I was lucky enough to visit the Vatican City for the first time in December 2002, with my family. We were even more fortunate to know a priest within the Vatican, a friend of my grandfather, who granted us early and special access to parts of the holy city not normally granted to visitors, including a very special and personal tour of the catacombs beneath, and front row seats in an audience with Pope John Paul II. My second visit was last year with my husband.
Although I was raised as a Catholic, going to church every Sunday with my family, it’s not something I identify with strongly anymore – I’m not really sure what I do and don’t believe it at this point in my life, I’m the first to admit it confuses the hell out of me! But that said, I have a great respect for any religion, because I’ve seen how religion can give hope to the hopeless, to inspire ghosts to keep on living, how it can bring out the pure goodness in some, lighting to way for others. ALL religions can have this power, and for that reason, they should be respected, whether or not we agree with their principles.
The Vatican City is an incredible place, for Catholics and non-Catholics alike. On a design level, the architecture and the artistry are really something else – they truly are phenomenal. The colours are so vivid, the gold sparkling, the spaces enormous and cavernous, dwarfing all of us inside. The view from the top of the cupola is absolutely breath-taking (and not just from the climb). And physical impressiveness aside, I think that regardless of your belief system, most people would agree with feeling a real calm in their souls in this place… It’s quite hard to describe, but it’s almost like it’s all just so impressive, your heart and mind and soul just become quiet for a little while, taking it all in….