The morning after their arrival, the students arose bright and early for a visit to St. Peter's Basilica. The buses left campus at 6:30am and arrived in an empty St. Peter's Piazza, still in the early morning light. They snapped photos of the towering Christmas tree and nativity scene that dominate the piazza and looked in amazement, many of them for the first time, at the beauty of the Basilica facade.
Mass was celebrated by Fr. Luke Millette for the students at the majestic altar of S. Giuseppe (St. Joseph) in St. Peter's Basilica. After mass, students were given time to visit some of the holy treasures of St. Peter's, including Blessed Pope John Paul II's tomb and Michelangelo's magnificent statue, the Pieta.
Students were then broken into small groups and given orientation tours of Rome led by faculty and staff members. They were introduced to the history of the city, its major monuments, and some of the practicalities of Italian life, such as ordering a coffee and crossing a Roman street. Copious amounts of gelato and coffee were consumed as the students took shelter from the light rain that continued throughout the day.