Spruced-up and Ready to Go

I just came from a tour of the Vatican embassy in Northwest D.C., where Pope Benedict XVI will be staying. Nice digs, though a little musty inside.

Outside, the pope will be greeted tomorrow as he arrives and departs by lucky parishioners from churches throughout the archdiocese, who were chosen because they did not receive tickets to the Mass. So instead of squinting down at a distant altar from the sky-high seats at Nationals Park, they'll be 25 feet from the pope as he emerges and enters the embassy. Archidocese spokesperson Mary Schneidau said groups of about 150 Catholics (ticketed and OK'd in advance by the Secret Service) will gather on the small lawn in front of the circular drive. On Wednesday, a children's choir will sing him happy birthday to celebrate his 81st birthday.
Inside the embassy, papal nuncio (that is, the Vatican ambassador to the United States) Pietro Sambi gave a few journalists a short tour. He showed us the small chapel where the pope will celebrate Mass while he is here.

It's quite modern; a dozen blond-wood pews, a freestanding stone altar and a magnificent golden-hued mosaic behind the altar featuring the Virgin Mary with the baby Jesus, and the figures of St. Peter and St.Paul. Flanking the mosaic are statues of St. Joseph and Jesus.

Outside, Sambi gave a tour of the spruced-up garden, which features an oval flagstone walkway in case the pope wants to take his regular afternoon walk out there. (It's small. One would think that that after a couple of laps, it would get rather tedious).

Pansies and daffodils sprout from flower beds, and a statue of St. Peter is surrounded by flowers as well.

Sambi had a few thoughts about the pope and his trip. Benedict, he said, "is not a politician. He is a man expert in humanity. He is a man expert in spirituality." If the papal trip is a success, he said, "it is not a success for the pope. It is a success for the church in the United States and a success for the American people."

By Jacqueline L. Salmon |  April 14, 2008; 12:50 PM ET
Previous: Pope's Greetings to U.S. from Rome | Next: Pope Speaks at St. Peter's


Please email us to report offensive comments.

Sounds like a great way to celebrate a birthday. D.C. is rolling out the red carpet, but how much is this costing the taxpayers?

Posted by: Gabe | April 14, 2008 7:58 PM

Think about all the revenue that D.C. will be generating by the Pope's visit...that should even out the cost for the taxpayers...

Posted by: hmmm | April 15, 2008 11:03 AM

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