Going to Mass, part two (Pala d'Oro)
During my most recent trip, I went to Mass in San Marco on December 8 for The Feast of the Immaculate Conception. The Basilica was completely full (they even had video screens for people in the “no view” seats, and something about the sight of modern technology in that ancient church really amused me), and the Mass was conducted by the Patriarch of Venice who only does a few Masses a year on high holy days. The Mass lasted for an hour and a half, and I was not in the least bit bored because I was in my favorite church in the world, the music was gorgeous, all the pomp and circumstance seemed holy and beautiful, and it just felt great to be there.
The Patriarch (Angelo Cardinal Scola) has a lot of charisma, and he even gave messages in different languages. His English message was something about “the mystery and beauty of this great cathedral – may it give you hope” which of course it does, because I love that church so much! And then he said, “Have a nice stay in Venice.”
But the best part was the fact that the Pala d’Oro, that amazing golden altar screen, was turned around to face the people (most of the time, it’s flipped around so that they can charge us a Euro or so to go back and look at it). It's only turned around on high holy days and this was the first time I'd seen it like that. Beautiful!