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Every Wednesday when the Pope is in residence at the Vatican, he hosts a general audience for the public.  When the weather is suitable, the audience takes place in St. Peter's Square.  During inclement weather, the audience is moved to the nearby Paul VI Audience Hall on the south edge of Vatican City which has seating for 6,300 people.  During the hottest part of the year, the Pope is often at the Papal Summer Residence at Castel Gandolfo outside Rome.




As during the 2010 trip, I was able with the help of my friends to obtain tickets for the Reparto Speciale (Special Section) up near the Papal throne.  The white shade cover above is where the Pope sits during the audience.  I had to compete with even earlier risers in 2012 though and couldn't get a front row seat.  We opted to take seats on the left side where we had a view of the main seating area, the bands, and the Papal throne.




This was the week of the 85th birthday of the Pontiff, his 7th anniversary of election to the Papacy, and the 1700th anniversary of the conversion of St. Constantine, the first Christian Roman Emperor.  A small band was there from Waging am See, Bavaria, a small town down the road from the small town (Marktl) where the Holy Father was born.  The band was, of course, equipped with tubas for making the distinctive ooompah! sound.





There was also a band there from Spain which dealt out more classical and religious music.




Having been to one of these before, I knew where to keep my camera focused for the first appearance of the Pope as he entered the Popemobile to ride through the crowd.  The guys with dark suits and ties are, obviously, executive protection.




The vehicle is taken on a winding course through all the aisles of the general admission seating so that everyone who traveled far to see the Pontiff gets their wish.




There's a constant sound of clicking camera shutters.




Various groups on pilgrimage to the event wear baseball caps of the same color in an attempt to stay together in the mob scene.




After a half hour of driving through the crowds, the Popemobile ascends the ramp to the throne.




The Swiss Guard is, of course, on guard.  These two are posted to the Pope's left.




After a welcoming speech ( in 7 or more languages), the various groups are recognized by the presiding Cardinal and respond by cheering themselves.  Once these preliminaries are disposed of, the Pontiff delivers a brief homily in the various languages from the throne.  Following that, the Holy Father leads the assembly in reciting the Pater Noster in Latin.  At this audience, I would estimate that there were around 30,000 people in attendance.  The seating was filled, the remainder of the piazza was filled with standees, and the crowd was piled up several hundred yards up all the streets intersecting the piazza.