Sunday, January 6, 2008

January 5th & 6th

January 6, 2008
+ Epiphany of the LORD

ROME – 8:50 AM

Happy feast! It’s another cold, rainy day here, but there is warmth and light in this house. Our breakfast (taken in silence) was enhanced by classical music. Small plates of Italian cookies were left for each of us at table. A great tower of sweet bread dusted in sugar appeared on the buffet table in addition to the regular morning items. We have yet to speak a word to one another, yet the “happy feast” message is all around us.
I feel a bit worse today and suspect my voice sounds a bit like Garbo. I still think it’s the sinus dance my body does a couple times a year when I’m run down inside. It probably wasn’t the smartest thing to venture into the city yesterday. We arrived home weary and soaked to the bone. Still, it was a wonderful day of pilgrimage – our first experience of the Vatican.
Sister Veronica and I traveled with Sisters Anita, Ruth and Mary. Catching the 7 AM train, we were among the first in St. Peter’s square. In the early morning darkness, we caught a glimpse of the Christmas lights, watched the police pick up the coins thrown in front of the life-size crèche, and enjoyed the silence before the throng.
We wandered through St. Peter’s…climbed over 500 steps to the cupola (top of the dome), and visited crypt where Peter’s successors are laid to rest. Many people were crowded around the tomb of Pope John Paul II, many at Saint Peter’s, too, even though his resting place lies far below the basilica. The most meaningful spot for me was the tomb of John XXIII – dear Angelo Roncalli – whose body lies incorrupt in an altar on the main floor of the basilica. At one point we got separated – 3 and 2 – as we descended from the dome. I even bothered Saint Anthony after about 30 minutes of searching for our sisters. You can’t imagine the dis-ease of being lost in another country or the deep joy of finding each other in a sea of human beings. JESUS lost in the temple comes to mind…
Our journey continued over the Tiber at the Castel Sant Angelo, to a lovely little pizzeria on Piazza de Pasquino where the vino della casa (house wine) was light and fruity, and the spaghetti carbonara (w/ egg & bacon) was beyond my powers of description. I feel as if I have never really understood the meaning of al dente until now.
Then, the Piazza Navono – alive with a street feast in honor of Epiphany. It began to pour so we decided to keep moving. Next, the Pantheon, St. Maria sopra Minerva – where we stumbled upon a rehearsal of Handel’s Messiah – and the fountain at Trevi. We got lost again, but together. Sister Veronica seemed to enjoy being lost. We found ourselves amid the shopping crowd on Via del Corso. She’s excited at the prospect of a shopping day somewhere in the weeks ahead. I’d like that, too. I’d really like to pick a neighborhood and just wander. Maybe next Saturday…
Eventually, we found our way back to Vatican City (my map drenched in the rain) and stopped for a Gelato before boarding the train. I know – we were cold and wet and tired, but the Gelato things just seemed necessary for our first day in Rome. Tired, wet and happy, we climbed the hill from the station to the Tutzing compound - hot showers all around and early to bed for most of us. We have seven more “free” days ahead…and so much to see and do. Thank you, to the Benedictine Sisters of Virginia for sending us to this wondrous city. We are truly seeing what Benedict saw and walking in his footsteps. What a gift! Love to you all…sisters, friends, family, students and WID’s. I miss you all…and pray for your good. – Sister Vicki