|1008: St Peter's Square, Vatican City|
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|Mystery Worshipper: Mother Clanger, with some help from Baby Clanger.
The church: St Peter's Basilica, Vatican City.
Denomination: Roman Catholic. (Depending on your point of view, Pope Benedict XVI is the spiritual leader of many Christian souls or one of Satan's special friends.)
The building: The Inaugural Mass for Pope Benedict XVI was outside in St Peter's Square, with St Peter's Basilica as a backdrop. The basilica is said to be built over the place where St Peter was buried in AD64, and which was a shrine in the early centuries of the Christian faith. The current basilica was dedicated in 1626, and is the largest church in the world. The square (actually an oval) was built in the 17th century, and is said to make visitors feel they are being embraced by Mother Church. I would like to say that I was a bona fide member of the crowd in St Peter's Square, but like most people, I watched history being made on the TV in the comfort of my own home.
The church: A sofa in a terraced house somewhere in the UK.
The neighbourhood: The Vatican itself is a tiny collection of buildings in the heart of Rome. In the streets that surround it, you can buy some of the most expensive (and nasty, if the café we once visited was anything to go by!) coffee and pizza in the world. If you don't want food, you can also buy souvenirs ranging from the tasteful to the tacky.
The cast: Pope Benedict XVI presided at the Mass. A group of 12 people, who were chosen to represent the whole church, knelt before the Pope to pledge allegiance.
|What was the name of the service?
Mass for the Inauguration of the Pontificate of Benedict XVI (24 April 2005), the 265th Pope.
How full was the building?
St Peter's Square and the surrounding area looked packed. According to the BBC, 350,000 people were present.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
Baby Clanger gave me a hug. Huw Edwards also welcomed those watching on TV.
Was your pew comfortable?
My sofa was very comfortable, thank you.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
There seemed to be an air of anticipation in St Peter's while the crowd waited for the Pope and the cardinals to finish praying at the site of St Peter's tomb, underneath St Peter's Basilica, and to come into the sunshine. The reverent atmosphere was interrupted by Baby Clanger's demands for a game of football, so we combined that with prayers for the new Pope and listening to the Laudes Regiae, a litany calling for divine assistance for the Holy Father.
What were the exact opening words of the service?
I'm not entirely sure as Baby Clanger needed a nappy change at that point. But the Laudes Regiae began with, Exaudi, Christe. I assume this means, "O Christ, hear us."
What books did the congregation use during the service?
There were no books, although the Vatican website helpfully provided the order of service click here. Various members of the BBC News team explained aspects of the service, such as the question of what a pallium is. Apparently, it's a shawl embroidered with five red silk crosses, representing the five wounds of Christ. It's made from lambs' wool, signifying the role of the shepherd and is reserved for bishops and popes.
What musical instruments were played?
An organ and a choir. It sounded alright to me, and Baby Clanger was spellbound. Did anything distract you? Being at home while watching something like this felt really odd. Part of me longed to be there, while another part of me was relieved that I wasn't.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Very traditional Catholic Mass in Latin with commentary from the BBC.
For this report, we sent the Mystery Worshipper calling card to the Pope.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
It's hard to rate Pope Benedict XVI in these circumstances, as they're so untypical of what most preachers have to face, so I'll give him an 8.
In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
Pope, Benedict XVI spoke of his inadequacy for the job and asked people to pray for him to be able to fulfil his new role. He also reminded us that Christ is with us all in each and every endeavour. He spoke of the challenges ahead and said his primary role was not to present a programme of governance to the church and pursue his own ideas, but to listen to the will of God and be guided by it. The full text of his sermon is on the Vatican website click here.
Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
Listening to the homily: "All the Saints of God are there to protect me, to sustain me and to carry me. And your prayers, my dear friends, your indulgence, your love, your faith and your hope accompany me." And for Baby Clanger and I to be able to add our voices to those prayers. A group of 12 people – three cardinals, a bishop, a priest, a deacon, a married couple, a nun, a monk and two young people who'd been confirmed – knelt and pledged obedience to the Pope. It helped remind me just how diverse the church is, while the more traditional elements of the service provided links to both the church's past as well as its future.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
Looking at Pope Benedict XVI and thinking how tired he looked and contemplating the size and nature of his new role.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
It's difficult to look lost in your own home, so I missed out on this aspect of the Mystery Worshipper experience entirely!
How would you describe the after-service coffee?
Excellent. Fair trade cafeteria coffee made with proper milk, and malted milk biscuits with chocolate on them. The biscuits were shared with Baby Clanger, who had milk instead of coffee.
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
I prefer worshiping with others in a church setting and would have preferred to watch the Mass with other believers, but circumstances didn't allow for that.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes. Seeing the joy on the faces of the crowds of St Peter's and knowing we were watching with millions of others and adding our voices to the prayers. Seeing a service that is as much a part of the church's present as its past and future.
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
How tired and old Pope Benedict XVI looked.