This week has been a fun short visit to Rome, Italy. We had the opportunity to attend the Papal Easter Mass, an item that most definitely has been on my bucket list. The rest of the week was spent wandering around Rome. It is the kind of place where one can roam.
All of the streets meet at piazzas. The streets are set up in such a way that people meet each other when walking around. The piazzas are social places. This is unlike the streets of cities in the United States where the streets are usually part of a grid that do not meet. I find that the U.S. has an individualistic/loner type of mindset. However, the streets of Italy are made for people to get out, greet, and socialize.
As mentioned before in other blogs, one of my favorite activities in Rome is to walk around and pop into the various street Churches. Just about every road leads to the center of a piazza where there is at least one Church. One common feature of these Churches is that often they look kind of bland and non-imposing on the outside but are quite grand and impressive on the inside. All of them have a patron and many of them have relics of Saints.
Just at the corner of the street from the hotel is the Church of St Susanna which I discovered is one of the oldest Churches in Rome. Who would have thought it? As I meandered outside my immediate surroundings, there I found a Church built upon the ancient ruins that dated back to the middle of the second century. St. Felicity also appears there.
After descending one of the hills overlooking the Vatican, we would wander upon a Basilica called St. Mary of Trastevere. Trastavere was built in the 300s. It is noted to be the first Church where Mass was openly celebrated. This Church was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary and is most notable for its beautiful mosaics.
Another precious discovery was the Basilica of St. Augustine which contained the relics of St. Monica, the mother of St. Augustine. She is noted to be the patron of all mothers who pray for the well being of their children physically, spiritually, and emotionally. St. Augustine, a doctor of the Church, was noted to be a wild guy in his early days. His mother prayed for his conversion and he became one of the most noted fathers of the early Church.
I obtained a prayer card there that read:
Prayer to St. Monica
God, Holy Father,
mercy for those who trust in You,
You granted Your servant Monica
the invaluable gift for reconciling
the souls with You and with one another.
With her life, her prayers and her tears
she took her husband Patrick
and her son Augustine to You.
In her we praise Your gifts;
by her intercession
give us Your Grace.
O Saint Monica,
who spiritually nourished your children
giving them birth so many times
as you saw them becoming estranged from God,
pray for our families, for young people
and for those who can’t find the path of sanctity.
Obtain for us fidelity to God,
the perseverance in longing for Heaven
and the capacity to lead to the Lord
those He puts under our care. Amen.
My son Jonathan particularly enjoyed discovering the Church of Gesu (Jesus!), which is the Rome home Church of the Jesuits. Treasures there included the crypts of St. Francis Xavier and St. Ignatius. St. Ignatius happens to be the patron of my son’s high school. So he enjoyed finding this particular parish.
These finds are just the tip of the iceberg as there are actually over 900 Churches in Rome. It would be neat to be able to visit and blog about each one, but I realize that to do such would take probably three years if I wrote on one a day! Oh well, all the more excuse to come back to Rome soon!