Thursday, February 16, 2012

Day 9 in Rome

Today I half-fulfilled a promise I made to myself to visit the Roman churches which represent the patrons of CMH. With two of our Milwaukee seminarians (John Gibson and Nate Miniatt) leading the way, we headed to a beautiful residential neighborhood far to the north of the Vatican. There we visited Our Lady of the Rosary Parish.

The church was interesting in that it turned out to be Gothic in style, one of the few in Rome. Inside was quiet, and even though dimly lit, colorful.

Given the number of Dominican saints represented in the art and at the side altars, we guessed that it might be Dominican fathers who staff the parish.

At the shrine of Our Lady, I lit candles for CMH students, staff, and benefactors. I took time to pray the rosary. Being Thursday, the Luminous mysteries are recommended. Along the way, with each Hail Mary I thought of some person or aspect of CMH to be blessed.

Unfortunately, we found that the parish of St. George (patron of Crusaders), is closed on Thursdays. Only in Rome...

Instead, we made our way back to the area south of the Vatican called Trastavere (meaning across the Tiber). Before lunch we stopped at the Santa Maria della Scala, St. Mary of the Steps or Stairs.

The stairs in this case refers to a tradition where an icon of Mary in the church was originally from a nearby home. A mother placed the image at the foot of the stairs leading up to the room of her badly ill child. Each time she climbed the steps to care for the child, she prayed for personal strength and intercession for her child. Eventually, the child was miraculously healed. A sign both of a mother's love, faith, and God's goodness.

Here I lit a candle for all CMH students, staff, and family members who are sick or suffering in any way.

We ended our trek at one of the most beautiful churches in Rome, also in the Trastavere section - Santa Maria della Trastavere. It's original portions are considered to be one of the oldest churches in Rome. Dating to the year 340, it is thought to be the first place of regular, public Christian celebration of the mass.

Eventually this minor basilica would be overshadowed by the four major basilicas of Rome (St. Peter's in the Vatican, St. Paul Outside the Walls, St. John Lateran, and St. Mary Major) but for its history and beauty it certainly deserves a certain pride of place.

Because this was the place of first public worship after decades of persecutions, I lit a candle here for strength for CMH to endure whatever challenges it confronts as a school community.

Three Marian churches made for a great day. I got a lot of great ideas for the chapel which I pray CMH will one day build! (Smaller and simpler, of course.)

I hope to try and get to St. George's tomorrow.

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