The ploy to keep us out — if that is what it was — was thwarted by Heaven. A dark raincloud passed over. The heavens opened. The police — not in on the plot — took pity on the children waiting in line and waved them all through, and us with them. We’d have been delayed a fatal ten minutes otherwise.
We dashed past the Swiss Guards and joined the group of journalists just as it was marched briskly off up the south flank of St. Peter’s and round the apse to the Vatican Gardens.
We entered the Cottage by the garden door and found ourselves in a tall room with a dazzling marble and stucco ceiling painted in restrained, elegant hues.
We waited for a few minutes there. Behind us, La Stampa was demanding to photograph Ban Ki-Moon, and the London Times was murmuring into its cellphone that [catastrophic global warming] skeptics had been allowed in. The Vatican press officer who had cleared our credentials jumped. He was visibly startled that we were there, and expressed astonishment that we had succeeded in getting in.
Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you.