses are being said at the various side altars. Just pick one and there you have it.

After Mass and breakfast, I headed out to Rome proper. One the way, I saw the Pope-mobile set up and ready to go for the General Audience.

You know how people talk about the sunlight and color? Look at this.

Wow. Simply. Wow. I only wish I were a good photographer. But you get the gist of it.

And then there’s the marble foot.

And a closer look.

A stop at Santa Maria Sopra Minerva (near the Pantheon) to pay a visit to St. Catherine of Siena and several others, with some time spent at Lippi’s chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas (who, btw, needs to help me with my paper).

This chapel is one of my favorite. Unfortunately, I did not have the requisite euro coin to light it up. It’s certainly worth it.

Outside of S. M. Sopra Minerva (btw, it’s “Sopra Minerva” because it was supposedly built on the ruins or the site of a temple to Minerva), you’ll see this obelisk supported by an elephant (sort of a mascot of Siena) done by Bernini.

As the story goes, Bernini designed the sculpture to have a huge space under and between the legs of the elephant. But the commissioning Cardinal insisted that the elephant would then be unable to support the weigh of the obelisk. Bernini, added the tapestry because he thought the elephant would look pretty ugly without the space left as he had designed it.

Later, he got his chance to prove himself correct in the nearby Piazza Navona where he constructed the base sculpture for an even larger obelisk.

Take a closer look at all that space underneath the obelisk:

And when in Rome, I always go to visit the church of S. Maria Magdalena where the crucifix of San Camillus (the patron of health care workers and founder of an order dedicated to the care of the sick) is kept. He is also buried here. He dates back 400 years.

Anyway, he would pour out his heart in prayer before this crucifix (to the right of the main altar, in a side chapel):

Twice, the corpus on the crucifix reached down to pat him on the shoulder saying, at least once, “Don’t worry. It’s not your work. It’s mine.”

What a great way to put our challenges in perspective! I prayed especially for those whom I know who are involved in projects bigger than themselves.

Lunch. Tonnarelli cacio e pepe.

During the summer, I like this dish with a simple red wine called Lacrima del Moro (the Moor’s Tear – just one tear).

And that pasta is perfectly wound. Even part way through:

And still:

Well, you get the idea.

Next to me was a table of four people speaking French who also provided some singing for entertainment.

The rest of the day was casual, until evening when I returned back to the Domus Sanctae Marthae. They forgot to tell me that most of the Vatican entrances close at 8 p.m. The police near the Vatican didn’t know of open entrance. Fortunately, I came across a Bishop who was showing some guests around outside and he was able to point me in the right direction.There is indeed a non obvious entrance.

As they say in Italian, meno male.