A pilgrim's diary

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Simon Hill, university lecturer, 35, travelled to Rome for the funeral with his girlfriend, Eleri Griffiths, a graduate student, also 35, from Newport, south Wales.

Simon Hill, university lecturer, 35, travelled to Rome for the funeral with his girlfriend, Eleri Griffiths, a graduate student, also 35, from Newport, south Wales.

Monday 4 April

Eleri's birthday. My plan was to take her shopping and buy her some shoes. But then I had a different idea. I said, 'How would you feel about going to a funeral for your birthday?' She said yes. We're both from religious backgrounds: Eleri's father was an Anglican canon and she grew up in a vicarage. My grandmother was a devout Catholic, who used to lead pilgrimages to Rome and Lourdes. We both have strong religious feelings, though we don't go to church - I make my religion up as I go along; Buddhist philosophy comes into it, for example.

Wednesday 6 April

Flew to Rome's Fiumicino Airport at 6am. The city was full, but we found a chalet in a camping site in Fara Sabina, half an hour from Rome by train. I've brought a small, metal box with me that I want to leave here: inside there are mementoes from my grandma, and two poems I wrote about her. I don't know where I'm going to put it, but when I find the right place I'll know.

Thursday 7 April

We didn't think we'd be able to see the Pope's body because last night they closed the queue. But we turned up at the Vatican today and were able to join the queue, halfway up Via della Conciliazione, quite close to St Peter's. We waited for a couple of hours and got in at about 5pm. It was very moving. Lots of people were crying; a few people were getting a bit prickly. We stayed in the basilica taking pictures for a couple of hours. The number of people and the outpouring of emotion were amazing. I found the perfect place for the box: with other mementoes, among candles in the piazza outside St Peter's. I feel my grandmother would have been happy with that.

Friday 8 April

We skipped the funeral and looked around Rome. We return home on Sunday.

Comments