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Yesterday, Rome filled and flooded with those who had come to see Pope John Paul II  beatified. Not wanting to fight the crowds at the Vatican, I went instead to the Circo Massimo, one of my favorite spots in Rome, where you stand in the shadow of the majestic Palantine ruins. Two large screens had been set up to watch the proceedings, the ground in front of them blanketed with pilgrims. It was a far cry from Rome’s birthday celebration just a little over a week ago in the same space. There was a palpable silence and peace that seemed to be pressing from above and rising from underneath, so that even the clicking of my camera felt shattering. What struck me most about my time there though, was not the proceedings going on, but a small old gypsy woman begging on the sidelines. I watched her, followed her, circled her, as her hand pleaded for mercy. But, hardly anyone gave. Most shielded their eyes from her, looking up, looking down, through. Here was a gathering of people to watch and celebrate the making of one who is now “Blessed,” because of the “miracle” he performed in which a woman was saved. And yet,  here was a woman right in front of them who needed a little saving of her own. Imagine if each of the 1.2 million people who came to the city had simply given her a dollar. Together, they could have all made their own miracle.


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