Rome 2007: January 2007 Archives

Day Eleven

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Day 11 was Sunday January 7th, In Italy the feast of the Baptism of the Lord. We made plans to go to Mass at 6:00pm at St. Catherine’s Church of San Domenico. Today was going to be a bit of a Dominican day for Sr. Mary Mark. This was also the day we had a booked a tour of Siena and San Gimignano with one of the areas’ famous guides.

We slept in and came to breakfast about 8:30am. There at breakfast in the hotel was another family and after a while we figured it was not Italian they were speaking. It sounded more like Spanish. Later when we spoke with them we discovered they also spoke perfect English. They were from Costa Rica and were in Italy to bring their daughter to a language school.

After Breakfast we were met by our guide in the Lobby and began a walking tour of Siena and all the sites associated with St. Catherine. She explained a bit about the ancient neighborhoods in Siena, the contradas, and also about the ancient horse race that is still held every years, the Palio. This explained all the colors in our neighborhood and the decorations on all the lamps. She took us by that ugly Duomo and explained a bit of its history. We elected not to go in this time. In the main square, the Campo, she showed us pictures of how the horse race was celebrated in the Square.
She also a little bit about St. Bernardine of Siena and the insignia that was seen all over Siena and even on City Hall. Especially known for his devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus, Bernardine devised a symbol—IHS, Iesus Hominem Salvator, in Gothic letters on a blazing sun. This was to displace the superstitious symbols of the day, as well as the insignia of factions or contradas. The devotion spread, and the symbol began to appear in churches, homes and public buildings. We visited the Church associated with the life of St. Catherine, and we also toured the site of her home that has been turned into a shrine. After walking back an forth across old Siena it was time for lunch and we stopped at one of the many bars in the city that serve sandwiches and refreshments.
After lunch we went to get our car and drove the 30km to Sam Gimignano. This was a bit like stepping back in time and walking through a medieval city. Here a light misty rain began to fall. We stopped in a variety of shops.
I think it was here we became pretty determined that next time we came to Italy we would have to find a place where we could do some cooking. I bought a bunch of spices for some Tuscan dishes, and even a small bottle of some of the new olive oil. After a tour of various sites and churches, we drove back to Siena and took a little break before Mass. Thanks Viviana, for such a marvelous day.

We walked over to San Domenico for the evening Mass. We felt right at home as the ladies prayed the Rosary before Mass. Mass in Italian is not too bad. The homilies are a bit rough when they last a long time and this one did. After Mass we made our way back to Duo Parte for dinner. I believe it was here that we converted Sr. Mary Mark to grappa. It was another fine feast. We then retired because tomorrow was going to be another long day.

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Day Ten


Day Ten was January 6th, The Solemnity of the Epiphany. In Italy this is not transferred to the Sunday and it certainly looked like it might be a Holy Day of Obligation. Because the Mass yesterday had been so beautiful we decided to try it again. This time we would go earlier so we could get all of Morning Prayer before Mass. Either because it was a Saturday or because it was a Solemnity there was no public celebration of Morning Prayer. So we just enjoyed the silence. But then the bells started to ring. The Bells were incredible. It was such a beautiful, marvelous sound. It was clear that it was a major feast. After a bit more silence we began to hear the swish, swish of many feet in the old stone church. It was a rather large youth group entering the church and filling all the spaces, and much to the humor of my companions two young men with guitars sat down on the steps only a few feet from where I was sitting and proceeded to discuss with two priests what they would do for the Mass. Ok, well, it was clear that we were not going to get the beauty of the previous morning, but we certainly got the fervent singing of these two. Mass began, but it was not the entire flock of Franciscans as the previous morning, just three or four concelebrants, and they all seem to be somehow attached to this group of young people. Mass proceeded well. It was celebrated in Italian. One song we recognized as Silent Night.

After Mass we headed back to the other side of Assisi for our third breakfast at Gran Café. The proprietor there was getting used to us and was generous in his hospitality. Afterward we headed back to the Guest house to check out, load the car and get on the road to Siena. That is the reason that there are no pictures from this day as it was another travel day.

The first adventure of the day was buying gas. We lost 20 Euro in a machine that took the money but did not dispense gas. On the highway we found a station that was staffed by people who pumped the gas and were a bit more successful there.

The drive to Siena was uneventful, but the arrival into Siena was an adventure. We did not really have a good map, and I was going by memory on the directions that were somewhere in that bag that we contributed to the Italian underworld. We did a complete circle of the old city at least once, asking for directions at least three times. Finally one police office said to look for the San Marco gate and that seemed to help. Once inside we saw signs for the Hotel Duomo. That did not stop the penchant for going around in circles because we came upon a point that clearly we had been to before, but the Hotel was not to be found. We retraced our steps a bit more slowly and discovered that the entrance to the Hotel was simply a doorway. The sign for the hotel was inside the doorway. There were no signs outside that indicated that we were at a Hotel. The other thing was parking. We were, after all, in a narrow medieval street with traffic and there was no place to go but to get to the left as far as possible so we could park and unload the car. We were to discover that our very modern hotel was in a building that had originally been erected in 1148.

After getting checked into the Hotel, and getting the car to the place where the hotel has parking, we proceed to find lunch. We happened on a place a few doors down from the Hotel called Duo Parte and we dined there for several hours. It was to become a favorite place and we would dine there twice more in our short stay in Siena.

After lunch we walked down to Il Campo, the central square of the City. On the way we stopped into the Cathedral, the Duomo, which for all practical matters is really a museum that occasionally has religious services. First of all the Cathedral is incredibly overdone. I think the word we used for it was “ugly.” The four of us would agree that it is probably the ugliest church we have ever seen. Also it was just a bit offensive to have to pay to enter a church. The Il Campo was more entertaining. The local fire department was having a festival in the square and it was crowded with people. The kids were led up the fire ladder so they could jump on to the giant cushion below. In another part of the square they could operate a fire hose to put out a “fire.” We did some shopping in the nearby shops and I purchased a bit more from the pottery collection. It was generally a carnival atmosphere. We walked over to St. Dominic’s to check out the Mass times for the next day, a Sunday, and then went back to Duo Parte for Dinner. This time the place was jammed by a crowd of noisy young people. Later we returned to the hotel to retire for the night.

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Day Nine


January 5th was supposed to be a quiet day, a time to relax and enjoy our surroundings. We got up early and in the darkness drove to the other side of Assisi so that we could attend the conventual Mass in the lower basilica. Before the mass we were treated to the chanting of the friars for Morning Prayer. In the quiet of that holy place, Mass was solemn and peaceful. After Mass we drove back to the guesthouse and then walked up the hill for our second morning at the Gran Café. After breakfast we split up for the morning with plans to meet at Il Monachi for Lunch at 1:00pm. Sr. Mary Mark was going to take a relaxing morning writing post cards, but first decided to join me for a visit to the Tomb of St. Clare. The Crypt was not yet open so we went to the side chapel to pray before the San Damiano Crucifix, the one that spoke to St. Francis. In the front of the chapel were three young men who looked like they were praying from the Liturgy of Hours. As I was sitting there praying some psalms by heart I was looking forward to the coming Monday when the calendar would return to Ordinary Time and I could use the Breviary again. As I was getting up to leave I noticed something familiar about one of the young men, and sure enough, they were the same seminarians from Louisiana that we had met on New Years day and had spent hours together standing in the darkness waiting for the Basilica doors to open. They had come to Assisi as well. So we made plans for them to meet the rest of us for lunch.

The rest of the morning was quiet and peaceful. I visited a few of the churches in Assisi, or just sat and watched as the town and the tourists went by. I also purchased some ceramics for my Sister and for the Rectory and had them shipped home.

Day9a.jpgAt 1:00pm we all met at the Pizzeria Il Monachi and proceed to eat as if we were regulars to this Italian Feasting. We were the first customers to arrive at the place. The restaurant eventually was full. We were also the last customers to leave the place. It was great food and great conversation. There is great hope for the future of the church when men of this caliber respond to the call of God to serve him in the priesthood. It was also quite affirming for me when they began saying the same things as I have been repeating to our parish team. The seminarians were Bryan and Todd from the Diocese of Baton Rouge and Travis from the Diocese of Mobile. Three hours later we paid our bill and left. It was incredibly inexpensive for a feast of seven people.

After Lunch our small group drove down to San Damiano and the shrine at Rivotorto. After that we retired back to our guesthouse. We had diner there that evening because the major task now was to pack for the trip to Siena in the morning.

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Day Eight

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Day Eight was January 4th. That evening we stumbled upon an Internet Point and so I have already posted a preliminary report on that day. This would be the day to visit Giano del Umbria and the Abbey of San Felice. The picture below was taken in the summer of 2003.


This was supposed to be a day to sleep in a bit since Mass would be at the Abbey later in the morning. Still, it seems, I was on California time and was still waking up pretty early. I created my own Office of Readings and Morning Prayer out of the Ordinary Time Breviary I still had, and then joined my traveling companions for a walk up the hill for Breakfast at Gran Café. We had discovered this little place the night before and were to make it our place for breakfast for the next three mornings.


Then we drove over to Giano to visit the Abbey of San Felice. There are really no words to describe this sacred place. The chapel is built in the 4th century over the tomb of the 4th century Bishop/Martyr St. Felix. The 8th-9th century church still reflects the style of that time with the Altar in a sanctuary that is over the heads of the congregation down below.


The attached Abbey is from the 12th century and was used by the Benedictines and later by the Augustinians. It had been abandoned when we received in 1815. The Abbey was confiscated from the CPPS during World War II and only recently and slowly has the congregation received it back. There are still parts of the Abbey that have not been restored. Fr. Luciano showed us some of the newer sections recently restored and they are quite beautiful.

The Tour of the Abbey also included a visit to the modern painting of St. Gaspar that is a favorite of mine.


There is also a favorite portrayal of the Madonna in the upper floors. This painting is probably from the Benedictine period as it is dated 1494. Since I have posted a picture of this to my blog before, I have seen it make its way around the internet.


Everyone who visits San Felice gets their picture taken in front of the Statue of St. Gaspar.


After a little tour of the place we retired to the crypt chapel where we celebrated the Eucharist. It is always a special treat to return to the birthplace of the congregation and it was a special joy to celebrate Mass there that day.


After Mass we headed up the hill to Ristorante Rifugio San Gaspare.

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As expected it was a fabulous meal. We were seated near the open fire and as we arrived he took some of the dough he was preparing and placed it on a large round stone in the fire. After several minutes we had the hot bread on our table along with some of the local agua frizzante and a very rich red wine.


Then he was serving some olives with orange and garlic, followed by meats and cheeses, and then this little lentil mixture over bread and sausage. This last little dish had such a remarkable taste that Donalyn immediately set out to find out what was in it and how to make it; then came the pasta tartufo.


Then we had a little Gnocchi con fungi at which time the activity around the fire became somewhat intense as the mixed grill began sizzling behind us. We were served grilled lamb, chicken, beef and rabbit along with some delightful sausages that they had made themselves.


Afterwards we were served salad, gelato with espresso, and then some delightful after dinner drinks. I was still trying to introduce my friends to grappa and was slowly gaining a convert in Sr. Mary Mark. We are also served some limoncello which seemed to be standard fare in Italian restaurants, but here we were introduced to a remarkable liqueur that we had never tasted before. It was incredible and we made sure we got pictures of it and knew how to find it when we got home. So far we have not found any store who knows of this or knows how to get it. We have found it on the Internet, but there seems to be no way to order it. It is called Eliser Gambrinus. They served it right out of the freezer and it has a taste I would find difficulty describing.


After that remarkable meal we wound our way back down the hill and after a brief stop at the Abbey we got back on the road to Assisi. Back at the guesthouse some took naps and others of us took a walk which was when we found the Internet café. It was amazing to spend about a half an hour there for the equivalent of about 40 cents. Then we met for dinner at the Pizzeria Il Monachi which was becoming our favorite place in Assisi. We had said that after the marvelous Pranzo we would never need to eat again, but it is funny how that opinion changes around dinner time. Dinner time or Cena in Italy is late and restaurants don’ even open until about 7:30pm. After Cena we headed back to the quest house and retired for the night. It had been another long, rich and grace filled day.

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Day Seven


day7.jpgMy memory sometimes fails me. Also I was being extra careful since the first day mishap. So after Morning Prayer I was a bit frantic because I could not find my passport. I searched everywhere. Finally it dawned on me that the nuns had collected all our passports when we registered.

So, somewhat relieved I made my way downstairs to the chapel where the sisters were chanting Morning Prayer in Italian. I found a nice quiet bench in the back that had a heater under it. The time for Mass cam and went and no priest had arrived. After about 10 minutes I offered, but I am sure that sister did not understand a word of my English. Finally the priest arrived and Mass was celebrated in Italian. After breakfast we enjoyed the brilliant morning sun in front of the guesthouse and spent some time taking pictures. Then we took off for the Basilica of St. Francis. We started with the lower basilica and visited The tomb of St. Francis.

These Italian churches are a bit overwhelming for people who are used to our little church in Newark. We took our time and saw just about every square inch of the place. Next we went upstairs and took in the upper basilica. About half way through that experience we had a bit of a scare when Sr. Mary Mark could not remember where she had put her purse. I got a bit of exercise walking down the hill to our car where I discovered her purse in the back seat. We went back to the Upper basilica and then proceed to walk through the town of Assisi. Some of the shops were quite captivating. We had pranzo (lunch) at "Il Monaci." The name of the restaurant means "the monks." It did not seem anything like a monastery, but the food was excellent. We had it on good authority that this was the best pizzeria in the world.

After lunch we did some more walking through Assisi. There were any number of shops selling Ecclesiastical and liturgical vesture and appointments, but in my opinion, things looked a bit cheaply made.

Later we took the car down the hill to Santa Maria degli Angeli and to the Portiuncula. It is always a joy to visit this place of grace.

Later we returned to our guesthouse for dinner and then retired. We had done a lot of walking that day and were pretty tired.

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Day Six

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Day Six was January 2nd. New Year's Day was beautiful except for that horrid dinner we could not stop talking about. Today was the day to travel North, and oddly enough, looking through our pictures we discover that only one picture was taken that day. The Day was to begin with some comedic frustration. Before starting this trip I had secured an International Driving Permit because the Car Rental agency told me I needed one. The Embassy told me that if I went to the Auto Club near Termini they would provide me one. So after Mass and breakfast we got on the Metro and headed for Termini. Quickly we found the Auto Club, but they would not provide that Permit because there was no stamp in my passport that indicated I was in the country legally. I tried to explain that it was a new passport, but the fact was that none of us had our passports stamped at the airport when we arrived. It was extremely frustrating, They tried explaining but their English was limited. So we caught a taxi to the Embassy. Surprise, surprise, the Embassy is closed. That little first day robbery was going to upset our plans after all. We decided just to try the Rental agency, and we were relieved to find out they only asked for my passport and my California Drivers License. With all that done, we drove to our Villa, gathered our luggage and got on the road.

Diving in Rome is an adventure. Driving out of Rome is a puzzle, but we made it on to the Autostrada and headed north. When we got on the highway, my friends dug out of my knapsack some of the CDs I had purchased in Rome and proceeded to provide some music for the journey. One of the CDs was the music in Latin of the Roman Rite and caused a great deal of discussion and reflection on the trip. So much so, that we missed our turn. We turned around and headed in the right direction but soon enough we missed our turn again and found that we were taking the long way to Assisi via Perugia.

We kept going but soon I saw a road sign that indicated an exit for the little town Bastardo. This was a place familiar to me from previous trips and my reaction to the sign would provide my traveling companions a great deal of comic relief over the next few days. We took the exit and soon found our way over the hills and valleys of Umbria. We came up the back side of Castagnola and the little shrine of Madonna del Fosco and came to the Abbey of San Felice. From there we traveled up the hill through very narrow roads to Rifugio San Gaspare at the top of the Mountain. We discovered the Ristorante there was closed, so we made our way back down the hill to a little hotel that was open in Giano. It was a late lunch for us, but no less satisfying as we experienced a traditional Umbrian pranzo. After lunch we went back to San Felice and roused Fr. Luciano. He was surprised to see us as he was not expecting us for another two days. We assured him we would be back, but I got permission to show my friends around this birthplace of the Congregation.

After San Felice we were back on the Road following Fr. Luciano’s directions through Bastardo, Foligno and on to Assisi. We took another wrong turn here that had us heading into the narrow streets of Assisi from the back instead of the front. After a few stops to ask directions we found ourselves at the guest house run by the Sisters of St. Brigit. My notes tell me we got registered, took a nap, had dinner at the Guesthouse, took a walk, and then on to bed. I do not remember much about that night except the fact that I was very tired.

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Day Five

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day5a.jpgDay five was New Years Day. We did not stay up to greet the New Year the night before, because this morning we were to up bright and early. Yep, it was “O Dark Hundred” as we used to say during Simbang Gabi. We were very early to St. Peter’s, in line by 7:00am. The doors would not open until 8:30am so we had an hour and a half to witness how Romans and tourists make lines. The front of the line got wider and wider as late arrivals wanted to get prime spots in line. Most amusing were the ones who set up camp near the Colonnade, only to spring to the front of the line as soon as the doors opened. This whole flock of nuns joined us about an hour into the process, never speaking to us, just joining us at the front of the line, even thought the line had extended all the way around the square. Anyway, there we were at the front of the line in the darkness of this cold Roman morning, and guess who else was there? We seemed to always be running into these seminarians from Louisiana. They are delightful young men, in the fourth year of philosophy and a whole group of them making a Christmas pilgrimage to Rome. We all enjoyed the conversation. Some of them were from The Diocese of Lake Charles. One of them said he was there praying for a bishop for his Diocese. I shared stories of the time I taught at Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish School in Lake Charles back in the mid ‘70s. I think I was their age at the time, having just graduated from college.


The gates opened at 8:30am and we all made a mad dash for our seats. This time we hoped to be as far forward as we could and we hound four seats in the second row. There were some French speaking young people who eventually made their way up to the front, and even thought they did not have seats, they made their presence felt. One of them unfurled a French flag when the Pope processed in, and he also draped himself in the flag when he knelt to receive communion later. The Mass was beautiful. Most beautiful was the singing of Mass IX. Here is the Pope’s homily for that morning.



After the Mass we all crowded into the Square to receive the Urbi et Orbi Blessing of the Holy Father. First we had to do a group picture of all those seminarians from Louisiana. Then it was time to eat.

day5e.jpgWe were fast becoming accustomed to Italian eating, long leisurely lunches with Anti-pasta, Pastas, a Second course, Salad, dessert, grappa and limoncello. After lunch we headed back to our Villa and took a nice nap.

day5f.jpgAt about 6:00pm we took a taxi to St. John Lateran, determined to catch up on the sight seeing we had missed on the first day. This was the beginning of hearing my companions recite this mantra for our facilities manager back home. Donalyn text messaged him saying, “be afraid, be very afraid.” You see, we would see Crèche scenes all around Rome, and I could be heard to say, “hmmm, we could do this.”

It was hard to believe, but we ware hungry again. It was after 8:00pm and all the Roman Trattorias were opening. We walked down the Boulevard to see what we could find. We happened on this little Pizzeria called Makkarone. Our first clue should have been the wine. It was terrible. The food was terrible. Stan’s Lasagna was dry as bone, and I am not sure what sort of pasta I had. It was the worst meal of the trip. When we got back to our Villa we determined that we could not end New Years day that way. Our favorite Pizzeria was pack, but across the Piazza was this little Bar-Café, the kind that is popular in Rome. We ordered a bottle of wine and they brought by some little bruschettas. It was a pleasant way to end the day.

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Day Four


day4a.jpgWe stayed at a little place called Villa Lituania and across the street was the Parish Church of San Antonio. This being Sunday morning we slept in a bit and went to the 9:00am Mass at the parish. It was the Feast of the Holy Family and after the homily they had a little blessing for Married couples and what appeared to be a renewal of vows. The big church was also freezing inside. I always wondered how they heated these cavernous churches. The answer is, they don’t.

After Mass we caught a taxi to St. Peter’s and did some shopping and browsing in the little tourist shops near the square. My daily bible reading had lapsed a bit since my bible was stolen. I was making do with the one Ordinary Time Breviary that I had left, but it was not the same. I was looking for a bible that might replace it, but nothing I found was very satisfactory.

Then we made it back to the square to witness the Angelus message of Benedict XVI.


Before the Angelus, we called Fr. Stephen Lopes from the Square and asked where he was. He was with some friends watching the Angelus from their balcony overlooking the Square. After we described where we were, they caught sight of us and we dutifully photographed their waving.


After the Angelus, We waited in the Square for Stephen and his friends to join us, and then we trotted off to another favorite restaurant, Quattro Mori. There was no menu, only the choice between Meat and Fish. We chose Meat and then were treated to a feast of several appetizers, three pastas, and then a platter of grilled meats. Fr. Stephen and his friends were quite entertaining with stories of seminary, life in ministry and life in the Vatican. Fr. Stephen is Cardinal Levada’s secretary and one of his friends is a teacher at the North American College.


At about 3:00pm, we finished this grand feast and headed back to the Square. It was time to get in line for the Vespers that would start at 6:00pm. The doors would open at 4:30pm. When we arrived there was already a large line that began circling the square. One Author describes St. Peters Square as part religious experience and part circus. Our wait was a witness to this experience. At long last the doors opened and we made our way into the Cathedral. The goal was to get as close to the center aisle so we could get good pictures of the Pope. Tomorrow we could get some seats closer to the front. Soon after 6:00pm a cry went up from the rear of the Basilica as the Pope was sighted. It was a stately procession, but in many ways Benedict was treated as a Rock star coming into the arena. It was a beautiful and prayerful service. I was a bit disappointed in the Te Deum. I had hoped it would be a chant that I would recognize and be able to sing. Instead it was a choral rendition with a congregational refrain. Still it was a pleasure to bring the old year to a close in such a way.

Here is what the Pope said at the Vespers. After the Vespers the Pope made a visit to the crèche in the Square. In the crowd outside we met some seminarians from Louisiana. They were delightful young men and we would end up running into them twice more on this trip.

After the Angelus we made our way to our favorite Pizzaria for a light supper and then back to the Villa to bed. We would greet the New Year on the following morning.

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Day Three


Day3.jpgDecember 30th dawned crisp and cold. We celebrated Mass in English at 6:00am in the Villa chapel because we were being picked up at 7:15am. This was the day of the great tour. The four of us had book a private tour of the Vatican and of Rome. It was amazing to be in the Sistine chapel early in the morning with very few people there. The past times I was there it was very noisy and crowded, jammed with people. Now I was impressed to see the floor as well as the brilliant frescoes. We also had a tour of the Vatican museums, and it was amazing to walk through those quiet halls with only our guide. From there we saw the inside of St. Peter Basilica. It seemed very crowed, but that was because the chairs were set up for the New Year events and there was very little walking space available around the edge. The visited the old forum, the Campidoglio, and Teatro Marcelo and then the Church of San Nicola in Carcere.

This 15th Century crucifix is in a side chapel of San Nicola in Carcere, and before this Crucifix on December 8, 1808, the newly ordained Canon Gaspar del Bufalo preached the initial sermon at the event that inaugurated the Pious Union of the Blood of Christ.

From there we went to lunch at a delightful place that had an open fire where the food was prepared with great delight. It being a cold day, we sat near the fire. After lunch we went to the Catacombs of St. Callixto. There we entered the catacombs with other English speaking groups and in the process discovered some friends from a former parish who were also on pilgrimage.

Afterward we had our driver drop us back at St. Peter Square. We had to go to the Bronze doors to secure our tickets for the New Years Eve Vespers and for the Mass on New Years Day. Then it was off to home for a little Pizza and then to bed. I felt like I was coming down with a cold. After the Christmas celebrations and then the travel and then the full experiences of these few days, I was feeling a bit run down.

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Day Two


day1.jpgThe day dawned crisp and cold. I was up early, still a bit on California time, though I had eight hours of sound sleep. I was in the chapel at 5:30. Our hotel was a place run by German nuns and they have a lovely chapel. Mass was at 7:00am in Italian. That was not the first time I had concelebrated at a Mass in Italian, but it was the first time I had taken part of the Eucharistic prayer. After A quick Italian breakfast we introduced ourselves to the Metro and made our way to the American Embassy. Two hours later I had a new passport. Our itinerary plans were changed by events. We saw nothing of what was planned for the day, but we saw plenty. Since the embassy was near the Trevi Fountain we went there so that we could go to Santa Maria in Trivio which is where St. Gaspar is buried. The pictures taken this day were on Donalyn’s camera. That is a picture of me standing in front of the Church. After a visit to his tomb we set out for St. Peter Basilica. The lines were huge and since we would have other opportunities we did not go in. We made our way to Piazza Navona and walked a bit until we came to one of my favorite restaurants near the Pantheon, “La Sagrestia.” We had a marvelous Italian Pronzo, the first of many to come. My traveling companions took very quickly to this very Italian way of eating. We then explored the Pantheon, and then Sopra Minerva where we visited the tomb of St. Catherine of Siena. From there we walked to the Collegio Romano where Gaspar was a student, and then to St. Ignatius where he often worshipped. Across from St. Ignatius is a the spot where the police station stood where Gaspar refused the oath to Napoleon and was taken away to prison and exile. We then walked to Piazza Venezia where we entered the Church of San Marco where Gaspar served as Canon. After that visit, it now being dark we hailed a taxi back to our hotel. We took a little break before dinner and I walked up a block to Appia Nuova where I found a camera shop and very soon found myself the new owner of a new digital camera, one much better than the one that was lost. We celebrated for a second night at our now favorite pizzeria, and then retired for the evening, because the next day was going to be long.

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Day One

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We left San Francisco Airport in the afternoon of December 27th, and arrived late evening in Rome on December 28th. We were exceptionally tired because the overseas flight was exceptionally noisy, kids running around, one of whom screamed into my ear has he passed my aisle seat, waking me from a sound sleep. On arriving and gathering our luggage we walked to the train station and got our tickets. The train was crowded and we hurried off the train and were immediately surrounded by a whole bunch of people. In the blink of an eye, one bag disappeared. We were robbed before we even got to the hotel. There will be no pictures from this day as one of the things in the bag was my camera and all the pictures on it. We walked the two blocks to our hotel, got our rooms, walked up to a police station to make a report, and then had a meal of pizza, wine and eventually good Italian Grappa.

The trip had gotten off to an unsettling start. Missing was a leather bag , my journal with all my Advent/ Christmas reflections, my camera, my laptop, my bible, breviary, psalter, passport, precriptions, and all the plans and reservations for the trip.

I was determined that it should only be a moment in time, that it was not to determine the future, and that we would still have a great pilgrimage. All in all, we suceeded.

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I'm Home

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I am home, I am tired, exhausted really. But still exhilarated by the trip and the memories. I bought a new computer today. I am working at the moment at my secretary's computer since mine is still in the process of being set up. As soon as that is done, the pictures may begin to arrive.

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We have a four hour layover here. Airport food is terrible, but otherwise things are fine. We should be back to San Francisco later tonight. The time listed on the blog will be on Pacific time, not London time. It is currently about 12:20pm here. We had a great trip. It was a joy and honor to preside at Mass in the Basilica of Santa Croce in Jerusalem, concelbrated by Don Marco Kirby, O.Cist. The Mass, celebrated in a spot where St. Gaspar was also brobably a celebrant. St. Gaspar preached 10 lenten retreats, 10 years in a row for the monks there.

Sadly, the trip is coming to an end. It was a great pilgrimage with many blessings. The coming days will feature reports and some pictures. I took nearly 1200 pictures so it will not be possible to share it all.

Blogging will continue when I get home.

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We are having a wonderful time! I have taken nearly 600 photos, some of which will be shared on my return. I got some great pics of Benedict XVI, and met some delightful people in the Piazza waiting for New Year's Mass to begin.

We are dining our way across Italy. The Food here is Fabulous. AND!!!! Guess where we ate today? RISTORANTE RIFUGIO SAN GASPARE!!!! It was only my second time dining there, and it was beyond expectations. Can you imagine having a variety of antipasto which featured pancetta, olive, prosciutto, cheese, and a marvelous little lentil mixture over bread and sausage, and bread that they baked on the fire right in front of us. Then it was on to the pasta which featured their specialty, Tartufo, and then a little gnocchi with more mushrooms. That was finished off with the main course of a mixed grill of lamb, beef and sausages. Finally there was a little green salad, and then gelato (YES!!!) and caffe. Then he served some grappa and another after dinner drink that was indescribable. This was for five people and was only Euro 125.00. And we haven't had dinner yet.

I will go on a diet when I get home.

Probably the most significant thing today though, was to celebrate a quiet Mass in the crypt of San Felice, the spot where St. Gaspar founded the Missionaries of the Precious Blood in 1815. It is only the second time I have had the honor, privilege and joy of celebrating the Eucharist in that holy place.

So, blogging will continue when I get home, or until I stumble on another Internet point. I may arrive home to give you a day by day journal of the events. They have been fabulous.

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  one of Fr. Keyes' photos

August 2012

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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Rome 2007 category from January 2007.

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Rome 2007: February 2007 is the next archive.

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