Roma, 9 Sept, Tuesday
Our first full day in Rome began with an early morning departure (7 am) for the Vatican and mass at St. Peter’s Basilica. Fr. George arranged for us to celebrate the liturgy at the tomb of St. Peter at what is called the “Clementine Chapel” which is right at the foot of the tomb. Fr. George was also gracious to ask me to preside, which was for me a first at this sacred place. The Basilica was quite empty at that time of the morning which is the best way to see it; quite prayerful. After a brief orientation to the church for the group, Fr. George and I went off to the sacristy to get vested for mass. In the sacristy we bumped into one of our friars, Bishop Girotti, who works for the Holy See.
The sacristy at St. Peters is quite the sight. It’s a beehive of activity, many, many priests getting ready for mass assisted with an equal number of altar servers. I had fun trying to figure out how to put on an amice and cincture for my alb (We don’t use them much in Canada). We then processed out, got the group, and went down into the crypt, by the tombs of many popes to the chapel for what was a simple and meaningful liturgy.
After mass we took cabs back to the hotel where we got changed and had our breakfast. We then made our long walk to the Campidoglio (Rome’s city hall) near the Victor Emmanuel Monument and walked behind and down the hill to enter the forum. Much to our surprise the entrance was closed! That meant we either had to climb up the hill or go around the Colliseum! It was very hot so we opted to go the Colliseum first.
Fr. George debunked a couple of myths. First of all what we normally call the Colliseum in actually called the Amphitheatre. The nick-name Colliseum came from a colossal statue of Nero that was nearby. The second myth was it was used to kill Christians. Not so. The Circus was where that might have happened. The Colliseum was used for games; gladiator games and hunting games. In these games, slaves often were killed, some of them Christians, but it was not because of their faith… it’s just because they were outsmarted by the lions or tiger☹
We stopped for a quick pizza lunch, and lots of water and then continued with our visit to the Roman Forum. On they way home we stopped for some more coffee granita and I went to check out the various ecclesiastical shops near the hotel. We are actually next door to Gammareli, the people who make the Pope’s clothes. I didn’t even dare go in the door… I just looked at the prices in the window and ran away!
Across the street was another store, DeRitis, which has some beautiful vestments. I bought a green chasuble for the parish. It’s made of fine wool and silk. We can’t get anything like it in Canada. Very nice.
That night Fr. George and I made our way to Piazza Navona for dinner. It was pretty good, although a little bit more pricey. Location, Location, Location.! We had another Roman dinner.
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, 9 Sept, Tuesday