Monday, April 29, 2013

One Last Day in the Eternal City


The day has finally come, that is, my last full day in Roma.  I leave tomorrow morning at 8:30 to fly out back to the States.

I realize I have kind of disappeared for the last two weeks.  Let me tell you, in the places I have been, internet has been sparse.

So, where exactly have I been the past two weeks?

Finals finished up, and I had a few days in Rome before heading up north to the mountains.  The day before I left for the trip, two other students, my RD, and I embarked upon a very special pilgrimage--the Seven Church Pilgrimage Walk.  I don't know if all that is technically supposed to be capitalized, but it should be!  What is the Seven Church Pilgrimage walk?  In Rome, there are seven churches that, if you are a pilgrim in Rome, you should make a point to visit and pray in while you are here.  St. Philip Neri began the tradition of taking youth and making a pilgrimage walking to all of the churches in the 16th century.  On Monday, April 15, the small group of us walked to each of the seven churches, beginning and ending at the villa where we lived and studied.  It was such a beautiful pilgrimage.  We started around 6am and finished right before 7pm.  We walked all day long, usually stopping for about 15 minutes when we reached one of the churches and stopping an hour in the middle of the day for lunch.  We spent some of the time walking in silence, some of the time praying together, some of the time just talking, laughing, and making up songs.  Here's pictures of us at each of the seven pilgrimage churches in Rome:
St. Peter's Basilica
St. Mary Major Basilica
St. Lawrence Outside the Walls
Santa Croce in Gerusalemme
Lunch break
St. John Lateran
St. Sebastian
And lastly, St. Paul Outside the Walls
Fr. Bennett-on-a-Stick made the pilgrimage as well
These are all the points we hit (starting with the bottom left-hand corner and going up), but not exactly the path we walked
The next morning, I headed to the airport to catch a plane to Milan!  My planed ended up being delayed for three hours, so I chilled in the airport and met up with the rest of the group (they all took a train...but I bought my ticket later so flying ended up being cheaper for me) when I arrived in Milan.  We saw the Duomo and had a picnic in a piazza.  It was a lovely lovely day!
Duomo in Milan (the Cathedral)
Me and the Duomo!
We also found A CASTLE!
The next day, we headed from Milan to Pollonae, a small town in the mountains where Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati would spend his summers at his grandparents' house.  Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati lived in Turin, Italy, in the early 1900s.  As a young man, he had a great love for the Lord in the Eucharist.  When he stayed with his grandparents' in the summers, He would wake up at 4am every morning and hike up the mountain so that he was able to go to Mass and receive Christ in the Eucharist.  He also had a great love for the poor.  He gave away most of the possessions he had to the poor, supported many poor families financially, and helped the poor find work.  He sacrificed his own wealth and possessions to do this.  He often visited the poor and the sick, especially on Fridays.  After one particular visit to a man that was sick with polio, Pier Giorgio himself caught the deadly disease.  He began to get very sick and also started to become paralyzed.  He did not complain, and his family did not notice because at the same time, Pier's grandmother was dying.  In fact, Pier's family got upset with him for drawing attention to himself while his grandmother was dying.  By the time Pier's family actually realized that he was seriously ill, Pier Giorgio only had a few days left to live.  On July 4th, 1925, Pier Giorgio died at the age of 24.  The last thing he did before he died was ask his sister to bring him a prescription for a sick man that was in the pocket of his coat.  He himself, though he struggled with paralysis, wrote a note to have the prescription renewed and charged to his own account at the pharmacy.  He asked his sister to take the medicine to the sick man.  Pier Giorgio died the same way he lived, giving himself totally to others out of a great love for Christ.

I got to stay in the house where Pier Giorgio would spend his summers with his grandparents for two nights while we were in Pollonae.  I couldn't believe it, what a gift!  We got to go visit and pray in Pier Giorgio's bedroom, left exactly as it was when he lived there.  There was also a room that was set up exactly as the room where Pier Giorgio died in his house in Turin.  All the furniture, blankets, and drawers were there, left exactly as they were on the day he died.  Wow.  It was such a gift to be able to stay there!
Blessed Pier Giorgio's grandparents' house where he stayed over the summers...where I stayed for three days! 
A perfect spot for some quality hammocking time on the grounds
During the full day that we had in Pollonae, we hiked up the mountain to Oropa, the town that Blessed Pier Giorgio would hike to every morning to go to Mass.  What took Pier Giorgio 45 minutes took us three hours.  We did stop to play in a waterfall though...
Heading out and up!!
Stopping to ask some old Italian men for directions...always fun
Playing in the waterfall!!
Arriving at Oropa, finally, after our three hour hike.  Yay!
In Oropa, we visited the basilica, ate lunch, wandered around, did a little more hiking, then went to Mass before hiking back down.  On the way back down, we spotted a warehouse that had a sign that said something that's the equivalent of "Free Samples!"  So what did we do?  We scaled/slid down the side of the mountain to go get free samples.  Yep, it was awesome and totally random!
We found snow when we went hiking farther up in the of course, we made  snow-Mary and snow-Baby Jesus
Having fun drinking from ladles attached to a fountain in Oropa

The next day, Friday, we left Pollonae and headed took a train to Turin.  There, we stopped by the Cottolengo House, a home for the mentally handicapped, where the guys would be volunteering for the next few days.  Then, after a quick visit the basilica where St. John Bosco and St. Dominic Savio are buried, I was on a bus to the airport to fly back to Roma!

And of course, my flight was delayed, three hours again.  I got into Rome after midnight, but some saintly sisters were super kind and came and picked me, despite the hour being so ridiculously late.  I spent a few days working and praying with the sisters.  Since then, I've been making last visits to some special places in the city, running last minute errands, and doing my favorite things one (or two or three) last times.  I walked through the Villa Borghese and made my last visit to Our Lady of Peace where St. Josemaria is buried on Wednesday.  Yesterday, Pope Francis just happened to celebrate Mass in St. Peter's Square (which I had no idea was happening until the day before), and by the grace of God and the love of His Blessed Mother, I ended up in the third row from the front.  What  a perfect way to spend my last Sunday in Rome!
First person view from my spot for Mass with Papa
Hi, Pope Francis!
Happy faces after Mass and seeing Papa driving around in the pope mobile
I've been spending a lot of time in the St. Peter's area and in the square and the basilica themselves.  St. Peter's is by far my favorite place in Rome, maybe my favorite place in the world.  I will miss it a lot.  I'm about to head over there now actually...

Enough time on the computer for my last day in Roma.  Time to head out into the city a second to last time, and one last time tomorrow morning....I'll let you know when I'm back in the States.  I hope you've enjoyed following me during my time in Rome!  Thank God it has been so wonderful...

1 comment:

  1. Pope Francis is so precious!!!! I can't wait to hear more about your adventures in person! Pier Giorgio's summer home is so beautiful!!