Roma, Wednesday, 10 Sept
On Wednesday we started the day be visiting the Church of Saint Clement. It’s an interesting church in that it is actually a church built on ancient byzantine church, built on the sight of a “home” where the Eucharist was first celebrated. The home is also next to a ancient pagan temple. This one site reveals a synopsis of the history of the Church and of Rome.
From there we went off to St. John in the Lateran which is the Cathedral of Rome. It is here that St. Francis came to see Pope Innocent III and who approved the Rule and Life of the friars. This oral approval of the Rule of St. Francis was given in 1208. This year is our 800 anniversary as an Order.
We then went to the Spanish steps to look around and for a late panino for lunch.
That night we met up with some of the same friends I saw in Assisi who were now in Rome. They got caught by the failure of Zoom Airlines and were waiting to find a way home to Canada. It was good to see them and we enjoyed a nice meal at Da Mario.
Roma, Thursday, 11 Sept
Today we walked to the Trevi fountain for this remarkable work of art and water! I had to visit my father’s favourite gelato store for some kiwi gelato. It was pretty good. A couple of years ago, when I was here with some youth I was able to take my nephew Tony to this same gelateria!
We then walked to the Capuchin church of the bones! It’s a church that has a crypt full of the bones of friars arranged in various decorations and positions. It’s quite gross in my opinion. They did this supposedly because there was no room for them in the cemetery. I don’t know, it just doesn’t seem right.
We also visit St. Mary Major, another one of the great Basilicas of Rome. There we saw some people in strange outfits… like out of Alice in Wonderland. It’s a pious association known as the Heralds of the Gospel. They were these very elaborate uniforms with knee-high leather boots. It almost looks like a Mel Brooks take on religious life. Very strange… and not a very happy looking group of people. Then we made our way to the Catacombs of St. Calista where we had a tour and celebrated mass. We prayed in a special way for all victims of violence on this 11th of September.
Fr. George gave us an amazing tour of St. Peter’s Basilica. We had headsets so that he could speak softly and could hear him. The church was quite full of people and so it was difficult to move about at times. No matter how many times you go there, it is always impressive to visit that church, if alone for the size! The beauty and majesty are amazing. Fr. George pointed out many interesting facts including the tombs of Queen Bridgit of Sweden, who abdicated her throne to become a Catholic and the tombs of the Royal Stewarts who were also Catholic. We also got to see the tomb of Blessed Pope John XXIII which was moved up to the main floor of the basilica for easy access of the faithful.
We had lunch at a local trattoria and then some time for shopping at the religious shops around the Vatican.
In the afternoon we had wonderful visit of the Scavi. These are the excavations under and around the tomb of St. Peter. There the archeologists found a necropolis, (above ground cemetery) where people came and prayed at the tomb of Peter. It is in this place where they found human bones of a man. It is presumed they are those of St. Peter, but there is no way to be sure. It was quite fascinating.
That evening a couple invited us for dinner at Da Fortunado, a nice restaurant near the Pantheon where the U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney had dinner the night before. It was very generous of our hosts and we had a really nice meal.