This one will be long but there pictures and everything! I just the best two days in Rome and did things that never usually happen!
First, Tuesday the 11th. It was the 35th anniversary of my holy Baptism. Thank you Mom & Dad, thank you to the priest who baptized me and all glory to the Holy Trinity.
In the afternoon we visited some amazing churches. First up, Santa Maria sopra Minerva, one of only two gothic churches in Rome and housing the relics of St. Catherine of Siena under the main altar and the body of Fra Angelico in a side chapel.
Not bad. After a short tour and a visit to the Blessed Sacrament all the men did 30 minutes of mental prayer together in the main area of the nave. O how the Lord did speak to me and how full my heart was to be able to be an little apostle in this city, to strive to be holy in this city – fiat!
After prayer I gave the men an hour of time free to explore the church, visit other churches or the area nearby. I had a lovely walk with another priest and was able to visit the church where St. Aloysius, my home parish’s patron, is buried and pray that he intercede for my holiness. He died before he was ordained a priest and I have always felt that my priesthood was, in part, his and that I must live up to it. Next year I will live only two blocks way and hope to say Mass at his altar frequently.
We all came back together in good spirits and hopped the #8 to the Trastevere district to visit first
Santa Maria in Trastevere, one of the oldest churches in Rome.
Obviously also one of the most beautiful as the ancient mosaics are still well- cared for and and preserved in this church with a very active parish life. Again, we toured briefly and then had 45 minutes to visit the church privately and to pray. I knelt down with great peace in my heart as I prayed my Rosary while looking at the huge image of Jesus & Mary there in the central apse. To dwell in that heavenly land with such beauty of heart and soul and image. The mimic, no, the incarnation of that beauty on earth so well reflected in this church is beautiful and good and true. How much more will the reality be! This thought can only spur one on to be a better Christian and do a better job of serving one’s neighbor.
Providentially, as our time was ending all the church lights came on and the gold of the mosaic came to brilliant life! Mass was about to begin and it was a providential way for the visit to end with the glory of the heavenly representation lit like Heaven. Praise God and all those who worked and sacrificed to keep this church bright.
Then it was off to Santa Cecelia in Trastevere, the church built over the tomb of that great saint. I had never, in 12 trips to Rome, been to this church and cannot figure out why. It is a baroque beauty built around an ancient temple to the glory of God and His saints!
Just beneath the high altar is the famous sculpture of the saint showing the way they found her when they opened her tomb, serene, beautiful, a saint.
It was a beautiful a moving place to pray, but the best was yet to come. I found one of the sisters who keep the church and with a little smile and some bad Italian she opened up the crypt and we all went down to be as close to the saint as we could.
The lights were a bit too bright but the chapel was simply beautiful all pointing to the tomb and image of St. Cecelia looking up to the image of Our Lord Jesus Christ. We chanted Vespers together in the chapel and then had time for silent prayer. During this time I prayed for some of the young women I know who are seeking God’s will and was filled with such grace and consolation for one of the in particular – laus Deo!
Hey, look who I found on my way out of the crypt!
I love you Agnes and always will – keep a spot for me in glory!
After all this we let the boys loose for dinner in the Trastevere. Frs. Kime and Mahar and I went out to a little place and enjoyed pizza and conversation. At 9 pm we all met in the square in front of Santa Maria in Trastevere, had a little gelato, watched a fire dance and both took a picture and was in about 40 other people’s pictures – nothing like 34 roman collars out at night for a little tourist scene. Then we walked home, happy and sleepy.
Today was pretty good too – classes and then a trip to the Vatican Museum. It was the first of an numb of near miracles.
First, we were ticketed and inside the museum 50 minutes after we left the front door – huge since the walk alone is 30 minutes. Second, we go the group counter with no reservation, just two letters a smiling priest and a cheeky Irishman. In short, ordinary prices: €16to enter, €3 for headphones. We paid €4 to enter and €1.25 for headphones. Boo-ya-ka-sha!
More to come. Fr. Kime and I left the group and took long way to the famous clerical store
Barbiconi, my favorite. We took the train to the Piazza Barberini where Fr. Kime spotted an cafe. We had a little tea (I had caffe latte) and chatted while the world went by. Then we walked to the Palazzo Quirinale and down, down the streets to the great Gregorian University, past the Casa Santa Maria (where I will live next year) and down the Via Santa Caterina to Barbiconi which was, sadly, closed.
So down to the bus stop. Fr. Kime wanted to stop in the store Ghezzi, a church stop at the end of the street where more wonders were found. Now, the famous Roman church store is Gamarelli. They sell birettas for €50, I had checked them out the previous day. I check out the birettas at Ghezzi – better material, better cut, better stitching. Cost: €37. What! There’s more. I was checking out a rack of vestments and find a great surplice with lace for €86. Why so cheap? Part of a larger set made for the Sagrestia Pontifice (that means the Papal Sacristy) and was not taken to St. Peter’s. Original price: €170. Something rarely found in Rome, real deals!
Sorry for the church nerdery but it was fun. Also, I also have a new surplice, which they sold to me for €80 but not a new biretta. We came back to CIAM, got cleaned up, had dinner, get-together, Rosary, Complime and getting to bed ready for a new day.
O felix Roma!