Greetings from the Eternal City, the Center of our Catholic Faith, the See of Peter, the Vicar of Christ on Earth!
Msgr. Michael Osborn, our Vicar General and Director of Priestly Formation, and I traveled from Kalamazoo and arrived in Rome early Thursday morning to blue skies, pleasant temperatures, and Spring fully alive. Five members of my family (four siblings and a brother-in-law) are accompanying me on this pilgrimage, as we visit with our two graduate priests, Father Jeff Hanley and Father Max Nightingale, as they are completing their two-year License in Canon Law. The 45-minute drive from Fiumicino Airport to the Casa Santa Maria allowed us to pass through the beautiful countryside and into and through the dense traffic of cars/motorcycles/trucks and throngs of pedestrians, both tourists and local residents of the very busy city of Rome. Father Max and Father Jeff were waiting to greet us at the Casa (as it is referred to), the residence for about 75 student priests from the United States, where Msgr. Osborn and I are staying. (My family members are staying at an AirBNB within a five-minute walk from the Casa.)
After finding our rooms/accommodations and a chance to freshen up, all ten of us enjoyed a delicious late lunch (pronzo) at an outdoor restaurant. We then had time to do some sightseeing before returning to our rooms for a short rest (siesta). We all gathered at 6 p.m. in the Sacred Heart Chapel at the Casa to celebrate our first Mass in Rome, followed by our first chance for a light dinner (cena) of pizza at a local restaurant (DaMichele) that claimed to have the “best pizza in the world”. Fr. Max, who is a regular patron of this restaurant, agreed that they certainly had the best pizza in Rome. Since the “body clocks” of those of us who had traveled such a great distance had not caught up with the actual time of Rome, we were all ready for an early bedtime.
Friday, the first full day in Rome, began early with breakfast at the Casa Dining Room, followed by all of us celebrating Mass together in the Crypt of the beautiful Church of the 12 Apostles, very near the burial place of two of the 12 Apostles, St. Philip and St. James. To be able to be that near the earthly remains of two of Jesus’ closest followers and to celebrate Mass in that very place is one of the greatest thrills of any pilgrimage to Rome. Father Jeff preached a beautiful homily, providing us with some of the history of that great basilica and these two Apostles.
|View from the Crypt to the upper Church of the 12 Apostles|
|Mass at the Church of the 12 Apostles (shown from left at the altar: Msgr. Michael Osborn, Bishop Bradley, Fr. Jeff Hanley and Fr. Maximilian Nightengale).|
Following Mass, we have all boarded a high speed train to travel to Florence where we will be for the weekend. I will be writing more about that part of our Pilgrimage in the next day or two.
Faithfully yours in Christ,