Ringing in 2011: New Year’s Eve in Vatican City

Written by Jenn

New Year’s Eve December 31st, 2010 was (so far) the best New Year’s Eve we experienced together as a family. At 10pm we donned all our warm layers, along with our mitts and tuques, and walked the two blocks from our rental apartment to St. Peter’s Square for an evening  of prayer to welcome in the new year of 2011.

St Peter’s Square was aglow with twinkling lights in the crisp night air. The life-sized nativity scene stood sacredly under the ancient Egyptian obelisk while the luminous presence of St. Peter’s Basilica watched over the entire spectacle.

People from all over the world were just arriving, trickling into the fenced off section of the square, as volunteers greeted them by the entrance. We were each given a candle to hold and light during prayers.

Brian was invited to read a prayer in English for the recessional prayers. He joined numerous readers visiting from all over the world. That evening was a stunning gathering of tongues which prayed in different languages – German, English, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Polish, Mandarin, Filipino, Korean, and many more. Each one prayed with joy and hope for the new year to come.

I was in awe just standing there. Sensing tangibly that we were all one family from different backgrounds – countries, cultures, languages – who in that hour of prayer, belonged to each other.

The singing was soulful and moving. The atmosphere intensely joyful and filled with a powerful, spiritual peace. I couldn’t think of any better way than to celebrate the first moments of January 1st, 2011 – Vatican City’s 44th World Day of Peace as a family.

At the strike of midnight, the crowd turned their faces upward to marvel at the fireworks outside the square. There were yelps of excitement, and everyone speaking vibrantly.

Brian and I stood speechless and smiling, taking in the entire scene, while the kids hopped around the square with their candles.

At the end of the fireworks show, we slowly made our way back to our apartment. We took the long way home, rambling unhurriedly along the cobbled steps to stop and stare at the old stone architecture surrounding us.

I breathed in deeply Rome’s quiet night beauty.  Grasping hold of it to make room inside myself to become a part of me. Under Rome’s twinkling stars, we walked home by candle light, so full of hope for the promises of the new year.

“Hope is a waking dream.” ~ Aristotle

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4 Responses to Ringing in 2011: New Year’s Eve in Vatican City

  1. Dolores says:

    What a memorable moment for you & your family. New Years Day, 2012 must have been another unique experience for the six of you. Bonne Année à tous!

  2. BEAUTIFUL! Might have to add this to one of my “bucket list” items. Even though I am not a fan of cold weather, it certainly would be a wondrous experience to pray in the New Year with people from all over the world. And I know the kids would love the candles. 🙂

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