Monthly Archives: January 2014

Day 4 in Rome

Monday 10-7

Day 4 in Rome

Went to an ATM machine, and was very grateful to push 2 for English.  I am glad they are hospitable to those who have not mastered the language.

Took a tour of the Vatican museum and the Sistine Chapel. Lots of good info, but wondered what I missed. Just left on our own in the Basilica.  I will come again.

That said, it was wonderful. The court of the Pine Cone with the seed of new life referring to the mysteries of the universe was powerful.


The Sistine Chapel was an irreplaceable experience. Such vivid colors. I’m so glad they cleaned it up. The conclaves were held there. The Second Vatican Council met there. I stood there. Wow.  (They wouldn’t let us take pictures, but pictures are readily available on line).

The images are timeless.

It was build when Michelangelo was born as a fortress in case of invasion of Muslim hordes. Michelangelo made it come to life with the story of the universe.

They had a double spiral staircase that was really interesting.


The Basilica of St. Peter is like nothing else. The Cathedral in Cologne is huge and impressive but cannot match this magnificence.  

There are huge statues, some of earlier and medieval figures, some of relatively modern (John Bosco and St. Vincent de Paul). Inspiration to learn more about some, like St. Bruno. There are also huge mosaics but you can’t tell they are mosaics without looking very closely. There is the Tomb of Blessed John Paul II.Image

There we see the body of Blessed John XXIII in a glass case (he looks pale, but pretty much like you’d see at an average wake).


Many events of the Christian story are being told, and others hinted at. This is just a tiny sampling of the vast ocean of stories of the people, through the ages, who kept the Gospel story going.

When I first walked into St. Peter’s, on the right was the Pieta of Michelangelo. I thought, “Oh, yah, I’ve seen a bunch of those.”


“Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh, this is the real one!”


On the front wall is a great sculpture of a chair. Of course, this is a great celebration of the Chair of Peter. For all the gallons of cynical ink spilled on the subject, if our faith is true in any sense, the Chair of Peter is a gift from God, and therefore worthy of celebration.

It is said to contain fragments of the simple wooden chair of Peter.  Did he have an official chair? Very possibly; it was a custom far older than Christianity for a teacher to sit in a chair that was a sign of his authority.

There is a niche for another statue. Maybe for Saint John Paul II? Who would be more likely than him? I bet that a big bunch of people would be willing to donate to the project.

Oct 7 is the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. Prayer for today: Joyful mysteries of the rosary, reflecting on God’s call to continue passing on the story.

Day 3 in Rome

ImageSunday 20-6

Day 3 in Rome

I should have brought more dark shirts in anticipation of eating more spaghetti.

St. Peter’s Basilica!!!

The wait in line was not nearly as long as I expected.

Metal detectors. Would I be in trouble with my stainless steel water bottle?

No problem (whew!)

Inside the Basilica: Oh my Oh my Oh my Oh my!!

Beautiful carvings of different colored stone. Enormous statues.

There are some big, fancy monuments to popes. The cynical part of me immediately asked: Does that really serve the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Would Pope Francis approve? Add to that the corruption of many Church leaders in that era, the scandalous way finances were handled, we start with a lot of questions.



There have ever been the twin tasks of praising the Glory of God and serving the needs of the people.

Should the money have gone to the feeding of the poor instead of building magnificent Churches?

There have been many, many others things that money has been spent on that have not been of such enduring value. It seems that beautiful churches are the first thing that some want to cannibalize to feed the poor, when they should be the last thing after everything else.

As for the corruption, the unworthiness of some of the key figures? The Church has ever been messy. There have been the good, the bad and the ugly. In the midst of it, the Gospel story has been told. That is the most important thing that I learned when I was in Jerusalem: In the midst of the human imperfections, the story still has power.

A more balanced reading of history says that there were good, even saintly people, including popes, working in the midst of the messiness. The heart that seeks God must focus on the grace in the midst of the messiness, or never encounter the depth, the richness and the beauty God has for us.

Mass at St. Peter’s.

I was a ways back, but had a view of the altar. The view was often obscured by people holding up smartphones and tablets. One guy in front of me decided that during Mass was a great time to take several dozen pictures of the ceiling with his telephoto lens. Come on, folks, is this the way we pray? Ah, well, the messiness of the Church goes all the way through, and in encountered everywhere. It is now for me to focus on the gift in the midst of the messiness. Perhaps that is why God brought me here today.  I never know how He is going to be working.

Had dinner with Fr. Tony Russo who is here on sabbatical.


Psalm for today: 84.

Day 2 in Rome

Saturday, October 5: Day Two Rain (Pioggia/Piovere): That’s okay; it won’t stop me from walking. Walking old bridges (pontes) with old statues. Lots of statues St. Peter’s square has lots of portable wooden gates to herd the crowds.


I’m very happy that the hotel provides a substantial breakfast; that will save me a lot of money. I can walk a lot of miles on this.

It was worthwhile visiting a grocery store just to go to the cheese, meat and bread section and inhale the aroma!   Ahhhhh! And they didn’t even charge me.

Espresso and Chocolate Croissant (ah!)

Bruschetta here is very different from the pale imitation they serve in American restaurants. The pasta is firm, but gentle. The red sauce has zest (a bit spicy). When I was younger it was a lot easier to read the fine print in a pocket bilingual dictionary. Maybe I need new bifocals (sigh). Went into two churches near St. Peters: Church of the Holy Spirit in Sassia, and (I think) Mary of the Child Jesus.

They are very fancy inside.

 Hs in sassia2

In one church people were praying the rosary and doing a novena to Sr. Faustina (the church was full).

Psalm for today: 92

My trip to Rome: thoughts

These are some reflections from my trip to Rome in October of 2013:

Friday, October 4: Day One

Found a place to get a good portion of pizza, and a nice salad and a glass of wine for 10 euros. Not everything is that cheap however.

Gelato: Need to get more of this stuff!

Surprising how much beer is served in cafes. I would have thought wine was the thing. There is plenty of wine as well, however.

Wow! It is so easy just to walk into St. Peter’s Square

No surprise they sell a lot of religious trinkets, both cheap and expensive

Lot’s of priests and nuns

Yes, you do have to be careful crossing the street.  I don’t think they want to hit you, but they seem awfully confident that they won’t, even if they get really close…

Walking, and getting familiar with the immediate neighborhood. Very tired, a bit nervous about being in this new country, not feeling very adventurous.  I’m pleased, however, that I got my first look.


I figured I should take a couple pictures of myself so that people would know I was really here, and didn’t just make all this up 🙂