Ciao, Bella Roma!
During her recent time in Lucca, Italy, Sr. Mary Agnes had the opportunity to visit Rome for a few days to see some of the major site, especially those which were dear to our Holy Founder, Saint Paul of the Cross. Jane Wynn (mother of our Sr. Cecilia Maria) is a travel-planner extraordinaire and she coordinated all the sight-seeing and travel arrangements, accompanying Sr. Mary Agnes and Mother Catherine Marie on the trip. Besides the wonderful photos they snapped, Jane kept a delightful account of their travels.
"It is a gorgeous trip from Lucca to Pisa down through Tuscan Hills and Villas and past the famous Leaning Tower in the Field of Miracles, past the old walls of Pisa to the train station. As we pulled out of Pisa, I expected us to head south, but we were all of a sudden in Firenze after about 20 minutes. I feared we were on the wrong train, but we were not, as this was some special train that was going via Firenze super fast to Rome!
"As soon as we got the keys [to the place we were staying], we headed around our street corner and walked to the Celio Hill to meet Father Lawrence. [Mother Catherine Marie] knew the way exactly and got us into the Passionist Generalate. Father Lawrence [Rywalt, C.P.] gave us an amazing tour. We saw Sts. John and Paul Basilica where St. Paul of the Cross is buried, the Sts. John and Paul Passionist Generalate – where St. Paul of the Cross lived his final years…connected to the Basilica. There is a large community of Passionist men who live here. This is the Passionist international hub right across the street from the Colosseum.
"After lunch we visited the relic Museum, only opened at special request, where we saw [St.] Gemma['s famous] diary and other “one of a kind” treasured items collected over many years."
"After breakfast, [Sr. Mary Agnes] and I walked one block down to the Colosseum taxi rank and had a lovely ride to St. Peter’s Basilica along the Tiber River. We proceeded to St. Peter’s where we shocked at noticing huge masses of LOTS of people, about 30, 000 at least! The crowd encompassed the entire colonnade in a 360 degree circle. Our chances of getting in were ZERO. So we looked around a bit and took a few pictures and decided to go to our second pilgrimage site. We walked over to where the cab had dropped us off and waited for another cab which came quickly and headed back across town to Santa Maria Maggiore which is between our apartment and the Rome train station.
"Next we walked across the street to Santa Prassede, a smaller church with beautiful mosaics. We put in a Euro in the light box and lit up the altar to see the splendor!
"Last stop for the morning was going to be San Giovanni in Laterano. We hopped in a taxi which zipped us down the Via Merulana to our destination. We visited about 1.5 hours and saw all the side chapels and beautiful Romanesque cloister (we were the only ones out there!)
"[Late in the afternoon] I had the brilliant (!) idea that maybe we could taxi over to St. Peter’s now at 17:30 and visit before it closed at 19:00. The line through security was short and I’m guessing we were inside at 18:00 and had an hour to visit. It was a wise decision to go very late in the day as there were almost no visitors left, plus we had [Mother Catherine Marie] as our tour guide!"