Rome 2007: February 2007 Archives

Day 14


Day 14

Its was January 10, 2007. I think it was dawning on us that our time in Italy was short and there was much to see and do even as tired as we were. We had been having some pretty full days. This day was to be no different as this was the day to experience the excavations underneath St. Peter.

Anyway, chiefly to Stan’s influence we decided not to make the two day journey to San Giovanni Rotondo. So if that was the case, there some reservations to cancel. Necessary information was lacking because of the stolen bag so we decided to stop at an Internet Café after breakfast and look up the information for the Hotel. We had Mass in English at 7:30am, breakfast at the Villa, and then walked down Via Tuscolana and stopped into a nearby Internet Spot. We got the information and made the call, but no one there spoke English and so we could not cancel the reservation. We walked over to Via Narni where The CPPS Italian Province has their headquarters. There we got Don Gennaro to call the hotel and cancel the reservation in his perfect Italian.

On our way to Via Narni we stopped at the Church of SS. Corpo E Sangue di Cristo.


This is a relatively new parish run by the CPPS in Rome and they have some interesting art there. We took some pictures fairly quickly as it looked as if they were preparing for a funeral. Then we walked over to the Colegio to see the CPPS House at Via Narni.

Their chapel has an interesting beauty to it. I have been there several times for a variety of events and it kind of grows on you. Yet, I still describe it to my friends as pretty violent art.

Much more attractive is the large fresco in the dining room of the meal at Emmaus. We would be coming back here for dinner in the evening.

After this tour we headed over to Santa Cecilia in Trastevere. Sr. Mary Mark’s baptismal name and name on her passport is Cecilia.

Then we went over to Santa Maria in Trastevere where the Community of San Egidio is centered. On the way we stopped for a gelato. We found at the church a very interesting and beautiful and very large Ambry for the Holy Oils. My companions made sure I got pictures to show the workmen here at the parish who built our Ambry. This church also had some pretty impressive mosaics.

Then we headed over to the Vatican.

First we stopped for some light refreshment at a local tourist trap. The food and drinks there are about twice as expensive as some of the Restaurants we had been going to. Here we just had a pizza and some wine and juices.

We had some time to kill so we browsed through the Vatican bookstore and got some stamps and cards at the post office. Then we waited for the Swiss Guards to let us pass to get to the Ufficio Scavi. I have taken the Scavi tour at least four times before and it is always a memorable part of the trip. I recommend it everyone who comes over there. Of course, they do not allow photographs. It is a journey back through time to the very origins of the faith.

One of the more significant moments afterward was the visit to the Tomb of John Paul II. There was a steady stream of pilgrims and many people kneeling and praying there.


Later when strolling around upstairs in the Basilica we tried to get to the small Museo they have there. But that is also the entrance to the sacristy and the guards were not letting anyone near. Apparently there was a liturgy to begin soon and there were hundreds of priests and bishops getting ready to process to the altar. Soon the bell rang and this very long procession began first of priests and then of bishops and cardinals. The end of the procession then featured Cardinal Levada and his Master of Ceremonies, none other but my friend Fr. Steven!!! It took me a while to get camera powered up, but I got a few pictures to record the moment.

Afterward we headed out to the boulevards to see if we could find a taxi. On the way we stopped at the Pauline Bookstore and I spent another Euro 100 replacing my bible and getting a few other CDs and books. When I told the sisters my bible had been stolen they gave me a very nice discount.

The taxi took us back to Via Narni where we had dinner. There were many members of the Italian Province there including their provincial who did his best to communicate to us in English. There were also several members of our Indian Vicariate there, all of whom knew our Fr. Jerard who they spoke of as Fr. Irudaya Raj.

After dinner we walked back to our Villa to retire for the evening. Stan and Donalyn were a bit unnerved by Sr. Mary Mark and I arm in arm going down that hill chanting the Salve Regina by heart. We headed home but certainly had to stop at our favorite pizzeria for some Limoncello, wine and grappa.


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Day 13

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It was January 9th and this morning we delayed our celebration of Mass by a half hour so we could celebrate it in English. Then after breakfast we went to return the car to the rental agency and then caught a taxi from there to St. Paul Outside the Walls. We were to go to our last two Patriarchal Basilicas today. If anyone at St. Edward thinks our Easter Candle is too big they should take a look at the Easter Candle stand in the right side of this picture.


From there we went to Santa Sabina, a Dominican church, where Sr. Mary Mark had arranged for Sr. Margaret to give us a tour.

This fifth century Church was a delightful place to visit. Sr. Margaret gave us a thorough explanation of the fifth century doors which included one of the first artistic renditions of the crucifixion. Here is the detail of the door which shows the Resurrection.

The Church was given to the Dominicans in the 13th century and we had the grace and opportunity to spend some times in the rooms that were occupied by St. Dominic and the rooms of Pope Pius V. Sr. Mary Mark will have to remind me of the significance of the orange tree outside Dominic’s cell, because I did not put it in my journal

Here is a picture of the original 17th century painting by Lavinia Fontana of the Blessed Mother giving the rosary to St. Dominic.

I took this picture in St. Pius V’s cell where it is hidden from public view. A copy hangs in the main church in a side chapel. Apparently the original has been stolen before and Sr. Margaret told the story of a Dominican seeing the thief carry the painting down the street.

We did some browsing through the little bookstore at Santa Sabina. We met some Diocesan priests from England in the shop and I purchased a few gifts and a replacement for the Leather cover that was on my breviary.

Then we went over to the Angelicum where Fr. Luke Buckles OP treated us to a fine lunch and then gave us a tour.


From there we walked over to St. Mary Major to complete our visits to the Patriarchal Basilicas. Across the street we stopped for Gelato and then walked to the Basilica of Santa Prassede where St. Gaspar’s parents were married. In this church there are some beautiful mosaics and the remnants of the pillar from the Scourging.


A few blocks from S. Prassede is the Carmelite Church of San Silvestre where St. Gaspar was baptized.


And from there we went to see the Altieri Palace where Gaspar grew up and across the street we visited the Jesuit Church of the Gesu where we found the relic of St. Francis Xavier that was so instrumental in Gaspar being cured of a serious disease when he was a boy. I think this completed our tour of those Gasparian sites we missed on that first day.

From there we walked over to the Pantheon thinking we might have dinner at Sagrestia. Italians eat dinner much later than we do so the Restaurant was not even open yet.

We did some browsing in nearby shops to kill some time, but we were pretty tired and hungry and several of us wanted to get off our feet so we found this little bar where we had a scotch and some snacks. Then when the restaurant opened we had another marvelous dinner. Looks like it made Stan pretty happy.

After dinner we went home for an early evening. It had been a very full day and we always ended each day pretty tired.

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Day Twelve

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Day Twelve is January 8, 2007. There were only two things on our agenda for this day, to go to Albano and then back to Rome to have dinner with Fr. Steven Lopes.

First we had to check out of our Hotel in Siena and find our way South. It was rush hour in ancient Siena, cars going everywhere in those tiny streets. We had to check out of the Hotel and then I had to walk a couple of blocks to get the car and then drive to the hotel, park as far to the left as I could, and get all the luggage to the car with all these cars and trucks and even buses going by. We eventually made it and were soon out on the Autostrada making our way South.

I suppose now would be a good time to talk about the weather while we were in Rome. We had remarkable weather. People were commenting on how warm it was and that there had been so little rain. It had rained on us a couple of times but the rain had the decency to fall only at night when we were asleep, If it rained during the day then it would only rain while were inside on a tour. On our drive south today it rained pretty steadily, sometimes very hard. We stayed warm and dry in our car, listening to chant and telling stories. Stan and Sr. Mary Mark discovered these little tables in the back seat and tried to compose a few postcards, but the road was not cooperating.

Whatever it was, rain, chant, or riveting conversation we ended up taking the wrong exit off the Autostrada. I think maybe it was the confusing signs on the highway. Sometimes they were more understandable, but the directions on the freeway were a bit more confusing for someone who does not read Italian. We found our way through the center of Rome and turned left on a Road I knew went south. It, in fact, went south all the way to Albano. Once there I began looking for signs that might direct us to the Sanctuary of St. Paul. The signs ended up having the words for St. Paul in tiny print. In larger print were the words S. Gaspare. We eventually found our way there and the rain stopped just long enough for us to walk into the Church.


St. Paul in Albano has been a center for us from the early days of St. Gaspar. It was here that he was first buried after he died. After his remains were transferred to Rome, they still kept a piece of him here.

I found a nun doing some needle work in the Sacristy and I told her in my best Italian that I was a Missionary of the Precious Blood and would like to meet the CPPS that were there. Ok, I had met formidable roadblocks before and this one was not going to deter me. Then out came a torrent of Italian in rapid fire that I could not understand. Ok, I will look elsewhere. I went out into the courtyard a found a front door. The voice that answered was a CPPS who had spent years in Tanzania and who knew English pretty well. Fr. Antonio was the picture of hospitality and showed us around with great delight. He disappeared for a few minutes and came back to tell us it was time for Lunch and he had prepared a table for us. The whole community of seminarians was there, as well as the staff of the house and the priests who are retired there and many of the sisters, including the one who had been the earlier roadblock. After Fr. Antonio had let us in he had led us back into the church through the sacristy and when we went through the sister just looked up at me and grunted.

I should have gotten pictures of the crèche scene in the dining room before we ate. It was beautiful. After lunch I looked back there and the seminarians were dismantling it and putting it away. I did get a shot of the crèche in the Church.

After lunch we were taken on a tour of the museum that is at Albano. The museum has many artifacts from St. Gaspar’s life. One of the most amazing items is to see the crucifix he carried with him on mission. It was designed to fold up for easier traveling.

There are many paintings and artifacts and holy cards from the time, his breviaries, cassock, and some vestments as well as sacred vessels. I have been there three or four times now and it is always a joy to visit this holy place.


After our little tour we got back to our car and drove back into Rome. It was time to find Villa Lituania again and check in. This time we had a car as we could not turn it in until the morning. So we parked in their gate area and went inside to get them to open it. When I got back outside it was beginning to close again. So this time I waited with the car while someone else went in. Once parked, we unloaded and checked in. We got some different rooms this time around in another building. Italian accommodations are pretty interesting sometimes. In Assisi I had such a small bathroom that the bathroom itself was the shower stall. I think we all agreed that this part of the trip we got better accommodations.

We had made arrangements to meet Fr. Lopes at Chiesa Nuova at 6:30 or so, so we had several hours to kill and decided to see some things that had been missed from the first days itinerary. We freshened up a bit and then headed over to Santa Croce. We looked around a bit and then I inquired of the monk in the gift shop if Fr. Mark Kirby was around or available. Within about five minutes he was downstairs and giving us a tour of the place. He was quite animated in his devotion to this place and spoke of the many saints who had come to the shrine to pray. St. Gaspar had made his retreat here before ordination and afterwards preached to the monks ten Lenten seasons in a row.


Don Marco and I made plans to get together to celebrate Mass at the shrine in a few days, then we got ourselves a taxi and made it over to Chiesa Nuova. Chiesa Nuova is where St. Gaspar preached his last mission before he died. We were there in plenty of time to visit the church. Soon after we arrived a Mass began at the tomb of St. Philip Neri.

Fr. Lopes arrived soon after and shepherded us to one of his favorite restaurants. We were among the first to arrive at the restaurant but soon after it filled up. It must have been American’s night out because the only language we hear in our section was English. These two young women were having an animated conversation not realizing that their clear high and distinct voices pierced the atmosphere and were louder that the rest of the customers combined. The food and wine were terrific. There is a little pasta called caci e pepe that I had not had before but must learn how to make. Even more terrific was the conversation, Fr. Steve filling us in on the politics and economics of the parish back in the 80’s and 90’s when he was a parishioner and super sacristan. (Did I forget to mention that he was a student of mine back in the late ‘80s). Anyway, Steven confirmed in many ways the stories I have learned about this place that illustrates much of what we have yet to turn around and reform here. That I was able to return to the parish and finally informed them that we ended a year in the black is some indication that we are on solid ground again. It was a great dinner and we enjoyed it too much. We had been among the first to arrive at the restaurant. We were definitely the last ones to leave. A good indicator of the intense conversation was that I failed to take any pictures to record the event. It was a Feast.

We were not too distant from the Vatican so we accompanied Fr. Lopes back there by foot. It was an easier place to catch a cab that could take us back to our Guest house. This was a heavily Gasparian day and the morrow was going to be principally Dominican for Sr. Mary Mark again.

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  one of Fr. Keyes' photos

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

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