Talk about sporadic! I wasn’t exactly consistent in sharing updates of our Roman adventures. Sorry! As one of the sisters here put it, the more blessed we were, the less time we had to write about it. Regardless of not hearing from me, I did carry you all in my heart and prayers.
We’ve been to many places, seen many beautiful works of art from centuries past, walked in the footsteps of the saints, learned more about the inner workings of our Church and experienced firsthand what it means to be in the “heart of the Church”. What I thought I’d do as we wrap up our time in Rome was to share with you some personal highlights.
St. Peter’s Basilica: I can’t tell you – it feels like you’re home when you’re there. To look upon St. Peter’s as you’re walking towards it, to see the majesty and to know the history, there’s nothing like it! It is truly sublime – inside and outside the basilica. We’ve got people from all walks of life and from all around the world pouring through the doors daily, priests and religious from so many different communities serving/going to school living in Rome which adds a unique flavor all on its own and the knowledge that the successor of Peter resides here encompasses it all. The wonderful unity with all the diversity. Pretty amazing, really. What other Church has this?
If you do not know the history of the basilica, look it up. I don’t think I would do it justice here. Let me just note that through the centuries, with all who built upon the original tomb, it is only God who could plan it to be so. That all the monuments/churches built on top of the original tomb would all line up into one straight line. This happened with people not knowing what was underneath when they were building. Look it up and see for yourself.
Castel Gandolfo: This is a little town up in the hills (or at least it felt like hills when we were driving up) where our Holy Father usually resides during the summer. We were blessed to see the telescope that is housed here and used in the Vatican Observatory. What really blows my mind is all that I am learning about the contributions our Church has made for the betterment of man and for ongoing growth and knowledge. Science is not separated from God, it actually proves there is a God. What was so refreshing here as well was the beauty of our surroundings. All the mosaics and paintings in the world (even those done my Michelangelo, Rafael, etc.) pale in comparison to God’s creation. To even just sit and gaze at the beauty of God’s creation lifts the soul up and refreshes the spirit. If you have a chance, step away from the busyness of the day to day, the concrete buildings and immerse yourself in the beauty of nature, it makes a difference.
Subiaco: Here lies the cave which St. Benedict lived in for three years of his life. When you hear cave, you are probably thinking a hole in the wall near the foot of a hill. This cave was hewn out of the side of a mountain – closer to the top. And since then, an entire monastery has been built around this cave. The hillside covered with green green green trees (did I mention the trees were green!) is breathtaking. And from their vantage point, you can see way out into the countryside for miles on end. Here in this cave, St. Benedict allowed the good Lord to work in him, to prepare him for what was to come. He then went on to found I think 12 monasteries and is called the Father of Western Monasticism. It could be too that St. Benedict is St. Scholastica’s twin brother, which is probably why Subiaco was doubly fascinating for me. I’ve never in so many places seen so many images of her. A side note – surprising to me was to see St. Scholastica’s statue in a prominent place inside St. Paul Outside the Walls – where next to St. Peter’s is also quite important in the history of our Church. It’s because the Benedictines have been responsible for St. Paul’s through the centuries.
I realize I could keep going. All in all, our time here in Rome was richly blessed. The last remembrance I’d like to note is how edifying it was to see and meet so many priests/bishops who not only sincerely love our Church but are striving to be men of God in total service to her. We don’t hear about this often – but know it to be true.
God bless you and signing off! Sister Mary Scholastica