Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Great Gotham Road Show

In the morning, 34 metropolitan archbishops from across the globe will receive the pallium from the Pope on the solemnity of Ss. Peter and Paul, the patrons of Rome.

That said, guess who brought the party to town.

Detroit might have over 100 pilgrims for Archbishop Allen Vigneron and some 40 St Louisans made the trip with Archbishop Robert Carlson, but the "spiritual conga line" following the archbishop of New York runs closer to 300.

(Just wait -- when the red hat comes, the over-under's already set at 10,000... and smart money says "over.")

Returning to the city where he held court for seven years as "the ultimate host" -- officially, rector of the Pontifical North American College -- it's Tim Dolan's first appearance in the Urb since his appointment to the "capital of the world"... and so it seems, the Pope's man in Midtown is making the most of it.

From the ground, the Daily News' Joanna Molloy sends a dispatch:
Dolan played pied piper to nearly 100 New Yorkers and others who followed him through the streets of Rome on an impromptu - and hilarious - walkabout [tour]....

Dolan's audience, many of whom traveled from New York City, Ireland and Dolan's hometown of Ballwin, Mo... turned to leave [after Mass in St Mary Major].

But the jovial, outgoing cleric in his vestments and bishop's miter, called out from the altar: "It's a beautiful day! It's about a 45-minute walk back, but that's what I'm going to do if anybody wants to join me!"

About half did, and what a time they had.

"This is the Trastevere neighborhood," Dolan called out to the group as it wended its way through cobblestoned alleys, pointing out the super-secret nooks and crannies.

"It's got so many great places to eat, but watch for pickpockets! It's not as safe as New York!"

"Hey! Let's go across the Tiber," said Dolan, who lived in Rome for years as a young priest. Stopping on the ancient bridge, he pointed north.

"See that big circle in the archway? When the water rose up to there, Romans knew the river was about to flood and it was time to flee."

The cleric then asked the modern-day pilgrims, here to see Pope Benedict honor him in St. Peter's Square Monday, "Should we all stop for ice cream? No, be strong, be strong!"

He continued the tour.

"Every piazza has a painting of the Blessed Mother in glass in one corner," Dolan noted. Stopping in front of an obelisk built on a giant carved elephant, he added, "There are nine obelisks in Rome, so remember them. I'm giving a pop quiz at the end."

Dolan so exulted like a lark with his flock and passersby that we expected him to poke his head into taxis and start talking to the drivers.

"Hey, I've been looking for these hats!" Dolan exclaimed to one street vendor as he grabbed a white straw fedora. He refused one pilgrim's offer to pay for it, forking over 20 euros.

Then he immediately held it out, "I'll pass the hat to pay for it!"

"He's never known a stranger," said Sister Rosario from Missouri. "I've known him for 40 years."...
"He's charismatic," said young lawyer Natalia Murphy, whose husband Daniel Murphy, also a lawyer in Manhattan, added to the pilgrim look, hobbling around on crutches.

"I tore a ligament, but had to come anyway."
In another report, Molloy wrote that the tenth archbishop was kicking around the idea of writing a blog.

Sure, that'd be lovely... as of last report, though, Dolan was still trying to figure out how to get these pages into his morning briefing.

PHOTO: New York Daily News