Another lighter story. I can hear the comparison’s with the Hogwart’s Express now.
Vatican City, May 12, 2011 / 10:52 am (CNA/EWTN News).- It’s a little known Vatican fact but the Pope has his own train station. Thing is, it’s been dormant for years – until now. May 21 will see a 1930s steam train leave the Vatican City Station for a trip to the Italian countryside. And it’s all to raise money for the Holy See’s official charity, Caritas. [Some readers, less inclined to the Potter Analogy will surely consider that it is portentous that this starts one week after the release of Universae Ecclesiae. Think about it.]
“It’s a rare opportunity and certainly a very joyful way to come together ahead of our General Assembly and reflect on who we are and where we are going,” Monsignor Robert J. Vitillo, head of the Caritas International delegation to Geneva, told Vatican Radio May 11.
The event coincides with Caritas’s 19th International Assembly being held in Rome as well as their 60th anniversary.
It total, five passenger carriages will be pulled by steam engine. The train is being nicknamed the “Caritas Express” for the day and each engine will be dedicated to a particular patron saint of the poor and vulnerable. Seats are still available to the general public.
The day will also see the huge iron gates that mark the border between Italy and the Vatican opened for the first time in years.
And their destination? The historic city of Orvieto in Umbria, about 60 miles to the north of Rome. [The former bishop of the Diocese of Orvieto-Todi was one of the three bishops removed this year (so far) from governance. Portentous.]
The Vatican City State Station was built under the Lateran Treaty of 1929 which normalized relationships between the Holy See and the Italian State. When he saw it under construction, Pope Pius XI described it as “the most beautiful station in the world.”
Pope Pius XI never traveled on the line himself and his planned papal train was never built. It was Pope John XXII who became the first pontiff to travel on line, using the Italian presidential train, in 1962. He made the trip between the Vatican City Station and Assisi. Pope John Paul II also traveled on the line in 1979 and 2002.
In the past, emergency relief supplies have also been loaded at the “Pope’s Platform” onto special Caritas trains for delivery to flood victims in northern Italy and elsewhere.
The Caritas Express will pull out of the Vatican State Railway Station at 10 a.m. on May 21. It will return to Termini Station in Rome at 7:30 p.m.
Anyone interested in making a donation and wishing to request a seat on the train should email firstname.lastname@example.org
How do you get to the track? For the Hogwarts Express you have to run at a spot in the wall at Paddington… No! King’s Cross. The bear… thing… Pope Benedict’s coat-of-arms… also portentous. But since people have been battering themselves against the walls of the Vatican bureaucracy for years, that seems an unlikely method.
Once you get to Orvieto, is there a free transfer for the funicular railway to get you to the top of the town?
Is there a club or dining car?
Is there any connection between the moving of the offices of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph – and the inevitable shift of the Vortex – and the opening of the Vatican’s railway doors?