St. Peter's Square, 30 June 2010
We're in St. Peter's Square, waiting for the Papal audience to start. We're three rows from the front, so we have an excellent view. The cameras and security are being set up, and a marching band just came in. They look Austrian with bright red vests, short black pants, and brown feathered caps. They sound great, and are a pleasant distraction from the sun beating down on us.
We've been here 90 minutes, with 60 minutes left to go before the Holy Father arrives. I can't even begin to estimate how many people are here. My ticket number is near 18000, though, so 20,000 could be a modest estimate.
Thirty minutes out, and the brass band has been joined by a pipe-and-drum band dressed in black medieval-looking robes and frilly collars.
There was also an impromptu performance by a boy's choir behind us, and the Panamanian contingent nearby was just singing. Not sure if it's Battle of the Bands, or Vatican Idol, but it passes the time.
The Holy Father's address was in Italian, after a reading from Paul's letter to the Romans in Italian, French, English, German, Spanish, Portuguese, and Polish. After the address are greetings and prayers for groups by language, with a shorter address in each language by the Holy Father - he has a definite German accent to his English. In the callouts, I learned that the brass band was indeed Austrian, the boy's choir behind us is from Ireland, and the pipe-and-drum band from Spain. There are several other choirs in the audience, all of whom have sung when called out.