I know a lot of good observant Catholics who would love to have done what I did last night. Well, I tried to think of you all while I was there - honest!
I think that the Via Crucis might usually be a candle-lit affair that the Pope attends each year at the Colisseum. But with all the media focus on this being Benedict's first Easter, there was television lighting as well.
There were loads of people there. I could not see the Pope until the very end, when I caught glimpses of his brilliant red outfit through some tree branches as he gave a speech and blessing.
I was there early enough to get the booklet they had printed off. Mostly the words were in Italian, but the Pater Noster was in Latin at the end of each station. Each station was ilustrated. (This booklet coming your way in a few weeks Fran.) From what I could make out of the Italian, the words seemed pretty positive in the sense of looking at what we have and haven't done and how that affects others.
The crowds kept pouring in. There was a big bunch of Romanian pilgrims near me. A group of young Spaniards ( I think) were playing guitar and singing while waiting, which was very pleasant. Some were playing cards while they waited, or picnicking. I kept moving back (as I need to feel 'clear' ear with my blocked nose!) and ended up beside an Italian speaking nun who was devoutly praying thoughout. Later, a younger woman who wanted to sit on the ground and concentrate, ended up on the other side of me. With me standing there, others were less likely to step on her. It was quite an island of movement around where we were through the entire time - but that is often how Mass seems to be in an Italian church I have noticed!
Each station was announced in about seven languages, English being third on the list after Italian and French. I never tracked down another Kiwi the whole evening but ya musta been there so Gidday!
Even though there is so much about the Church emphasis on the Cross that I don't understand or share belief in, I was glad to be part of what was going on, even being there in place of some others I know would love to have been there. The blessing from the end from Benedict I valued: and at that point I felt quite Catholic for once!