Sunday, February 14, 2010

First Day in Rome

Flying from Milwaukee to Philadelphia to Rome, I arrived at Leonardo da Vinci Airport around 9:15 Saturday morning. A good Jesuit friend of mine, Fr. James Grummer, who works in the Jesuit Curia in Rome as our General's Assistant for the U.S., had arrived about 45 minutes earlier, returning to Rome after a meeting in the U.S. Together we negotiated the Roman train system and made our way to the Jesuit Curia which is a few blocks from St. Peter's Basilica.

The main meal in Italy is taken at 1:00 P.M. and Fr. Grummer asked our table about the latest news. And the big news was that he had just missed the snow! The last time Rome saw snow was about 25 years ago and the other day it had snowed enough to cover the trees and roads. I must admit that after all the snow storms in the U.S. recently, I was happy to miss this unusual Roman snow.

After lunch Fr. Grummer took me on a tour of the area. We walked down busy streets and quiet streets, past the Forum and the Colossium, to the Church of San Clemente. After praying in the main church and seeing the beautiful mosaic behind the altar, we descended stairs into various layers of history: the original church with frescos from the 4th Century and the original temple to Mithras over which the subsequent places of worship were built.

From there we proceeded to the beautiful Jesuit church, Gesu, where we attended a special music and light show during which paintings and a statue of St. Ignatius were lit as passages from Scripture, the Autobiography of St. Ignatius, and the Spiritual Exercises were read. From there we went to the church of St. Ignatius and to the Bellarmino, the House of Studies for Jesuits pursuing advanced degrees in Rome, where we celebrated Mass with the English-speaking Jesuits in Rome.

It was a full day, but after a 10 hour sleep, espresso coffee and fresh squeezed orange juice, and the fine Italian food, I'm ready for Sunday.

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