Our seventh day of vacation was a Sunday and we were in Rome. I can't think of a better place on earth to be for a Sunday! We went to the 10:30 am Latin Mass inside one of the most beautiful churches in the world. As the mass began with the choir singing, it was just like a little glimpse of heaven. The choir was absolutely wonderful and angelic. The first reading was in Italian, of which I could understand a word here and there. The responsorial psalm was sung my a little boy, not older than our Special K, in English. He was phenomenal! The second reading was in Spanish, and then the gospel was chanted in Latin. The homily was given in Italian, and I think Wingnut was able to understand most of it. Regardless of the language, the mass was easily followed and I enjoyed it and spending time in prayer in such a wonderful place thoroughly.
After mass, Wingnut struck up a conversation with the seminarian sitting in front of us. Wonder of all wonders, not only was he an American, he was a Utahan from Salt Lake City. Yup, right in the midst of Italy, we managed to find one of the only seminarians from Utah studying in Rome. He informed us he had come to that particular mass that day to hear the choir. The choir happened to be the Cathedral of the Madeline Children's Choir, also from Salt Lake City! How cool is that?! What a treat in divine providence.
Following mass, we toured the basilica, including the crypt of the Popes and managed to find Saint John Paul's newly moved tomb in the nave. We then took the elevator to the base of the dome and climbed the 520 steps to the top for an amazing view of Saint Peter's Square, and surrounding areas.
After a fantastic lunch at Taverna Angelica near Vatican City, we decided to take another look at San Giovanni in Laterno and then found a bus that would take us to the final of the seven pilgrim churches, San Lorenzo fuori le Mura. Wingnut was particularly pleased in making it to this church, as he had never been able to make it there in previous trips. The seven pilgrimage churches we visited ended up being : Saint Peter's Basilica, Saint John Lateran, Saint Paul Outside the Walls, Saint Mary Major, Saint Lawrence Outside the Walls, Santa Croce, and Saint Sebastian Outside the Walls.
For dinner, we had invited the son of my dear friend who lost her battle with cancer last May. He is studying for the priesthood with the Legionnaires in Rome. We met him for a late, Italian dinner at Taverna Angelica (yes, we had lunch there earlier in the day. Don't judge. The food is phenomenal). When we arrived at the restaurant, it was crowded with a large, noisy, group of Americans having cocktails and hor d'oeuvres. We noticed several men in collars and wondered at the gathering. Once seated, we could hear they had gathered for a ceremony honoring none other than Father Spitzer! As their group was served, several members came to our table to apologize for their taking over of the restaurant for the evening (we had the only other available table) and to ask about the young seminarian we had sitting with us. This ended up being a wonderful opportunity for our young friend, Brother Eric, as this group happened to be part of the Napa Institute, a very vibrant and faithful powerhouse of American Catholic laity and religious. William Cardinal Levada was in attendance, as well as Father Spitzer, co-founder of the Napa Institute. We met John Meyer, the Executive Director of the Napa Institute and Timothy Busch, founder of the Busch Firm, Trinitas Cellars and Chairman of the Board of the Napa Institute. They were all very interested in Brother Eric and exchanged cards and contact information. A second instance of divine providence for the day! We had a wonderful dinner with Brother Eric and enjoyed getting to know him a bit better. We shall be covering him in prayer and support as he continues his journey to the priesthood. To learn more about Brother Eric and his journey, you might check out his blog: godlights.me
First view of Saint Peter's Square
Wingnut Jr. eagerly awaiting mass.
Lil' Lamb in line for security in Saint Peter's Square.
This Swiss Guard was very cooperative in posing for this photo ;)
Detail of a mosaic inside the base of the dome
View from inside the dome down into the area mass was celebrated
Climbing the staircase inside the dome. Lil' Lamb climbed everyone of the 520 stairs himself.
View from the top of the dome of Saint Peter's Square
View of one of the domes from the outside
Bernini's statues for the exterior of Saint Peter's Basilica
Bernini's fantastic baldacchino over the main altar
Saint John Paul the Great's tomb within Saint Peter's
Brother Eric and Wingnut