So today we've been to four countries:
The United States
The Netherlands was for about 45 minutes and we never left the airport so that doesn't really count I guess. As you know, Vatican City, while within the borders of Italy, is its own country. It's actually the smallest country in the world at 110 acres. It was founded in 1929 after the Church lost much of its territory (Papal States) to Italy. Vatican City is a sovereign nation and when you go into it, you are no longer in Italy. There is a white line that encircles the Vatican denoting when you're going into Vatican City.
We spent some time looking around and taking in Saint Peter's Square. It is so huge and so breathtaking that it's hard to put into words. You see this place on TV all the time but now you're here - it's mind blowing. From here we walked around, got some lunch, and then when back to our rooms to take a rest.
At 6pm we headed over to the United States Embassy to the Holy See for a reception. This is when we were in the United States. As you may know, when you step foot on the soil of an American embassy, you are technically on U.S. soil and thus, in America.
In addition to Archbishop Lacroix, four other American archbishops are receiving the Pallium this week from Pope Benedict XVI - the archbishops of Los Angeles, Oklahoma City, San Antonio, and Seattle. They were all there along with their families and friends. The Ambassador to the Holy See, Dr. Miguel Diaz, was very gracious and spent some time talking to us. He used to teach at a Benedictine college in Minnesota so for those of us who graduated from Saint Anselm College, it was nice to have something in common with him. Ambassador Diaz and the five archbishops gave some brief remarks and mingled with the crowd. It was a beautiful embassy up on a hill overlooking the city.
The United States has only had diplomatic relations with the Holy See since 1984 so it's a relatively new embassy. Ray Flynn, the former mayor of Boston, was ambassador under President Clinton. As the Holy See is pretty much a religious entity, the embassy deals with mostly moral issues rather than some of the thornier political issues.
Tomorrow morning is a big day as we well attend Mass in the Crypt of Saint Peter's Basilica and tour the Sistine Chapel and some Vatican Museums.
Stay tuned for more updates!