Travel: Italy (Day Twelve)

Today we were out the door around 9 a.m. and took a taxi over to the Colosseum for our tour there, but before we could begin, we had a cappuccino at the Oppio Caffe, which is where I also had my first experience of Nutella (it was the filling of my croissant) and can I just say, “I’m a big fan!” The two definitely gave me the boost to take on the Colosseum with sugar and caffeine.

You learn something everyday and today I learned that the name of the Colosseum came from a 98 foot statue of the Emperor Nero (pic from the internet) that was considered a “colossus” because of its size. I’m thinking the man had the ego to go along with it!

This truly was a tour through ancient / pre-Christian Rome and considering that some of what we saw was built around 500 b.c. it was impressive. I’ll comment on these as we go…

The Arch of Constantine celebrating his victories. Many of the pieces were taken from other memorials and cobbled together to create this one.
A panoramic shot of the Roman Forum. Can you say, “Lots of old buildings, memorials, etc.” It is fascinating and it is one that you’ll need to read up on because my brain could not absorb much more information at this point. I would say, 500 years of history in this one shot.

It was a very hot day here in Rome, so after seeing all this we made our way to a fabulous little restaurant where your’s truly enjoyed some nice meatballs, a salad, fresh bread, white wine, and lots and lots of water. We then took a short walk to the Church of San Pietro in Vincoli (Saint Peter in Chains Church) where we saw the chains that bound Peter while he was in prison in Rome and the Moses by Michelangelo. You’ll notice that Moses has horns. We know that when Moses came down off the mountain he was radiating the light of God so that the people asked him to cover his face. They were afraid of what they saw. However, at the time, the Hebrew was incorrectly translated. Turns out, “radiated light” and “grew horns” are almost exactly the same in Hebrew. Guess which translation Michelangelo was working from.

The above were amazing to see, but what caught my eye across the aisle (we were ushered out pretty quickly as a wedding was about to start) was this fantastic image of Death. If you ain’t got Jesus, you better start making plans to meet this fella!

At this point we were all done, so we took the cab back home. After a few minutes of rest, I remembered that I had not gotten my Rosary in for the day, so walked about a half a block to the church on the street we are staying to the Piazza di San Salvatore in Lauro only to discover that in one of the side altars were some amazing relics of Saint Padre Pio and another with a few vestments and a white zucchetto belonging to Saint John Paul II. To be near JPII and to pray the Rosary with Padre Pio was a very moving experience. I have truly been near and prayed with the mortal remains of all my heroes of the Church with the exception of my friend Thomas a Kempis. (Guess I’ll eventually have to take a trip to the Netherlands for that… challenge accepted!)

There are two days remaining here in Rome. Tomorrow we’ve plans to attend church then off we’ll go again. I’m not sure where we’ll end up, but I’ll be sure and share the details.

Blessings to you all.


Travel: Italy (Day Seven & Eight)

Yesterday was a day of travel from Florence to Rome via Italo (train), fun, and food. It is about a two hour ride, so once we arrived we took a cab to the VRBO and this one was an upgrade over the last (although the last was nice).

During the cab ride, I did “cross the Tiber” but was only there a short while before darting back across another bridge. We then went out in search of fun and food and found both. In the process, I got myself a bit of Italian ink, but you’ll just have to wait to see that one. Dinner was at a restaurant recommended by Enid friends and they were so right! Ristorante Ambasciata D’Abruzzo. Delicious. We had a nice bottle of wine and I ordered the lamb. Should you find yourself in Rome, don’t miss out.

It was early to bed so that we could be up and out the door by 7:30 this morning. At that time of the morning, the streets are clear and the sky is so blue. The fountains are the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi. The water is clean enough to drink and was one of the main source of water for the people early on.

There’s not much that I can add about this next place: the Pantheon. It is massive and imposing and beautiful and in the midst of it all there is holiness and simplicity. Each column is a single piece of marble that was brought up from southern Egypt. They are each 39 nine feet tall and weigh 60 tons apiece. The height to the oculus (hole in the ceiling) and the diameter of the base of the dome are equal: 142 feet. From that distance, the oculus looks small, but it is 30 feet in diameter.

Leaving this place we walked a few blocks and came across an elephant. A Bernini elephant with an obelisk on its back. I found the right spot for the sun.

Confession: there is a street in Rome that has multiple clergy candy shops and I bought some candy: a new zucchetto in the store where the Pope and Cardinals (and all the lesser folk) shop and a bit further down came to a smaller shop and picked up a VERY nice handmade cassock at a very reasonable price. For the record, I’ll now have to purchase another inexpensive suitcase and check my bags. Poor baby… I know.

This was followed by a two hour lunch which was delicious and then on to the Francesi (another beautiful church) where I saw the Caravaggio’s of Matthew. I’ve studied these paintings in the past, so it was moving to see them in person.

I forget when (maybe after the Pantheon) I stopped in Stan’Ignazio of Loyola Church and after looking around for a bit, stopped here and prayed my Rosary for the day. At first it was noisy, but then the voices receded and there was peace.

Up until this point I have been very intentional in not looking for the Vatican. I don’t want simply a glimpse. I want to take it all in at once and tomorrow is the day. I will cross over the Tiber River via the Ponte Sant’Angelo (The Bridge of Angels) built in 136 a.d. and adorned with angels sculpted by Bernini. Once across, I will turn left and look up and I will see. My tour of the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel begin at 7 a.m. so I’m off.

Have a wonderful and peaceful night.

Sermon: For Richard Roark

I don’t normally post the sermons I write for funerals, but I’ve decided that I would like to start because it is my way of remembering these individuals, so I suppose these types of posts will be more for me…

Archbishop Fulton Sheen said, “The rosary is the book of the blind, where souls see and there enact the greatest drama of love the world has ever known; it is the book of the simple, which initiates them into mysteries and knowledge more satisfying than the education of other men; it is the book of the aged, whose eyes close upon the shadow of this world, and open on the substance of the next. The power of the rosary is beyond description.”

During our online Morning Prayer services, when someone makes a comment, I see what they are saying. And almost without fail, there would a “Good morning” from Richard. That was always nice, but it was in the Zoom Rosary service that I could actually see him and for the last twenty months or so, almost every Tuesday at noon, Richard and I would meet and pray the Rosary together. We would occasionally have others join us, but most of the time it was just the two of us. We would visit for a few minutes about life and he would always ask if I thought anyone else would join us (he never quite understood why no one else did), and then we would get down to the work at hand. Sometimes we would pray a Rosary with special intentions, but mostly… we just got together and prayed those ancient words, meditating together on the life of our Savior.

We can read and hear about Richard’s life, which will tell us something about him, but it was this faithfulness in prayer that tells me all I really need to know. The Psalmist says,

You speak in my heart and say, “Seek my face.”
Your face, LORD, will I seek.

And that was Richard. Doesn’t make him perfect, but in his life of prayer, he sought the face of the Lord, which tells me that he did the same in his life. Seeking the face of the Lord in the faces of those he encountered.

Job said,

I know that my Redeemer lives
and that at the last he will stand upon the earth.
After my awaking, he will raise me up;
and in my body I shall see God.
I myself shall see, and my eyes behold him
who is my friend and not a stranger.

Richard sought the face of the Lord and now his eyes do behold the face of his Redeemer, who receives him as a friend and a beloved child. The inheritance and reward of his faithfulness, an inheritance and reward that awaits all who call on the name of the Lord. This is our joy and our hope and the fulfillment of God’s promise to us all.

The Salve Regina or Hail, Holy Queen is the final prayer of the Rosary. I prayed it with Richard a few hours before he died: “Hail, holy Queen, mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness, and our hope. To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve. To thee do we send up our sighs mourning and weeping in this valley of tears. Turn then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us, and after this our exile show us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary. Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.”

“… and after this our exile show us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus.” And on this day, for Richard, she has. I am thankful to know that when I pray a Rosary down here, Richard will pray with me from his new home in the Heavenly Jerusalem.

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