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Roman Holiday

Two old Sailors in Rome

Saturday in Rome

I was chatting with one of the families staying at the convent, and they mentioned they were going to go touring Rome in a car. I remarked that they were very brave to rent a car and to go driving in Rome traffic! No, she told me, the sisters arranged for a car and driver, and he would drive them as long as they wish.

Well, the English speaking sister arranged a car and driver for Kevin and me also. It was raining, but we headed out regardless. We saw nearly all the famous sites, sometimes under an umbrella (it was raining). At the Colosseum, he parked and waited whilst we took the English language tour, which was very informative; but also much longer than what we had budgeted time-wise. The rain had stopped.

We were hungry. So Octavio drove us to a small, family run restaurant (somewhere in the heart of Rome!), where he knew the owner; and where everything except the wine is made in their own kitchen. The antipasti were fine, and I had pasta with portobello mushrooms.

Then it was off to the Churches! We stopped at the Capuchin Church and Crypt, which is amazing as Ground Zero for the Capuchin Friars; a movement to reform the Franciscan Order and return them to their strict and austere ways. The crypt and ossuary was one of the most unusual display of bones I have ever encountered. Of course, and ossuary is a place where bones (having over time been reduced simply to bones) are stored, categorised or otherwise arranged. My first experience of this was in the Crypt at S. Bride’s Church, Fleet Street, London.

At the Capuchin Crypt, however, they have these arranged as 3-D art; telling the story of the Bible and Salvation History. Unfortunately, no photographs were allowed. Some of the visitors thought this all to be rather ghoulish, and I suppose it was. But it had the definite sense of sanctity; silence was automatic, not enforced. And the thought occurred that these were men who had spent all their lives living and preaching the Gospel. In death, their bones still spoke.

Then it was off to Saint Mary Major; an extremely large Church that, inside, drips with ornate gold. It was late afternoon by this point, and upon entry, we found a priest at the main altar, leading in the Rosary. There was a quiet murmur of responses, with the priest’s clear voice ringing out. There were barriers to tourists from entering the Nave during liturgies, but these were generally ignored. We honoured this request, but I did get some good photographs.

The afternoon was moving on, and our driver had a date with his girlfriend, so we didn’t want to get him into trouble. Our last Church was S. John Lateran, the Cathedral Parish Church of the Bishop of Rome.

We saw the Sacred Steps, where penitents climb up the stairs on their knees, reciting prayers as they go. I certainly needed to do this, but my orthopaedic doctor would have scolded me severely had I done so.

Upstairs was a small, ornate papal chapel, and a larger chapel where Saturday night Mass was taking place. After a few moments of silent participation and prayers, we went downstairs where Octavio awaited, and soon we were back at the Convent; it began raining.

Sunday--walking through the Vatican

Sunday was Corpus Christi Sunday, and the Sisters informed us there would be Mass at 0745; but also cautioned Kevin strictly that we were to maintain the Eucharist Fast of nothing to eat prior: “Mass first, then breakfast.” As that is my custom anyway, this was no hardship. It was a quiet, reflective Mass by an Indian priest. Though we didn’t understand the Italian of the Mass or the homily, the Mass is the Mass regardless of the language.

After a leisurely breakfast (Saturday had been like two days crammed into one), and finalising/changing travel plans, we started walking to the Vatican. We got close, but took a wrong turn and ended up walking around the outer wall. We retraced our steps, finally arrived at the gate and walked into S. Peter’s Square, and paused for a moment; just taking it all in. We wandered around, heads up and jaws down. There were enormous crowds, and a queue of about 2 hours to get inside the Basilica.

We finally found the entrance to the Museum, and realised we would have to take a taxi in the morning, as it was on the far, opposite side of the Vatican from our Convent. We found a corner restaurant and cafe, and stopped for some beer for Kevin and some of the house wine for me; the waiter brought out appetizers. Then we walked home, and got ready for Monday.

Monday--up early, pack, race to catch walking tour; train to Naples; dinner

We had to be packed, checked out and at the Museum entrance by 0745. We made all our connections and Marcello was our guide. It was a small group of 12, and he had iPod like devices for us, and his microphone broadcast to all of us in his group. We were one of the first groups in, shortly after 8AM. The gardens were set up with identical stations where individual groups could be instructed in the symbolism of much of the art, and especially the Sistine Chapel

We made our way through room after room of art, and I’ll (eventually) have these up on facebook; really far too much to describe.

Of course, the Sistine Chapel was the star of the show. It was simply awe-inspiring to be in the site of so many significant times in the life of the Church and history; most recently of course for the election of Pope Francis. No photography or speaking was allowed;. I appreciated how the guards kept sushing everyone to silence. We slowly made our way through the Chapel, letting our eyes take in all the intricacies of the art and space.

By the time we reached S. Peter’s Church itself, the throngs were there, and it was crowded and a bit noisy. It was impossible to approach some of the more popular chapels; particularly where Blessed Pope John Paul II is buried.

After the tour, some of us stayed behind for a bit of extra credit time with the Guide, who then pointed us to a place where we could get a good pizza; and we later saw him there as well!

Then it was to the taxi stand and to the convent to fetch our bags, and then to the Termini; central rail station. We hopped on the high speed train and little over an hour later, were in Naples and soon at the Pumphrey’s flat, where we sat on the balcony in the afternoon breeze, and enjoyed Fr Michael and Elizabeth’s wonderful hospitality, complete with pork chops on a Weber grill.

Posted by stbrides 06:36 Archived in Italy

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