So, because I dig the new pope, and because I had been asked to do a favour for a loved one, I found myself at the Vatican in the cold, steel-grey morning. (Of course I have no pictures because of course I forgot my phone at home.)
See, the pope holds audiences in St. Peter's square every Wednesday morning for a select group of 20 to 40,000 souls. Tickets are required, and though they are free, you have to fax in your request, which of course I was unable to do. So I decided to try my luck, and as luck would have it (read: it's January), I was hooked right up.
As it turns out, I could have gotten the tickets on my own, but after I helped a lovely British couple to cross the street (I have, much to my delight, managed to acquire a very Roman street crossing style and often lead the way for groups of skittish tourists), they were happy to offer me their spare.
In any case, the audience was great and the pope is beyond delightful. In fact, when he made his way over to my part of the crowd, he even cracked a joke. (Note: This joke comes via the telephone game, as I couldn't quite make out what he was saying and had to ask some Italian pilgrims who repeated it for me. But as my Italian isn't quite where I'd like it to be, I've had to fill in a few blanks.)
As the popemobile wends its way through the crowds, and the pope waves and kisses children (also, adorably, putting their hoods back on them, since it was so cold), someone out of my line of sight is clearly getting overly excited, perhaps hysterical. The pope laughs and make a soothing gesture with his hand, and says (drumroll), "You'd better calm down, or we're going to have to send you to a shrink."