Passport to the World over 64 years. Pages from my Travel Diary

Tuesday the 4th. of June 1963. A visit to Rome and St Peters.

The Altar St Peter's, Rome
The Atlar St Peter's Rome
I had arrived on my first visit to Rome, and learned that Pope John had died yesterday. He was the third child of 13 children when born on the 25th. of November in 1881. In 1925 he had been consecrated Archbishop and sent to Sofia in Bulgaria. In 1904 he was off to Turkey and Greece, and spent part of WW1 in Instambul. When 64, he became the Nuncio to Paris, at age 72 he was elevated to be a Cardinal and the Patriach of Venice.

When Pope Pius X11 died, John was elected Pope in 1958, when almost 78 years old. He served as such, until his death on the 3rd. of June 1963, having won wide spread affection from both Christian and non Christian alike.

To visit St Peters Basilica, where His Holiness was lying in state on the High Altar, it was necessary to join a huge queue that wound its way around St Peter's Square. It was some two hours before I was able to enter through the doors of this wonderful church, and slowly wend my way up to where the body of the Pope was lying.

Notices outside the Basilica indicated that all photographs within the confines of St Peters were banned, but as many of the Catholic clergy reached the place to view Pope John, they whipped out a camera from beneath their clothing and took a photograph, I must admit that I did likewise.

I was struck by the size of the late Pope's feet, they appeared to me to be quite huge, as he lay there in state, dominating the whole scene.

St Peters is a magnificent church, and the sombre occasion on which I had my first visit there, served to etch this day into my memory, as I slowly made my way out into the square, still packed with pilgrims waiting to pay their last respects to a much loved Pope.

St Peters Square, Rome
St Peters Square, Rome


Interior of St Peters
Interior of St Peters


Michaelangelo's Pieta, St Peters Rome
Michael Angelo's Pieta, St Peters Rome

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