Sunday, December 21, 2008

Rome Part 1

On Monday, we left Assisi to head to Rome. Again, heading through the Umbrian plan was an awesome experience. At one point there was a quite large Medieval town. We found out it was Palestrina. I had heard of it, but I need to research it.

I must tell you about our guide, Liz. She had met us at the airport in Rome when we arrived. I had the opportunity to speak to her. She speaks 4 different languages, English, Italian, German and French. She is from London and works quite frequently leading tours throughout Europe, Italy being her favorite. She was not Catholic, but very definitely Christian. I was very glad to have such a knowledgeable person handling a lot of the details, along with Kelli from Magnificat. Kelli is an awesome young lady from Louisiana who was a pleasure to travel with. I am sure there was so much that she did behind the scenes that made the trip go so smoothly. This pilgrimage was an opportunity for me to not worry about what was for dinner, whether the laundry was done and who was going where. Even though it was an overwhelming trip, I was surprised at how relaxed I was.

Anyway, back to Rome. We arrived in the city center of Rome in the afternoon. We took a driving tour of the Forum, Colosseum, Circus Maximus and the ruins of the massive bath-house in Rome. We visited the Church of St. Peter in Chains. Here, under the altar, are the chains that bound St. Peter, both at the Mamertine Prison in Rome and the set from Jerusalem. When Pope St. Leo I put them together to compare them, they linked together and couldn't be unlinked. Here we prayed specifically for our archdiocese, our bishops and priests, since our cathedral is also St. Peter in Chains.

Here is also Michelangelo's famous statue of Moses. When he finished it, he threw a hammer at it yelling"Why don't you speak?!" Pope Julius II had commissioned Michelangelo to make 47 statues for his tomb. Michelangelo had spent 2 years in the marble quarry picking out the perfect pieces of marble for these statues. He had hardly begun on the statues when Pope Julius pulled him off of that job to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Pope Julius ended up being buried at St. Peter's but he is behind the organ. So much for the proud. You can check out this church here

We walked over to the Colosseum in the rain. Mark would have loved to go inside and check out the architecture, but it was too late in the day. This structure had been covered with marble, but after the fall of Rome, it was used as a quarry. The marble was used to build churches. The thing I noticed about the Colosseum was that there were three tiers of columns. The bottom layer had Ionic capitals, the middle Doric and the topmost layer had Corinthian capitals. I didn't expect to see all on one building. During the Roman empire, there was a large tarp that covered the open arena.

The Circus Maximus was a large open area used for chariot races. It was here that most of the Roman martyrs lost their lives. We also passed under aqueducts and through ancient gates in the walls around Rome. In Rome, the inner city is very vibrant, but the outskirts tend to be rougher areas - very different than Cincinnati.

Our hotel was about 2 KM away from St. Peter's Basilica. This had been a former hostel for pigrims to the Eternal City that had been built in the 1950's. It had been called the Domus Maria (House of Mary) This very large hotel is now a convention center and boasts an exquisite Chapel with a beautiful mosaic of Mary in the apse. Her were able to have Mass in a small modern side chapel.

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