Reclaiming St. Peter's For Prayer

Benedict XVI thinks people should be able to pray at St. Peter's, so there have been a few rule changes. The biggest one is that tour guides have to speak into microphones that broadcast into "whisper set" headphones you pick up at the entrance of the Church. A little frustrating for those wanting a tour, but great for pilgrims. There's also a strict no-tour (for groups) rule after 4:30, so the 5:00 daily mass takes place in peace and the evening is dedicated to prayer. Writes Elizabeth Lev in Zenit's daily dispatch today,

The result is a thorn in the side for guides, but a joy for the faithful. St. Peter's is quieter than it has been in years -- even when cruise-ship companies disgorge thousands of tourists at once in the basilica. Instead of the din of explanations of this sculpture or that architectural marvel, there is a steady but low buzz of sound throughout the church until 5 p.m. when the choir washes away the day's business leaving prayer and praise in its wake. These changes are part of Benedict XVI's desire to reclaim the basilica for the faithful and to enhance their experience of prayer and meditation in the church. Now in St. Peter's there is not only an atmosphere to pray but encouragement to do so.