National Catholic Reporter:

What did they come to see?
By Rita Larivee,  SSA

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These photographs, taken over the course of one day, attempt to capture the scene at Vatican City as Catholics throughout the world discern the meaning of these events. Between now and the election of the next pope, National Catholic Reporter will provide additional photographs as they become available.
The walls outside Vatican City became home to many.  The scene was as a marketplace, but without the vendors.  The city shops were open as usual, but unlike the typical opportunity that would present itself for those selling their wares, it seemed as if everyone knew the moment represented something far different.
People stood for hours carrying their baggage, but did so as if it had no weight.  No pushing or unreasonable congestion; it was a moment to cherish and remember for a lifetime.
And for the tired, it was acceptable catch some sleep wherever you were.
Regardless of the location upon which a bed was made, if it wasn't in the way, everyone was OK with letting folks get a few moments rest.
And for others, taking a quiet moment to study a map was also possible amongst the multitudes that had gathered.
Staircases become seating venues.
And some chose to pray following the traditions common to the area.
For others, there were priests available to offer a listening ear for comfort, forgiveness, or spiritual healing.
But as with all gatherings, the physical nature of our human reality also needed attention. The green water bottle became a welcomed sight.  Free for the taking, water bottles were available continuously to everyone and anyone needing to quench their thirst.
Stocked multiple rows high, the water trucks continued to replenish the symbol that permeates so much of the church's tradition; whether it be the woman at the well, John the Baptist and the baptism of Jesus, or the washing of the feet and the washing away of sin. 
The water was there for the taking.
But should you happen to be walking along one of the paths that led to the Basilica and unaware of the availability of the water, there were those who distributed it to everyone passing by.
NOTE:  This photograph presentation has been divided into multiple parts.  Click on the link to the right for more.
For more, click here.
Copyrighted 2005 The National Catholic Reporter Publ. Co.
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