Friday, October 19, 2007

Livin' la Dolce Vita

I don't have time for a lengthy post, because the internet cafe I'm at closes in a short time.

But I had a grea day following my Mass at St. Peter's. Frs. Shenosky, Carr, and I enjoyed a couple of leisurely cups of excellent cappucino and delicious sweet rolls. Then, as they went back to their studies, I went off and explored. First stop was the Gesù, home church of the Jesuits:

Unfortunately, the Gesù was a bit of a disappointment. It's an impressive church, of course:

The Sanctuary of the Gesù

But the reason I went there was to see the Altar of St. Ignatius. This altar has more lapis lazuli in it than exists in any other single place on earth. When I was here studying 10 years ago it was closed for restoration and could not be seen. And guess what happened this time? Yeah, closed again. Will I ever see it in this life?

After the Gesu, I went to the Basilica of San Marco, which has a wonderful 6th century mosaic in the apse. I had the lights turned on in the sanctuary, but I still couldn't get enough light for a good photo. I'll try again.

From there I went to the Roman Forum:

I studied Classics in college and graduate school, so I can never get tired of seeing the forum and imagining it in its glory.

After a full day of sightseeing, I returned to the Casa and joined Fr. Shenosky for dinner. We went to a great place near the Pantheon, which had outstanding carbonara. Talk about inspiration:

A perfect end to a perfect day.

More later!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

I'm In Rome...I'm Really Here!

That's the thought I've had several times since my arrival Tuesday afternoon. After the long flight everything seemed sort of surreal, until dinner, when I looked around and it hit me - I'm really here. I'm staying at the Casa Santa Maria, which is the residence for American priests pursuing graduate studies in Rome. This is where I lived when I was here in 1997 to study Latin with Fr. Reginald Foster, the (in)famous "Pope's Latinist".

The Casa is in an incredible location: It's right around the corner from the Trevi Fountain, and next door to the famous Gregorian University:

The "Greg"

The Casa's also about a block and a half from the Piazza Venezia, which is the heart of the histori downtown center of Rome. As you walk down into the Piazza from the Casa on the via del Corso, you see this:

The Vittorio Emmanuele Monument

The Vittoria Emmanuele monument is dedicated to King Vittorio Emmanuele II, the first king of a unified Italy. It's certainly imposing, but many Italians think it's a bit over the top.

In the same piazza is the Palazzo Venezia, which is (in)famous because Mussolini used to harangue the crowds in the Piazza from it's window:

So, yesterday morning my adventure began in earnest. I arose early in the morning and left with two friends, Fr. Joe Shenosky (who was a classmate of mine at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia) and Fr. Elias Carr (who is a friend of mine from back in grad school at Catholic University), who are both pursuing graduate studies in Rome and live at the Casa. Our destination: St. Peter's:

St. Peter's in the Early Morning Glow

Fr. Shenosky, Myself, and Fr. Carr in Front of St. Peter's

We went to St. Peter's to offer Mass. Specifically, we had made arrangements to offer Mass at the Clementine Altar, which is the altar in the crypt of the Basilica immediately behind the tomb of St. Peter. There's no altar at St. Peter's closer to the tomb itself than this.

The Clementine Chapel and Altar

Behind the grille above the altar is the stone of the back wall of St. Peter's tomb.

So, Frs. Shenosky, Carr, and myself offered the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for the Feast of St. Ignatius of Antioch, and I fulfilled a dream I've had for 10 years:

Fr. Rob and Fr. Shenosky after Mass

So that was the beginning of my first full day in the Eternal City. I'll have more later, about my visits to the Roman Forum and the Basilica of San Marco. But I'm off to Ravenna later today!