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The Pope's Potty


Several years ago if people wanted to see the Catholic Pope during the summer, they journeyed to the small town of Castel Gandolfo where sits the Apostolic Palace, the Pope's summer residence. There is a short street leading to the Palace lined with tiny restaurants, bars, shops and an imposing public building.

Some friends and I travelled by bus to the little town early in anticipation of an audience with the Pope at 3 PM. Only about 300 people are admitted to the Palace interior courtyard to see the Pope appear on the 2nd floor balcony above the stone-paved cloister.

We arrived early enough that we had almost 6 hours to wait. We ate lunch at one of the restaurants, had a few soft drinks at one of the bars, looked into the shops and then sat on some public benches to wait. We had noticed that there were no restrooms in any of the public spaces we checked out. That was a most uncomfortable realization when I became aware that I would not be able to maintain my dignity if I could not quickly find somewhere to relieve my discomfort.

The large public building across from our bench attracted my attention and I decided there would be a restroom in that place. I rushed through the large open door, looked to my left and saw another door and practically dove through it.

Across from that entrance was another smaller door and somehow I just knew that my problem would be solved when I entered that one. There was no one in the large room so I sped across to the little door. Ah such relief when the little room turned out to be the very one for which I was in urgent need!

Very soon after entering that wonderful place, I began to hear rather loud voices in the outer room. The voices were all male, as far as I could tell. Several tries at entering my sanctuary were made but luckily the lock held. Of course, I realized that I would eventually have to exit, but I kept hoping the voices would disappear as the gentlemen left the room. However, that did not happen. What to do? What to do!

Gathering my courage, I quickly opened the door only to realize that I was indeed now in a room full of men - all in various stages of undress - changing from secular clothes into priestly raiments! I don't know who was most surprised and mortified - me or the men - all of them PRIESTS getting ready to officiate at the same audience with the Pope I had been waiting for.

I couldn't miss the horrified, astonished, disapproving, angry, embarrassed faces on these men of the cloth as I sped from that room as fast as my short legs would carry me!

I don't how often these priests have told that story themselves, but I can tell you that I have "dined out on it" myself many times - always to gales of understanding laughter!

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