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Pope John Paul II to be beatified May 1


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St. Peter's Square

Piazza San Pietro

Panorama Photo of St. Peter's Square

 Historic Photo of St. Peter's Square

Webcam of St. Peter's Square

Via della Conciliazione is the street leading to Saint Peter's Square.

St. Peter's Square was originally square and was redesigned in 1656 by Gianlorenzo Bernini under commission from Pope Alexander VII who wanted the pope to be seen from the loggia of Saint Peter's and from a window in the pope's quarters. The pope can now be seen from the window of his private library during his Wednesday morning general audiences.  Bernini added a circular colonnade and two fountains.

The ellipse at St. Peter's Square symbolizes the Catholic Church's embrace of the world.

The Egyptian obelisk at the center of St. Peter's Square is from Nero's Circus where Saint Peter was crucified upside down.

Palm Sunday's palms are from the Italian town of Bordighera to honor one of its citizens who saved the 85-foot obelisk from falling during construction of St. Peter's Square

St. Peter's Square was designed to hold 300,000 people.

Posted in St. Peter's Square is a dress code to enter Saint Peter's Basilica: Uncovered shoulders and adults wearing shorts are not permitted.

Thirsty after climbing the 349 steps to the dome of Saint Peter's Basilica from the roof to view Michelangelo's work?  Stop for coffee, water, soda, or ice cream at the rooftop coffee bar. 

Then visit another rooftop shop - run by the sisters of the Disciples of the Divine Master - to purchase a rosary, postcard, or religious gift.

De Ritis shop on Via dei Cestrari in Rome sells ecclesiastical clothes.

Pope Benedict XVI said the Vatican museums are a "sanctuary of art and faith," and entreated the museum staff to be warm and friendly.

Vatican Museums entrance fee is 14.  The Vatican Museums offer free admission the last Sunday of the month and are closed all other Sundays.

Tickets for the Wednesday, 11:00 A. M., papal audience are free and may be obtained from the Office of the Prefettura of the Papal Household.  Telephone: 698.83865 Fax:  698.85863

Visiting Italy?  Stay in a convent

Three years ago, under Rome's Via Triumphalis, during construction of the Santa Rosa parking facility, a necropolis was found and is now open to the public on Fridays and Saturdays by reservation for 5.  According to Francesco Buranelli and Vatican Radio, "...a complete image of Roman society from the age of Augustus to that of Constantine where the tombs of noblemen and those of poorer people coexist...about 250 tombs of the 1st to 4th Century after Christ which offer a complete image of imperial Rome's society and especially of the gradual conversions of Roman society from paganism to Christianity which for the Holy See is, undoubtedly, of primary importance.  We have saved all that was ancient which was brought to light.  Of course we then restored the structures, the material, and put back in place that which was in a lying position, but not that which was in the deposit terrain."

The Mausoleum of the Valerii, one of 22 family mausoleums beneath St. Peter's Basilica, has been restored.  Partly funded by Mercedes-Benz, Maria Cristina Stella, who is an officer at Fabbrica di San Pietro, the department at the Vatican responsible for maintenance, said, "We had wanted to restore it for a long time, but we didn't have the money. Now we're extremely happy."

Watch out for pickpocket children on the No. 64 bus from the Termini train station in Rome to the Vatican.

Which country had the highest crime rate in the world during 2006? Vatican City! Vatican City's Promoter of Justice (the attorney general), Monsignor Nicola Picardi, released the following figures: 341 civil and 486 criminal cases for a Vatican City population of 492. This is 1.5 cases per person which is 20 times the crime rate for Italy! Pickpocketing of tourists is the most frequent crime.

Newlywed couples can be seated in the front row of a general audience at the Vatican after receiving special tickets requested by their pastor.  At the end of the general audience, the pope will personally greet and bless the couple and present them with a blessed rosary.  Traditionally, couples dress in their wedding attire.

Visiting Saint Mark's Basilica in Venice, Italy? Cover shoulders and knees.  Venetian police are patrolling Saint Mark's Square and issuing fines to poorly-dressed and badly-behaved tourists.

Visitors to the Piazzale Roma in Venice will be handed a kit containing a plastic bottle with the slogan "Don't throw me away; reuse me," and a map of Venice's 122 drinking fountains. Venice receives almost 19 million visitors a year each leaving plastic bottles behind.

Built by Pope Alexander VI in 1503, after a ten-year restoration, the papal dungeons/prisons at Castel Sant'Angelo, the pope's summer residence are reopening only at night so as to enhance the experience.  Guides will recount stories of some of the famous prisoners including Florentine Renaissance master painter Benvenuti Cellini who was imprisoned at Castel Sant'Angelo for one year for killing his brother's murderer.

Rome is building a new 15.5 mile subway which is expected to be completed in 2015.  After years of tug-o-war between archeologists and subway engineers, the two camps have reached an accord.  A series of ancient taverns have been unearthed so far.  Italy and Greece have strict preservation laws.

Marking the celebration of the Feast of Saint Anthony the Abbot, farmers brought their animals to Saint Peter's Square to be blessed by Cardinal Angelo Comastri:  Catholic News Service reports a "donkey and her baby, a water buffalo and her calf, a skittish ostrich, a large white boar, rabbits and baby bunnies, hens and geese, milk cows, a horse and a steer, sheep, lambs and goats."  A large dumpster was on hand.

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