Today, in Rome, we went to see one of the greatest statues ever carved. Art Historians have heaped praise on Bernini’s The Ecstasy of St Teresa for centuries.
We knew it was inside a church, Santa Maria della Vittoria, so we were surprised when the door was unlocked.
Until we walked in and realised we’d interrupted Roman Catholic mass.
Still wanting to see the statue, we took some seats on the aisle and kneeled to pray with the Italians.
We knew we had our chance when they started the Eucharist. If we joined in, we’d be able to see the statue while we were standing at the altar.
Wordlessly, we rose and joined the queue of nuns and assorted Italians with rosary beads. Paul, being the good little St Peters boy that he is, was just fine. I, on the other hand, started to have a freak out of papal proportions.
“Do I have to share a cup with everyone?” “Will the priest be able to tell I’m not a Catholic?” “Is it wrong to partake in the communion of another faith just to see a work of art?” “Is everyone looking at me?” “Is it hot in here?”
I get to the front of the queue. The priest looks straight through me. I hold out my hand for the little wafer disc. And open my mouth at the same time. He cocks his head a little to the side, gives me a confused look, mutters something including the word “Christo” and shoves the cracker in mouth.
It tastes like plastic. I grab Paul, who is sharing in the ecstasy of St Teresa, and we walk straight out the door.
Once outside, my St Peters boy informs me that the Catholic faith considers partaking in the Eucharist before having your ‘first Catholic communion’ a very serious sin.
I feel like a puppy who just ate a whole block of chocolate.