Spring Romers Camp Out for Canonization of Popes John XXIII, John Paul II
Friday, April 25, 2014
5:30 a.m.: Lauren Bergeron, BA '16, and Jenna Sommer, BA '16, among others, leave UD's Eugene
Constantin Campus to catch the first bus into Rome.
While they wait: Bergeron and Leah Nappe, BA '16, give an interview that is picked up by NBC DFW 5,
which airs it at least five times over the weekend; it also airs on stations in Georgia,
in Pennsylvania and in Odessa, Texas.
9:30 a.m.: Joe Dougherty, BA '16, Liam O'Toole, BA '16, and Matt Zelinsky, BA '16, leave campus.
While they wait: According to Dougherty, students "variously study, eat, talk, pray a rosary, meet
with friends and priests and give interviews."
11 p.m.: St. Peter's Square closes, and students camp outside the colonnade.
Saturday, April 26, 2014
1 p.m.: Joseph Malone, BA '16, leaves campus; he joins up with a group of other UD students
once he gets to St. Peter's Square.
While they wait: The UD students meet and talk with people from all over the world.
"Throughout the weekend, we met a ton of amazing people, people who had walked and
hitchhiked all the way from Poland, people from Texas, people from other American
states, priests, seminarians, religious, people who had been personally converted
by JPII at World Youth Day and so many more." - Lauren Bergeron
"We met several reporters, lots of Steubenville students, a couple of Polish guys
who had hitchhiked for days to be there and Fr. Leo, the 'cooking priest' of EWTN."
- Joe Dougherty
"I met a person from Houston, one from the DC area and some people from Poland. The
person from the DC area was actually wearing a UD sweatshirt. His daughter had looked
into UD and had almost gone here, but ended up going to Benedictine for music. He
was there with his sons on a Conquest father/son retreat. The Polish group was a group
of youngish, I'd say college age, people. They sang songs and talked. I talked with
one of them about different areas of study." - Joseph Malone
6 p.m.: St. Peter's Square closes, and everyone has to leave. The Via della Conciliazione
(the street in front of St. Peter's Square) is cleared all the way to the Tiber River.
8 p.m.: Most of the roads around St. Peter's have been blocked off. Malone walks around for
a while, taking note of which roads are blocked, and barely makes it back to his group
(which is about 75 feet from the barricade at the end of the Via della Conciliazione)
in the increasing crowds.
Divine Mercy Sunday, April 27, 2014
12 a.m.: Sleep becomes mostly impossible. The barricades to the Via della Conciliazione are
either opened or pushed over. People rush in, standing very close together, sometimes
sitting and trying to get some sleep.
"Once the crowd took you, there was no way to turn back. There were people all around
us, and at times we couldn't even breathe because of the amount of people. We stood
in the mob for about eight hours straight until the square opened at 5:30 a.m. We
were so closely packed that not everyone could sit at the same time, so a lot of people
stood that entire time." - Lauren Bergeron
Approximately 5:30 a.m.: The gates of St. Peter's open.
7-8 a.m.: St. Peter's Square fills up. Malone makes it in. Bergeron and the other girls who
have been camping out since Friday morning do not. Malone finds some other UDers and
takes an hour-long nap on the cobblestones of St. Peter's while waiting for Mass to
start. Meanwhile, Bergeron finds a less crowded piazza.
10 a.m.: Mass begins. Dougherty watches the Mass from the Via della Conciliazione, some distance
outside St. Peter's. The crowd, he says, is too dense for anyone to sit down. An estimated
800,000 to 1,000,000 people fill the square and Via della Conciliazione.
When asked if it was worth it:
"It was totally worth it. We were in the back, near the entrance to the square by
the left colonnade [looking at St. Peter's]. We could see everything quite clearly."
- Joseph Malone
"It was worth every strain. The spectacle itself was not incomparable, but the vision
of communion, of love, of the mighty action of God and man shone over all. The Poles,
Lebanese, Italians, Americans, Irish and English were all there." - Joe Dougherty
"Many people would say it was not worth it, but I would say despite the fact that
I didn't make it in, I was blessed to have been there. I got to meet so many amazing
people. Also, I prayed that if it was God's will I would make it into the square,
so it obviously wasn't. Instead I received gifts of humility, trust and patience,
which better commemorate the lives of these two saints than getting a seat in St.
Peter's Square." - Lauren Bergeron
In the photo: Lauren Bergeron, Leah Nappe and Natalie Gosline, BA '16, with their camping gear.
Photo courtesy of Lauren Bergeron.