Although only in Rome for a few days, it fascinated me to see the richly ornate Basilica of St. Peter during the great Saint Peter's Day celebrations. These cloisters were massed with people and aglow with lights. Suddenly the organ struck up and Pope John Paul II appeared, carried high above the crowds on his papal throne or "sedia gestatoria" in his rich Papal vestments. When this massive man passed by, I was close enough to see the expression on his face. He seemed to be thinking to himself, "This is not where I belong, but if it means anything to you then I'm willing to go through with it!" His humility and sense of responsibility peeped out from under his vestments.
Some people have asked me whether the blessing of the Bishop of Rome is acceptable or not. I have always believed in keeping my heart open to God for blessing from every source. Canterbury will always be the center for me, of course, but I still made sure I knelt at several of St. Peter's marble altars to remember in prayer my friends and co-workers far away.
The blessings of my brief holiday were soon over. My plane took off from Rome in the early afternoon. In three short hours, I was looking down on England. From the air, the lush countryside resembled a beautiful green carpet, in marked contrast to the dusty matted brown of Italy. Later, bogged down in the rush hour congestion on the way to the railway station in Central London, I realized that my train to Chester had already gone. When I did eventually arrive there, it was the small hours of the following morning and too late to find anywhere to stay.