Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Italian Connection IV

This is the last leg of the journey in our, and your, Pauline pilgrimage.
For any first time visitor of Rome the prospects of taking in as much as possible even in a basic tour package can be overwhelming. As the Scottish couple I was sitting next to at the papal audience said, scanning their map, “Where do you start?!”

The four major basilicas are a must-see, so that’s what we did: St. Mary Major, where we celebrated Mass in the Chapel of the Wooden Crucifix;
Rome’s cathedral, which, by the way, is St. John Lateran, not St. Peter’s;
then St. Peter’s, with a tour of the Scavi, or excavations below, where Peter is reputedly buried;
and finally St. Paul Outside-the-Walls, where Paul the Apostle’s tomb was recently unearthed.

Because of the breathless pace of the visits, one Cooperator grieved, “I lost my prayer-life in Rome.” A common enough sentiment. In fact, as the saying goes, If you want to pray don’t go to Rome! On the other hand, her sister-in-law remarked on the sheer number of holy places: “I don’t have to go to church now for the next ten years!”

We stopped at the Church of the Holy Cross and the Church of the Holy Stairs, which some of our pilgrims climbed on their knees in honor of Christ’s Passion. Tour guide Tiziana, a native of the city, was a font of knowledge about all things Roman. Guessing our skepticism about the relics, she headed us off: “Don’t ask me if it’s true. I don’t know. What I do know is that today we can get on plane and in a matter of hours we can arrive here. But centuries ago people made great sacrifices to come. Their faith is the real miracle.”

Creation, Church of
Jesus Master
  The Pauline Family thread wove in and out from Alba down to Rome. Our visit included the Family churches of Jesus Master and of Mary, Queen of Apostles, plus our two International Pauline Multi-Media centers near the Vatican, Domus Dei, the Sister Disciples’ foundry and studios, the PBM center at St. Paul’s shrine of Three Fountains, and the generalates of both the Society of St. Paul and the Daughters. In fact, the sisters at our general house flung open their doors to both the Cooperators and the film crew, showed a PowerPoint presentation on the community, and followed it with cake and cappuccino. The film crew, in image and interview, captured even more than the rest of us did.

Sì, the food in Rome—as everywhere else—was ottimo! And of course, we couldn’t skip a little shopping in between, including Soprani’s, “the Walmart of religious articles,” as one of us dubbed it. We were even treated to the drama of a genuine Italian traffic altercation. No tour would be complete without one.

Fr. Fernando, from the Church of the
First Martyrs of Rome, has friended
several U.S. Daughters on Facebook.
 Only God knows how often we prayed for our friends and donors, especially for those of you who assisted us financially and materially, as well as those who offered prayers for our safety, committed time preparing what we needed before and during those days, encouraged and challenged us, and welcomed us at every turn. At each Mass Fr. Paul led us in praying “for all those who have been good to us on this trip” on both sides of the ocean. Join us on a virtual pilgrimage below and feel the prayers for you and yours.

Blessings on your Thanksgiving Day!

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