A simple cross erected in 1794 by Pope Benedict XIV in the Colosseum reminds visitors that it is sacred ground where many martyrs shed their blood as Christian witnesses.
Roman Forum: a breath of fresh air
Like caged animals, our boys miss their natural environment. Chasing each other on the busy sidewalks, dodging traffic in uncertain crosswalks, doing tricks on the escalators and fighting gravity on trains just doesn't seem to cut it. But being out in 'the wild' was a huge highlight from their visit to the Colosseum and Forum Tuesday. Joseph wrote in his travel journal:
The crowds at the Colosseum gave it the feel of a professional sporting arena; the wide expansive space at the Forum offered peace, quiet and a breath of fresh air.
It was refreshing to be in a place with plants and trees and fresh air, instead of concrete, cars and pollution. That was the highlight of my day.
St. John the Evangelist
A basilica for the world, St. John Lateran Basilica was built by Constantine as the first church in Rome. As the cathedral of the bishop of Rome (Pope Benedict XVI), it is also the cathedral for the world. Our visit to St. John Lateran on Tuesday added immesurably to our pilgrimage to Rome. The art and architecture alone would be worth a day's visit; add in the sacred space for worship and prayer... it's like a part of heaven on earth. Visiting the Schola Sancta across the street allowed us an opportunity for prayer and penance, a great preparation for celebrating confession a few hours later at the Pontifical North American College where our Papal Audience tickets were ready for pick-up.
Arriving at the Pontifical North American College, Rome
Peter and Tim wait in line to celebrate the sacrament of confession (reconciliation) at PNAC.
Anytime you can add confession to a family evening out, you are heading in the right direction.
For us it was an added bonus to our visit to the Pontifical North American College to collect our tickets for Wednesday's Papal Audience. The offer was far too good to refuse, and we were all able to receive the special sacrament (one after another). We have seen many active confessionals in the various churches we have visited, offered in many different languages. What a gift to be at NAC during confession time! The surroundings are beautiful and peaceful, and Zachary mentioned that everyone we met there seemed very happy. Someone I know might like to study there someday...
An evening with a new friend with close ties to home capped off another wonderful day in Rome. She is a theology professor at a pontifical university; outgoing and personable, and a lot of fun to visit with. She had the inside scoop on where to order good pizza, and to our surprise each personal pizza was as large as a medium family pizza at home (though with a delicately thin crust and moderate, tasty Italian toppings). We brought home left-overs to enjoy cold the next day.
- Just because you're next in line at the grocery deli doesn't mean you're next in line (must grab a numbered ticket!).
- Standing at the deli waiting to be served without a ticket marks you as a silly tourist.
- When you taste the fresh cold cuts, the other details fade away.