Recently in Rome 2008 Category

Good bye, Rome


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It was a great trip, very restful. The last day started early. Security, passport control, etc was all designed to make us feel very insecure. Other than that it was an uneventful trip. It was good to be home.

The last few weeks have been pretty hectic with some significant funerals and then the start of School. It almost does not pay to be away when the piles of mail get so high in the absence. Rome is one of my favorite places and I hope to return there before long.

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Day 12


Last full day in Rome. Biggest task today is to figure out how to get all this stuff into those suitcases.

The Sunday bells at the Vatican are the best. It is clearly a joyful sign. They start ringing at 9:30am and continue for a half hour. I now do something similar for 10minutes prior to the weekly solemn liturgy, much to the annoyance of the parochial vicar.

Today we celebrate Mass in the chapel of the house. Then we went off to the beach where we had a marvelous pranzo. The fish was wonderful.

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The rest of the evening was like this: Nap, packing, vespers, packing, dinner, packing. I did not want to go home.

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Day 11


I figure it is about time I finished this little journal.

Day 11 was the beginning of my last weekend in Rome. I had been to St. Peter and St. Paul, so it was about time for me to visit the other major basilicas, St. Mary Major and St. John Lateran. These are also significant sites on any Gaspar tour.

St. Mary Major

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Just around the corner from St. Mary is a little church called Santa Prassede. This place has some marvelous mosaics. It also has the relic pillar of the scourging. It was in this church that Gaspar's parents were married.

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About two blocks from Santa Prassede is the Carmelite Church of San Silvestro and Martino. It was here where St. Gaspar was baptized. The font is still there along with a marble marker commemorating the occasion.

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From there I walked leisurely up Via Merulana toward the Basilica of St. John Lateran. It was here that St. Gaspar was ordained to the Diaconate. The place was jammed with young people. It was during World Youth Day and the Roman young people who did not travel to Australia gathered for a rally here and were watching a live feed from Australia.

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I need a sign like this for our church:

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Because of the crowds I did not stay long at the Lateran, so decided to head down the street to visit Santa Croce. I am standing waiting for the light, when I catch sight of someone across the street who looks vaguely familiar. As he crosses the street toward me I recognize Don Gennaro, our former Vice Moderator. He was out for a walk since this is not very far from our House at Via Narni.

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Santa Croce is where the relics of the Holy Cross are kept. It was here that St. Gaspar made his retreat before his ordination. His uncle was a monk of this congregation, and Gaspar preached the Lenten retreat there ten years in a row. It seems the monks were selling the fruits of their large garden while I was there.

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While walking back to Lateran I decided to look for the Makkarone restaurant where we had our worst meal on New Year's of 2007. I discovered that the restaurant was no longer in business. We were thankfully never to have a meal like that in Rome again.

I made my way back to the Vatican and did the last of my gift shopping in a bookstore near where I was staying. Then Steven decided to take me to one of his favorite restaurants. It is a place called "Tony and Dinos" and it was a short walk from the Vatican. There were no menus. Steven just said, "Do what you do." They over did it. We were so full that it would have been impossible to down a main course. Well, they made sure not to let us leave until we had downed two grappas.

When we got home it was time for a Solemn High Nap.

There was not need for food the rest of the Day. Late afternoon saw the evening news on the BBC, vespers, some reading and then off to bed, apparently not without taking some more pictures.

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Day 10

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This one was an early morning, Matins and Lauds in the waning darkness, and dressed and ready to go by 6:45am. This morning we headed to St. Peters to celebrate Mass at the Clementine Altar, right above the tomb of St. Peter and below the High Altar. The Swiss Guard clicked their heels and saluted as we passed by, and the Vatican Altar boys were a wonder as they competed with each other to get me dressed in Amice, Alb, cincture, etc. To have this kid waiting patiently by my side to put the chasuble on me was a rare sight. Mass was celebrated for the intentions of the people of St. Edward. There was a distant cacophony of voices wafting through the marble corridors as various groups at various altars were celebrating Masses in the crypt.

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After Mass we retired to a little coffee bar across the street from the Vatican for some coffee. Then I spent some more time in the Basilica and the square taking pictures. In the square I saw a man taking a picture of his family with a camera just like mine. Passing by I noticed they spoke English and we compared notes on our various cameras. I ended up taking a picture of his family with his camera, and he snapped a picture of me with mine. In the Basilica, I was able to spend some time at the tomb of John Paul II before the place got crowded. I also purchased a few more gifts in the Vatican gift shop for the people back home.

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Next I headed over to Teatro Marcello and the Basilica of San Nicola in Carcere. It was in his apartment at Teatro Marcello that St. Gaspar died. At San Nicola he preached at the foundation of the Arch-confraternity of the Precious Blood on December 8, 1808, an event for which we celebrate the 200th anniversary this year.

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The sacristy:

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San Nicola there was an attendant who was offering tours of the crypt. It was a great explanation of the foundations of the place which was built in the early centuries on the ruins of three Roman Temples. The pillars are seen in the walls of the Church, but the foundations of all of the other pillars are visible in the crypt. The blue outlines the area of the church.

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Also in the crypt are the remains of an early byzantine chapel. He said that the Madonna in the Church was found there and removed in the 1800s and placed in the upper Church. It is a favorite image of mine. I have photographed it many times. He was amazed to see that I had the image on my Blackberry.

The image once was part of this early Byzantine Chapel:

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The image now hands in the upper church. This picture was taken of the image before they covered it with protective glass:

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This was the stuff of pilgrimage. This place figures significantly in the beginnings of our community. Here is the crucifix before which Gaspar preached the memorable sermon on the foundation of the Arch-confraternity.

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After touring San Nicola in Carcere, and spending some time in prayer there I took a walk through the surrounding neighborhood. The place is very different than it was in Gaspar's time, having been altered considerably by Mussolini. I took a picture of Teatro Marcello where Gaspar died, and the Church of San Angel in Pescherria where his funeral was held.

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Back home we had a delightful Pranzo, Sausage, and peas with Pasta, and plenty of the finest local vino. This was followed by doing dishes and requisite siesta. At lunch we pondered the significant difference between a siesta and a Solemn High Nap.

I must have had some opportunity for afternoon picture because the collection this day includes my favorite picture:

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Later in the Evening we chanted Vespers and headed over to another favorite Roman eatery. These are places without menus. All we said was "Do what you do." I think Steven referred to this place as "Mama's" although that is not the name of the place. She did mother us. She place a few simple antipastos on our table with Water and wine, and then she wheeled up a cart with eight more and two different kinds of bread. It would have been enough for a full meal, but we also had a main course of Meatballs served with chicory. There was no room for dessert, which she was not happy about.

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Day 9


This is the day I woke up to a ton of emails on my blackberry. The nicest one was "OMG, what happened to your blog?!"

yesterday I had tried to post but it would not let me. Come to find out that it posted three times, but they were not complete posts.

RC had taken up migrating everything over to MT4. He has too much time on his hands. Anyway I am grateful that he put the blog back together. That funky modern set of tree graphics was just not going to cut it.

Today I did not take any pictures, just a few shots of the dawn.

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Then a simple day:

  • Early Lauds and Mass
  • browsing through various shops
  • purchasing gifts for friends and co-workers back home
  • simple lunch
  • Drive to beach
  • enjoy the Mediterranean
  • sleep on Beach
  • Vespers
  • Great dinner, Bruschetta, Cacio e Pepe, Beef with Gorgonzola, yum, great wine and company.
  • a very restful day
  • to bed early
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Ok, let's be clear. The main highlight of the day was to be able to celebrate Mass again at San Felice, the Abbey where St. Gaspar and companions founded the Missionaries of the Precious Blood in 1815. That is always a privilege and an honor.

We also visited my favorite Restaurant, and I think that most of the pictures will be from there. Yep, did not have my camera in hand during the Mass.

I slept in today. I was surprised when I rolled out of bed as late as 6:00am. But then I did not set an alarm. We were not going to do Morning Prayer until 8:30am so had plenty of time to wake up, get cleaned up and chant Matins.

We skipped Mass this morning because the plan was to drive up to Giano and celebrate Mass there before heading off for the finest pranzo on earth.

Well, traffic was going to be the story today, both to and from Giano. The reasons were unexplained in the morning, but it took nearly an hour just to leave Rome. On the way home it was an accident. But the hour and a half trip turned into about 3 hours both directions.

So we get to Giano late, and of course, we were not permitted to celebrate Mass because they were all at Pranzo. So we were told to come back at 3:30. So we headed up the mountain to have Pranzo first.

After we finished we had plenty of time to have a reasonable fast, and Don Luciano was waiting for us when we arrived. He even stayed around to concelebrate with us. We did a lot of Latin, so he had an easy time. He stumbled a bit with the English parts.

After Mass it was the long trip home. We were pretty tired. Did some watering of plants, washing of laundry, but basic relaxing with a few books was the story for the rest of the evening. There was no dinner as lunch was pretty substantial.

I suppose you were wondering if there were any pictures:

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They do not start baking the bread they put on your table until you get there:

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Kathy, too bad you were not there. Your favorite: bruschetta.

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Then the pasta:

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and mixed grill:

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Taking our leave. We met there an older diocesan priest from the region and his friend from Colorado.

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Then back to San Felice:

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St. Felix whose tomb is here. Also St. Benedict as this served as a Benedictine Monastery for centuries.

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The sacristy:

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Detail from the sacristy:

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My favorite depiction of the Madonna, is up on the second floor of the cloister:

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My favorite image of St. Gaspar is just around the corner. The Madonna is from 1494. The St. Gaspar is a modern 20th Century depiction.

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Don Luciano waves arrivederci:

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Time to turn out the lights:

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Day 7


I have to say that I miss the beautiful dawn each morning in Rome. Each day had its own special beauty. I think that it was because it was so new and special, to be able each morning to see dawn breaking over St. Peter. Alright, the dawn here at Rifugio San Gaspare each morning quite beautiful, and maybe I have gotten so used to it. Well, those two weeks in Italy have taught me to appreciate these mornings here as well. At any rate, I did not take any picture of the early morning on Day 7.

It was an early morning as usual, chanting Matins as dawn break, and joining in the chapel to sing Lauds and Mass. After breakfast, I took in another early morning inside St. Peter to get some pictures of the light streaming in.

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One picture that I hoped to capture with my new lens was a shot of the Holy Spirit Window.

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Today, I had tickets to the Scavi Tour. This is maybe the fourth or fifth time I have been down in the excavations under St. Peter. Each time is a little different, but each time is always an affirmation of faith as we visit the tomb of St. Peter.

We came out after the Scavi tour near the tomb of Pope John Paul II. I really have no doubt that one day we may officially name him as St. John Paul II, the Great. With this in mind, I handed one of the Petrini my Precious Blood Chaplet that I carry in my pocket, and he laid it down on the tomb. I was impressed with the way he would do this very reverently, spending just a few seconds in reverent prayer, before lifting it up and handing it back to me. I have no doubt that one day I may consider this chaplet in my pocket as a 3rd class relic of this great saint of our time.

I met this newly married couple from Kansas who were in Rome on their honeymoon. This was Tuesday and they had only been married two days. I asked her if she had a rosary with her. She produced it from her purse. I told her what I had done with my chaplet and encouraged her to do the same. He took off his scapular and with the Rosary handed it to the Petrini. They were quite thrilled with this little addition to their vacation and wondered how I would have come up with this. They asked if I was a priest and I admitted I was a Pastor from California. They asked for and received my priestly blessing on their marriage.

Later, I headed over to the Blessed Sacrament Chapel in St. Peters, and spent a holy Hour there, praying the Precious Blood Chaplet.

During the early part of the afternoon I was introduced to some of the more reputable shops near St. Peter, a bit farther off the tourist path. While doing this I ran into the newly married couple from Kansas having a typically Roman Pranzo in the sidewalks cafes of Rome.

After a nap and some reading, we prepared another typical Roman/American BBQ: Steaks, Pesto Spaghetti, roasted Zucchini, and plenty of Scotch, wine and grappa.

It was a cool night, and there was no need for the air conditioner as I drifted off to sleep.

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There are some people who think our Paschal Candle is too large....

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Day 6

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Monday July 14th had a beautiful dawn.
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It was a very full day. The day broke early and Matins and Lauds were chanted alone today. We were all off to different places for Mass. I had the outstanding honor of beginning the day with Mass for the Missionaries of Charity who serve the poor and the hungry who are near the Vatican. Mass was in English. The sisters were from India and from eastern Europe.

I thought this morning was part of God's divine sense of humor. So I am to preside at Eucharist and preach a short homily to Mother Teresa's sisters and the Lectionary gives me this as the Gospel text:

"And whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones to drink because he is a disciple- amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward."

After Mass I headed over to St. Peters, right next door, and took some pictures in the quiet and empty basilica.

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After a restful walk through the Cathedral, there were some pilgrims attending various Masses in the early morning and the place was very quiet, I headed over to this little coffee bar near the Jesuit generalate for some breakfast. On the way I noticed this little Romanesque church was open.

This Church is completely surrounded on three sides by this building. The Building is home to a few Vatican Dicasteries, Congregation of Saints, the Congregation for Legislative Texts, as well as home to a few cardinals. It is not a parish, but apparently it was given by John Paul II a to serve as an International Youth Center. It was very quiet while I was in Rome because all the Youth were in Australian for Word Youth Day, but today it was showing a little life and I got to go inside and look around. It is beautiful inside, and very peaceful.

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After breakfast it was off to the Liturgical Candy stores:

Gammarelli is a famous store. They make the cassocks and the vestments for the Holy Father and they traditionally have the ready the three cassocks for a newly elected Pope. I purchased my cassock from them in 2001.

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This store is is near the Sopra Minerva Basilica that is the tomb of St. Catherine of Siena. It is also very near the Pantheon. There is, alsong this street, many little shops that have priestly or liturgical items. There were some specific things I was looking for and I went to each store about two or three times. I found an ostensoria at Barbiconi that was reasonable, and there was another store that had a small stand for it.

I already had about four of my shirts from Barbiconi. They were purchased in 2001 and are beginning to show some signs of wear. Today I purchased three shirts, as well as an Alb, a surplice, cinctures, a few icon gifts, as wells as the ostensoria.

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This all made for a very full morning. Also in the midst of this morning I was beginning to get some news from home. One parishioner in assisting the set up for one of the Masses inadvertently had knocked over the paschal candle. The Candle sits on the top step next to the Font, and fell toward the congregation, down three steps to the floor. The Candle shattered into a thousand pieces, the solid brass follower had a severe dent, the bobeche was folded in half, and the candle socket was broken cleanly from the stand. It is pretty expensive to replace a custom candle, but replacing the brass parts was very expensive. It was probably providential that I was in Rome.

We went to lunch at Ristorante Polese, a place near Chiesa Nuovo I had been to before. and then head home for a little nap. In the afternoon we were to go to St. Paul Outside the Walls for a little pilgrimage, and I will share pictures of that in the next post.

After the pilgrimage we came home for a Pot Roast dinner, and then we all retire for the night.

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Day 5

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Oh, the bells! You can tell it is a Sunday in Rome. All the Church bells in the vicinity ring their bells. There are a lot of churches in the vicinity. The high bell, the one on the left, rang continually for about 15 minutes. The sound was beautiful and fitting for the specialness of the day.

There was just the few of us, but lauds and Mass were chanted together. As usual, it was simple, beautiful and simply beautiful.

After Mass we headed off to Scarpone for Pranzo. Great lunch, great wine, but I think it was the dessert that gave me a buzz. It was a rum soaked dessert, and I do mean soaked.

After lunch we took a long walk through the largest landscaped park in Rome, the Doria Pamphili gardens.

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We did some touring of other ecclesiastical sites but the skies were threatening rain so we headed home.

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After heading home it ewas time for a nap. When it was time for supper, there was no need for food as lunch had been pretty substantial.

As night fell, the local parish of Our Lady of Mt Carmel had a procession. The Carmelites put on quite a show.

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I went to bed about 9:00pm but was awakened at 11:30 pm by some loud noises. I went outside to enjoy a bit of the light show before returning to bed.

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Day 4


Another Roman dawn:

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It was a Saturday so the liturgy was from the book of Masses for the Virgin Mary. We did the Votive of Mary, Help of Christians, the patroness of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood.

What else can I say about this day? There was a nice long walk; I bought too many books, a visit to a Roman Grocery store, and the most delightful Pork Sandwich from a sidewalk café. This was followed by a very long nap and then by preparations for an evening BBQ.

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It was a wonderful evening. The night was beautiful. It was immediately noticeable when the sun dipped behind St. Peters and the air became very calm and cool. There was a lot of shop talk too be sure. My only comment is that the difference between the Vatican and the local parish is hardly noticeable.

Except for the view:

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Day 3


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It was Day 3, if the 9th was the first full day in Rome. Ah, Roma. There is a bit of secretiveness about these reports simply because I was traveling to Rome alone. Here I was making connections with various members of my community who wish to remain off my blog, and also visiting some connections in the Vatican Dicasteries. Much is made of the secretiveness of the Vatican, but all that is descendant from a singular belief in human dignity and the rights of individuals whose cases are before these dicasteries. So none of these personages will be revealed; but only my own personal activities as a pilgrim.

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This morning, a Friday, we chanted Lauds in English, and then Mass in Latin, ordinary form. There was a simplicity and a beauty to these liturgies during the weeks I was in Rome. Not much else could be said.

This morning after a Roman breakfast, I walked back across the Tiber and purchased that leather journal I had seen on the previous day. There has been nothing close to what was taken from me. My old leather Journal had been with me for more than 20 years. It was a part of me as a layman, and then a seminarian and then a priest. It had been around the world with me, to the top of Clouds rest in Yosemite National Park all the way to the top of Mt. Sinai. It was the singular stain on the leather left by a camel in the Sinai desert that made the journal particularly dear to me. All of this is memory, and I guess, after nearly two years I am still mourning the loss of that treasure. The journal inserts now fill two full file drawers, and there is a three month period in those journals that is lost because it was part of that robbery in December of 2006.

At any rate, there is a new leather journal. This one was purchased in a little shop in Rome. The former one was purchased in the 80's in San Francisco when I worked for an Insurance Company. It fits the little notebooks quite well and even has a few extra pockets for notes.

Couple more of God's creatures crossing the Tiber:

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Today I started looking for Ostensoria, the small kind for small chapels. We now have a very nice monstrance for the Church, but I had the idea of acquiring a small ostensoria in Rome for the small chapel, so that in the Fall we could promote longer periods of Eucharistic Adoration in the Small chapel, without tying up the church calendar. Well the first shops were not fruitful. This question kept popping into my head: Is this worthy to bear and present the Eucharist for adoration? Well, no! Most of what I saw was so cheaply made, and the prices proved it. So nothing else was purchased today.

I had a lovely and gracious tour of one of these Vatican Offices. Most of what I saw will remain on the hard drive, but I thought I could show you the fountain in the courtyard without giving too much away.

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After another delightful Roman Pranzo and a long nap, we then took a long walk. One of the sights was the Church of St. Charles Borromeo on the Corso. The back of the church was an inspiration, all those pamphlets on various articles of faith in Italian, English and other languages. This is a place that has adult faith formation as a priority. It picked up several examples and may make use of them here.

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Dinner was delightful. The company was delightful. The food, well... The Aglio e Olio was too hot to eat, and for the secundo I had little pieces of grilled fat with a bite of lamb attached. The dessert was lovely, but it is not a restaurant I am inclined to return to on my next trip.

Long walk home, Compline chanted in the darkness, early to bed.

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  one of Fr. Keyes' photos

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