First person: Easter at the Vatican
Posted April 1, 2013
Updated April 11, 2013
A group of students and teachers from Raleigh's Cardinal Gibbons Catholic High School saw the significance of their planned trip to Rome kicked up a notch with the retirement of Pope Benedict and elevation of Pope Francis.
Those on the pilgrimage not only spent Christianity's holiest week in the capital of Catholicism, they attended the first Easter Mass of Francis' papacy.
Students Catherine Graff and Marisa Casson shared their impressions:
Marisa wrote: Easter Mass with Pope Francis was truly an inspiring and moving experience. From start to finish, the energy of the crowd made the experience even more amazing. While waiting in line to rush to find our spot in St. Peter's Square, we heard cheers of "Viva la Papa!"
Mass was said in tons of different languages, with the second reading said in English! Although Pope Francis' closing statement wasn't in English, his enthusiasm was unmistakable. And of course, nothing can quite top the excitement when Pope Francis rode out into the crowd!
As a whole, the trip was a truly incredible opportunity.
Since I have gone to Catholic school my whole life, it was so awesome to finally get to put all my years of learning into real life experiences! Easter Mass at the Vatican was particularly special because I was with hundreds of thousands of people who share in a common faith and believe what I believe. As a Catholic, nothing can be more rewarding than the experience that I had.
Catherine wrote: Although there were thousands of people, and we had to stand the entire time, the Mass was a once in a lifetime experience.
I have been going to Mass since I was a baby, and this was the best Mass I have ever been to.
It didn't matter to me that the Mass was in Latin, I knew what was going on.
What mattered to me was that I was standing a place where the history of Christianity was. St. Peter's grave was in the building in front of us, and he died close to where we were. St. Paul died not far from there as well. I was excited to be standing in a historic place where millions of people who shared my beliefs had been coming to gather for thousands of years.
The Mass was beautiful. My favorite part was when Pope Francis rode his Popemobile through the crowd, waving to everyone, shaking hands, giving hugs and kissing babies. He was so nice!
Easter Mass was a fantastic experience and memory I will keep with me forever.