Yesterday, we went to visit the Vatican City. I was surprised at how excited I was to be there and about how it affected me. I was raised Catholic, but I haven’t been even a remotely practicing member of any religion for about 20 years.
But from even before we arrived, I felt a connection to that part of my life, and even more strongly to the people in my life for whom Catholicism has been important. I couldn’t help but think a lot about how excited my grandmother, who passed away over 10 years ago, would be about us visiting Vatican City.
My feeling of connection and nostalgia was so strong that I actually bought myself a Rosary at the museum gift shop. (I’m as surprised as anyone about that, but it seemed like the thing to do.) In some ways, that connection to my personal history was one of my favorite things about my visit to Vatican City.
Another of my favorite things was my kids’ reactions. They loved it. Within the first few minutes of exploring the museum, both of the boys were running around on an outdoor patio shouting, “I love Varican City!” I’m not sure exactly what they loved so much, but they were really enthusiastic about it.
And then, we started in on the museum, and got to see so much amazing art. I loved the detail of the map room, from the ornate ceiling to the beautiful, incredibly detailed maps of Italy from the 16th century. I was captivated by Rapheal’s “School of Athens” and the signifance of its placement in the Vatican. And then we got to the Sistine Chapel, which was the part I was most looking forward to. The scope and the detail were awesome, and it was incredibly special to be in such a magnificent space. (As a note, although we loved the Vatican Museum, we wish we hadn’t brought the stroller, because there were so many stairs, and the elevators were only for wheelchairs.)
But of all the art we saw, my favorite was yet to come. At dinner, Benjamin and Liam decorated their placemats with drawings of fire trucks and happy stick figures. Benjamin is at the point where his drawings are starting to really look like what he imagines — I’m not sure when he got so good, maybe he was inspired by Michelangelo and Raphael — and it is wonderful to see his placemat collection of smiling family members and friends. Of all the art we’ve seen, it’s definitely my favorite.