Thursday, September 8, 2011

Natural Disasters or a Visit to the Holy City

Last week while I was away in Rome for a meeting there was an earthquake an a hurricane at home.  I sure got the better end of that deal!!  Actually, the hurricane was in process at home when I left Rome.  I owe great thanks to Delta for quickly rerouting my flight and upgrading my seat!!  This is not a product placement!  Once home it was only 2 days without electricity--not bad compared with those who went a week.

So, let's get to the time in Rome!  Did anyone ever tell you that August is incredibly hot?  Well, it is!!  However, that didn't put a damper on my visit.  It didn't stop all those pilgrims there from WYD either.  Have you been to Rome before?  If not let me take you on a little tour..
The Catholic Church understands that we need concrete expressions of our faith--just as Christ understood when He gave us the Eucharist.  So you go into St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican and you see amazing art work all around you.  You have been to art museums right?  Somethings are just not to be touched!  However, as you enter St. Peter's there is a golden cross on the right which many people touch.  Then there is also the statue of St. Joseph--shown above.  People line up to touch the feet of this statue.  The feet of St. Joseph are slowly disappearing due to the amazing number of hands that have rubbes his feet.

Here is a statue of St. Vincent de Paul inside St. Peter's.  St Vincent got a front road seat--ok he is standing, but he is on the lower level of statues on the right shortly after you come in the door.  He is right outside the Eucharistic chapel. 

St. Louise de Marillac also got a big space in St. Peter's!  There is a "chapel"  area where the daily Mass is regularly held.  She is on the upper level there--larger than life.

This is a photo of the Eucharistic chapel.  I was disappointed to find it closed that time.  However, I was able to get this photo.  When the chapel is open, the gates are open but a curtain blocks the doorway.  There are no photos allowed in the chapel because it is truly a place of prayer for pilgrims and not a place for tourists.

I went along the corridor set up on the right side for people to follow to get to the Eucharistic Chapel.  There was a group crowded next to some barricades that were in front of this side chapel.  I thought they were a tour group just hearing about the painting or something.  When I came back later I could get closer to the barricade and check it out and then I saw...

it was the resting place of Blessed John Paul II!

This is the plaza outside St. Peter's--it is huge!!  This is actually just like a quarter of the plaza.  There is a spot that is marked that you can stand on and when you look at the 3 curved rows of pillars it looks like just row.  My grandfather told me about that, so this photo is in his honor!

On a non-religious note, this is the Trevi Fountain.  I know that the water isn't actually showing, but all the people are blocking it.  There are steps that go down and people through a coin in backwards over their shoulder and wish to return to Rome.  Of course there is the mandatory gelato also!  That is a kind of Italian ice cream.  I actually had one EACH day!  Fortunately, I did a lot of walking too!!

This photo is of Casa Maria Immaculata.  It is the house of hospitality that the Daughters of Charity run.  It is only about a 20 minute walk to St. Peter's.  It was a blessing to be with our Sisters there.  Their hospitality was amazing despite the language barrier--and the great meals with them!!  An added bonus was that some of Daughters on their way to an international heritage sesssion for the coming month  stopped by in Rome on their way to the motherhouse in Paris.  Right next door is another local community of Daughters of Charity where some of the elderly Sisters live and they provide special hospitality for women with children in need.

Did I mention I was there for a meeting?  The meeting was fantastic too, but there is something amazing about being at the Vatican--I was able to go on the Scavi tour too: (virtual tour). Being surrounded by pilgrims from around the world speaking and praying in so many languages is such a spiritual shot in the arm!

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