It's Tuesday! Well, not really. I am just catching up on blog posts, and I am dating them as if they were done in order. Otherwise, I will get confused!
The sights we began with today were planned by Bruce. He really enjoyed looking things up online and in the Rick Steves books my mom gave us for Christmas. We knew we needed to be in a certain area of the city, because we needed to pick up tickets for the General Audience with Pope Francis to be held tomorrow. So we started the day with breakfast. I actually went down the few steps to the dining room of the hotel. I really needed the exercise, and it was nice to see the cozy space Bruce had been telling me about. I don't think I have mentioned the yummy food yet; a nice breakfast buffet each morning to get us going, prepared by very friendly staff. We then took a taxi to the famous Trevi Fountain. Now I must admit, I had no idea how big this fountain is! Rome has lots of fountains. I had seen one picture of 3 women tossing coins over their shoulders into this particular fountain (a big tradition, apparently). But the picture was a close up at the main level; and so there was no perspective for me. This thing is HUGE!
After the Trevi Fountain, we went looking for the Spanish Steps. But on the way, we came across a piazza with a tremendous sculpture. The sides of the base had scripture verses about our Lord Jesus and Blessed Mother Mary. It was a bit of catechesis in 3-D!
I think it is wonderful that Rome keeps these beautiful pieces of art throughout the city. It displays history and faith. With so many people in the USA trying to have all vestiges of Faith removed from the public square, these sights are inspiring and refreshing.
So, we finally made it to the Spanish Steps. Lots of steps! People were eating lunch, reading books, talking on cell phones...and even to each other! LOL At first, I figured Bruce would walk up the steps, but he didn't want to leave me. Then we looked in the Rick Steves book, where he mentioned an elevator in the nearby metro station. I was so excited to be able to get up to the top!
Around this time we were getting hungry, so we went searching for a place to eat. Of course, there were many! We went down a busy street with lots of boutiques. The expensive kind! Like Prada, Gucci...good grief the prices were insane! It was fun to peek in the windows and see what people consider to be high fashion or unique, but no purse is worth the money these designers ask for! Bruce was definitely glad that I am not a shopper!
While still searching for just the right place to eat, we came across another beautiful church; this one with signs advertising an exhibit about Saint Padre Pio! Initially, my brain told me that this was his parish (no idea why) but researching later told me no. It was just the church (San Lorenzo) blessed to host the exhibit. I cannot explain the impact this had on me! There were pictures, letters from a doctor who examined Padre Pio, and relics. The exhibit featured a glove he wore. For those who don't know, Padre Pio was a priest known for incredible piety and spiritual gifts. Among other things, he received the stigmata, or wounds of Christ. Doctors examined him, and could not find any reason for his perpetual wounds. Very miraculous! Gazing upon the glove, I was overwhelmed. Padre Pio had such a deep relationship with Christ, and faithful Catholics believe he is even closer now...being in heaven eternally.
Having these items on display is not about worship. Saints are not gods. But they are models of tremendous faith. By looking at these things, even venerating, we are seeking the help of Saints. After all, they are not dead. They are alive in Christ and with him forever! That is why we ask saints to pray for us, just as I ask my Christian brothers and sisters on earth to pray for me.
Well, we finally ate, though we didn't take pictures. We split a salad and huge plate of spaghetti carbonara. I had heard of it, but never tried it before. YUM! The pasta is mixed with bacon, eggs (tiny bits) and black pepper. We will be making this at home!
We knew that the Pantheon was nearby...and it was closer than we realized. After lunch we walked down one road, and there it was! This was built as a pagan temples, honoring all of their gods. In the 7th century, the emperor gave it to the Roman Catholic Church, and it was dedicated to Mary and the Martyrs. It has been used ever since then for Catholic Mass. In Christ, all things are made new! The dome is HUGE, and inside the sculptures and paintings are breathtaking. It is hard to believe the size of these structures, built long before any of our modern builder conveniences (using lots of slave labor.)
Our last task of the day was picking up the tickets for the General Audience with Pope Francis for tomorrow. We got them at the Pontifical North American College. Very friendly staff, featuring Sister Ann Marie. She told us what to expect, and gave us great advice which turned out to be more valuable than we could have imagined! More on that in Wednesday's post.
What an amazing day! Filled with so many highlights, it was hard to pick just a couple. That is why I kept going! Hope you are enjoying this journal...and I hope you get a chance to make your own pilgrimage some day!