Heather in Rome

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page. - St. Augustine

Sunday, December 11

Roman Graces

When I started the year here, the staff said there would be events that are special to our year. Each group has a different experience of the school because of the special events that can happen in Rome or elsewhere. Like last year when JPII died or this year when all the new ecclesial communities gather in Rome for Pentacost. Already there have been events unique to this year and to this place that I have been able to experience and since I have a few minutes to spare, I wanted to write about them.

For example, a week ago on Sunday, four of us from the school played music at a private Mass for the royal family of Belgium. It was the 50th birthday of Prince Lawrence and his wife surprised him with a Mass in his honor at Centro San Lorenzo, St. Lawrence's Center. The King and Queen, Princes and Princesses, everybody was there. It's funny because when I found out we would be playing for the royal family, my only reaction was, "I better not play badly." No real excitement about the royals, I didn't know them from Adam. After the Mass it was more exciting because we could come back to the Domus and tell everyone else about who we had just met and they were excited for us. The family was really nice, totally down-to-earth. They spoke French so I joked around with Carole that she should meet the prince closest to our age and marry him so she could be a real princess. She wasn't very excited about that idea.

Other Roman graces. On Saturday the school visited the tomb of Pope John Paul II and St. Peter in the crypt level of St. Peter's. We had Mass in a small chapel down there. In the afternooon we visited the Redemptoris Mater Chapel inside the Vatican. It is a chapel commissioned by Pope John Paul II in honor of our Mother of the Redeemer. All the walls are mosaic pictures portraying Jesus' baptism, ascension, second coming in glory, etc. The images were so strong and bold in color. At the end of the visit the priest who was explaining everything asked us if we wanted to sing a song before we left. A priest from the Emmanuel Community has written a song on Totus Tuus, JPII's motto, so we sang that. It was so beautiful and perfect for the place. I'm sure JPII was proud.

Sunday we went to the Angelus with the Pope (I dreamt about him the night before too). At night some of us went to a Christmas concert in St. John Laterine Basilica . I hadn't been there before, even though it's one of the four major basilicas in Rome (going made it 3 of the 4 basilicas visited in 3 days: St. Paul outside the Walls, St. Peter's, and St. John Laterine). It was the first official church building, commissioned by Constantine I believe. After four days with the Milano school and having the missions at the Spanish Steps and Piazza Navona, I easily could have stayed home and rested, but I decided to expand my horizons by going to a classical concert. In the end, I was so glad I went. Now it feels like the Christmas season. I knew at least 2/3 of the songs because they were sung either in English or in another language but the tune was recognizable. O Holy Night, I'm dreaming of a white Christmas, the Little drummer boy, and more. We haven't been singing any Christmas songs here and Rome isn't big on decorating the city with lights, so the feeling of the Christmas/Advent season is harder to pick up. But the concert put me in the mood. The baby Jesus is coming!

That's all for now. I don't know if I've put in here yet what I'm doing for Christmas. As a school we'll be going to 4 Masses on the Eve and day of Christmas: 8 pm and midnight, 6 am and 10 am. Craziness! On the 27th I fly to Barcelona and stay until the morning of the 30th. Then I take a bus and train to Lourdes and will be there until the night of the 2nd (that means I hope to celebrate the ball drop on the 31st in the basilica in Lourdes). then I take an overnight train to the east side of France to Grenoble, where the family of a friend from here lives. I'll hang out with Carole and her family from the 3rd to the 6th, then I fly to London and visit Canterbury where Neil from the Newman Center is studying abroad. On the 9th I fly home. Plane tickets are dirt cheap compared to the States, but the train costs more than I expected. Got to go. Happy Advent!


  • At 10:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Happy Advent to you too! Sorry I havn't sent the music yet. Michael told me he had a list of the song that you wanted, but he didnt tell me which song. So I'm going to send you a Breaking Bread book and then you can just tell me which ones you want... it'll be like a mail-order catalog! Hope you have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. The Newman Community (and especially it's students) really miss you.


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