I first met the Archbishop when he was just Monsignor Broglio, one of the Priest-Secretaries to the then-Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Angelo Sodano. My seminary class was in Rome for a pilgrimage during Christmas of 1996, and one of the Priests who accompanied us was classmates with Msgr. Broglio at the Pontifical Gregorian University. One evening during the trip, Msgr. Broglio took us on a tour of the public rooms of the Apostolic Palace. We saw it all: from the Bronze Doors, past the statue of Constantine up the Scala Regia stairs, into the Sala Regia, and into the Sala Ducale. Absolutely amazing. But two parts of the tour were, in particular, the "kickers":
- We were walking through the Sala Ducale, and honestly none of us were looking out the windows since we were so busy looking around the rooms we were being shown. So at one point, Msgr. Broglio stops, pulls a huge floor-to-ceiling curtain aside, and says, "and THIS is the central balcony of St. Peter's." Here we were in the spot where the Popes not only appear at Christmas and Easter, but standing in the spot where they all passed following their elections. I found some photos I took of the moment:
- As we were walking back from the central balcony, Msgr. Broglio waved at a maintenance man as if to say, "have a good night". The man walked over, said something in Italian to him, and Msgr. B. turned towards us and said, "Oh, this is neat, I wasn't expecting this. Follow him and I'll be right with you." With that, he walked away, and we followed the man to a closed door. He reached into his coat, pulled out a set of keys, opened the door, and gestured for us to go in. There we were, only 17 of us, in the Sistine Chapel. We had it all to ourselves, and what I remember was the quiet. All of us were shocked into a stunned silence as we looked at the walls and ceiling. Now I've been in there a few times before whilst visiting the Vatican Museums, but there's always a crowd and always noise. This time it was all ours, if only for 10 minutes or so. Sorry, no pictures allowed in the Sistine Chapel.
So that's my Msgr. Broglio story. Following that trip he eventually because Apostolic Nuncio to the Dominican Republic and to Puerto Rico, and now he becomes the spiritual father to our Catholic military personnel. Ad multos annos! Thanks again for the tour.