Tag: Rome

Day 3 In Rome – I Now Know Where to Sit in the Dining Room to Have a View of the Pope

So, I’m catching up with my postings. The rest of my Rome trip was a whirlwind, preparing for the conference and then participating in the conference. But I did jot…

Lovely sighting while out on a walk,
taking a break from my work.

So, I’m catching up with my postings. The rest of my Rome trip was a whirlwind, preparing for the conference and then participating in the conference. But I did jot some notes and take some pictures for each day, which I’ll post sequentially over the next few days.

My third day in Rome was spent mostly inside, working on my paper.¬† Not a bad place to work. I was staying at the Domus Sanctae Marthae, where Pope Francis also resides. Interestingly, the salon where I was working has… two Popes.

Portraits of Pope Francis & Pope Benedict

I find it a gracious touch that in the residence that is his home, Pope Francis keeps this official portrait of Benedict at equal level with his own. The art on either side of them depicts Sts. Peter and Paul, respectively. St. Peter is holding his keys and is to the left of Pope Francis’ image.

St. Peter & Pope Francis

But the portraits were not enough to keep me from feeling just a little batty after a while and in need of a brief walkabout.

In Piazza Navona, I couldn’t help but sort of envy these folks with their prime view. How amazing to have a place where your balcony has Piazza Navona as a view.

Looking out at Piazza Navona.

Granted, it probably gets noisy at night time, until about 2 or 3 a.m. But not bad in the afternoon!

Some of the other English speaking conference attendees arrived and we decided that I’d done enough staring at the Pope in the dining room; so we had a great meal at Trattoria degli Amici in Trastevere. What a great place! It’s a project of the Sant’Egidio Community and they hire people with disabilities to work there. Everything is uber professional. You’d have no idea that this is a charitable type of work unless you read the paper table covering, which explains that the art is also part of the work done by people with disabilities.

Let me tell you, if the art is a measure of one’s disability, then I’m the disabled one! I certainly wish I’d thought to snap a few shots.

On our walk back to the Domus, some of our group stopped for cigars. Sorry, but the European bluntness makes me laugh. Yes, yes, I know smoking is very bad for one’s health. I don’t smoke. But still this made me laugh.

 

Smoke kills. [In case you were wondering….]

I’m not sure the legalism in the US would allow for such a bold statement. Yet, the irony is that despite that huge and rather ugly warning label, plenty of people will enjoy a smoke and they may not even die from it. Then again, maybe this blunt warning fits perfectly in a country where fresh air is still considered dangerous….’Fa male al fegato.’ (It’s not good for the liver.)

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Day 2 In Rome

Day 2 in Rome started with 7 a.m. Mass at St. Peter’s. Hands down this is the best time of day to visit St. Peter’s. Even if you are not…

Looking towards the front of St. Peter’s, from the inside, near the Sacresty. The sunlight is coming through the front door.

Day 2 in Rome started with 7 a.m. Mass at St. Peter’s. Hands down this is the best time of day to visit St. Peter’s. Even if you are not Catholic, you will surely be moved by the quiet and prayerful environment. Masses are being said at the various side altars. Just pick one and there you have it.

After Mass and breakfast, I headed out to Rome proper. One the way, I saw the Pope-mobile set up and ready to go for the General Audience.

You know how people talk about the sunlight and color? Look at this.

Wow. Simply. Wow. I only wish I were a good photographer. But you get the gist of it.

And then there’s the marble foot.

And a closer look.

A stop at Santa Maria Sopra Minerva (near the Pantheon) to pay a visit to St. Catherine of Siena and several others, with some time spent at Lippi’s chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas (who, btw, needs to help me with my paper).

This chapel is one of my favorite. Unfortunately, I did not have the requisite euro coin to light it up. It’s certainly worth it.

Outside of S. M. Sopra Minerva (btw, it’s “Sopra Minerva” because it was supposedly built on the ruins or the site of a temple to Minerva), you’ll see this obelisk supported by an elephant (sort of a mascot of Siena) done by Bernini.

As the story goes, Bernini designed the sculpture to have a huge space under and between the legs of the elephant. But the commissioning Cardinal insisted that the elephant would then be unable to support the weigh of the obelisk. Bernini, added the tapestry because he thought the elephant would look pretty ugly without the space left as he had designed it.

Later, he got his chance to prove himself correct in the nearby Piazza Navona where he constructed the base sculpture for an even larger obelisk.

Take a closer look at all that space underneath the obelisk:

And when in Rome, I always go to visit the church of S. Maria Magdalena where the crucifix of San Camillus (the patron of health care workers and founder of an order dedicated to the care of the sick) is kept. He is also buried here. He dates back 400 years.

Anyway, he would pour out his heart in prayer before this crucifix (to the right of the main altar, in a side chapel):

Twice, the corpus on the crucifix reached down to pat him on the shoulder saying, at least once, “Don’t worry. It’s not your work. It’s mine.”

What a great way to put our challenges in perspective! I prayed especially for those whom I know who are involved in projects bigger than themselves.

Lunch. Tonnarelli cacio e pepe.

During the summer, I like this dish with a simple red wine called Lacrima del Moro (the Moor’s Tear – just one tear).

And that pasta is perfectly wound. Even part way through:

And still:

Well, you get the idea.

Next to me was a table of four people speaking French who also provided some singing for entertainment.

The rest of the day was casual, until evening when I returned back to the Domus Sanctae Marthae. They forgot to tell me that most of the Vatican entrances close at 8 p.m. The police near the Vatican didn’t know of open entrance. Fortunately, I came across a Bishop who was showing some guests around outside and he was able to point me in the right direction.There is indeed a non obvious entrance.

As they say in Italian, meno male.

 

 

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Day 1 (and a half) in Rome

I arrived Rome yesterday afternoon. This trip has been totally last minute even though I was invited months ago to speak at the annual meeting of the Pontifical Academy of…

I arrived Rome yesterday afternoon. This trip has been totally last minute even though I was invited months ago to speak at the annual meeting of the Pontifical Academy of St. Thomas Aquinas. You see, last month they informed the US speakers (two) that there would not be funds to cover our airfare. Given the economic reality of being a roving theologian, I needed a sponsor. And a sponsor is just what a friend found for me last Wednesday night, the same night that my renewed passport arrived. The fares to Europe are so high, that the last minute purchase didn’t affect the overall cost. So here I am and I’d better get my paper written by Saturday (or sooner).

But meanwhile, wanted to share with interested readers some quick notes so far. Btw, I prayed for all my readers at Mass in St. Peter’s this evening. Many thanks to you all!

So, my trip has landed me at the Domus Sanctae Marthae, also known as the place where Pope Francis lives. Here’s closeup of the entrance:

Not bad.

While guests are no longer automatically allowed to attend the Pope’s daily Mass, we do get to eat in the same dining room. I’ve stayed in residences in Rome before and never understood the sense of paying to eat in when there was much better food available at the local spots. But the food’s good here. And the company is even better. I’ve yet to meet the Pope, but I’ve seen him at dinner both nights. He’s very informal. Serves himself from the buffet. I understand that he used to sit at a more central table, but one night he arrived and guests had taken it. He now sits off to the side, quite inconspicuously. Well, as much as a Pope can be inconspicuous.

I love the monogrammed towels:

And when I asked for an iron, I got that typical Italian wagging of the finger back and forth which translates into, “Nope. Nothing happening. No way. No.” Instead they took my clothing and returned them ironed as they have never been by yours truly. I could get used to this….

I realized that I am turning into a bit of a Roman/Vaticanista when the thing that surprised me most about the DMS was not seeing the Pope at dinner, but the water pressure in the bathroom. This has got to be some of the best water pressure in Rome. Mundane, I know. But what does it tell you that I actually noticed it after living here six years (in different places) and visiting many times?

Some other fun things that I’ve seen – and I do wish I’d been better about taking pictures. I don’t know if I’m secretly Amish or something, but I still feel like I’m invading someone’s space when I take their picture. I’ll try to do better in the days ahead.

Scene one –

A woman having her hair done (by done I mean colored) is standing outside the salon with her hair wrapped in what looks like saran wrap. She’s having a smoke. In spite of her hair and the gunk it contains, she looks amazing. Not only does she look amazing but she’s chatting up some guy as if she were at a party. On the side of a busy Roman street. Figurati.

Scene two –

It’s been raining a ton. And it all comes at once, not unlike the shower with great water pressure that apparently only exists in the Vatican. The rain has stopped and the roads are slick. Here comes a cyclist along the Lungotevere (one of the busy roads that runs along the Tiber river). No helmet. Steering with one hand, smoking with the other. Navigating the traffic just fine.

Scene three –

Waiting for a friend at a small bar. Here comes a woman with a small puppy in her arms. Soon after, a man with a small dog. They sit together at the bar holding their pets. No, there’s no common thread of smoking – the dogs sat quietly and their respective owners obliged my request for a photo, as they sat having their drinks at the bar.

His and hers.

We may be casual in the US, but these three quick vignettes make us look rather uptight.

To close for the night, I’ll end with a photo of one of the windows here inside the Domus.

Wine is necessary. (They need [more] wine.) UPDATE – “One thing is necessary.”

For the Latinists out there, note the contraction in “Vnum.”

UPDATE – A reader below notes that I totally got this wrong and that it in fact refers to Luke, 10.42a. “One thing is necessary.” In other words, this is Mary and Martha. Mary has chosen the better part, even though this is a window in the Domus Sanctae Marthae (House of St. Martha). Love the irony. Apologies for getting it wrong. Thanks for the correction!

Assuming I’ve got decent Internet tomorrow and overcome more of my inner Amish, I’ll be back with a post for Day 2.

Ciao!

 

 

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