I arrived back in Rome this morning and Fiumicino Airport was anything but welcoming. I have no idea what a first time visitors thought because the wait in line for passport control was one hour! I have no idea how long it took for the multitudes behind me in line!
I spoke to a family from New Jersey waiting in line behind me, and said I only had one guess as to why it was taking so long. I told them August is the biggest months of the year for vacation time for Italians and the biggest holiday of August, perhaps the whole year, was this coming Wednesday, August 15, feast of the Assunta, the Assumption. I said I could only surmise that airport personnel were taking their sacred vacation time this week and, as we got to the booths where a fair number of agents usually make lines move at a good pace, I saw I was right. There was 1 (one) agent for European Union and Swiss passports and 4 – a mere 4 agents! – for the non-European Union passports. Hundreds and hundreds of us were standing on line as several planes from overseas had landed almost simultaneously.
A separate line and separate agents’ booths greeted visitors who had to present or get a visa to enter Italy. Snails move faster than that line did!
I did see signs that said that children under 14 years of age, thus, whole families with young children, had a separate and expedited entry. Sounds like a terrific idea.
I have to say that the idea of being so short-staffed at a critical time of the day for plane arrivals and critical time of the year for vacationers coming to Italy is inconceivable to me. I have been wondering all day: Will the shortage become even more critical on The Big Day – August 15?
The only positive side of my wait was that, for the first time in decades, my bag actually arrived at the carousel before I did. I always make sure I have a book to read when I wait for my luggage at Fiumicino!
PAPAL AGENDA FOR WORLD MEETING OF FAMILIES IN IRELAND
The Holy See Press Office has announced Pope Francis’ schedule for his upcoming apostolic visit to Ireland for the World Meeting of Families, August 25-26.
That journey begins on Saturday morning, August 25, when he departs Rome and arrives in Dublin at 10:30.
Official Welcome and Visit with Civil Authorities
The official welcome ceremony will take place at the presidential residence in Áras an Uachtaráin at 11:15, followed by a courtesy visit to the president. At Dublin Castle, Pope Francis will meet with civil authorities and members of the Diplomatic Corps at 12:10.
Visit to the Cathedral and a Homeless Center
In the early afternoon, Pope Francis will visit Saint Mary’s Pro-Cathedral and greet those gathered. He will then go to the Capuchin Fathers’ Reception Center and will visit a number of homeless families in private.
St. Mary’s Pro-cathedral:
Festival of Families
The Holy Father will conclude his day with the Festival of Families at Croke Park Stadium set to begin at 7:30.
Croke Park Stadium:
Visit to the Shrine of Our Lady of Knock
On Sunday, Pope Francis will travel to Knock to visit the Shrine and recite the Angelus.
Holy Mass in Phoenix Park and meeting with Bishops
After returning to Dublin, Pope Francis will preside over an afternoon liturgy at Phoenix Park after which he will meet with the bishops of Ireland in a convent of Dominican Sisters.
Following a 6:30 pm farewell ceremony, Pope Francis will depart for Rome where he is expected to land at Rome’s Ciampino airport at 11pm.