Rome & the Catholic Church First Week in Rome
Rome & the Catholic Church may be vying for first place in transitioning out of jet-lag.
Despite a 6 a.m. wake-up call on their first full day in Italy, all were in good spirits as we headed
out first thing to St. Peter's Basilica. Nothing quite like starting with a view of
St. Peter's square, Michelangelo's Pieta, and an interior designed by, among others, Raphael, Michelangelo, and Bernini. We
also got our first taste of Roman unpredictability when, to our surprise, parts of
the Church were closed to the public for an "evento formale," which one of our students
later discovered to be the funeral of Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran. The Holy Father
was in attendance.
The group began Friday, July 13 in the heavens and finished in another country. As
guests of Fr. Brown, an astrophysicist in residence at the Vatican Observatory, we
learned about the Church's historic involvement in the study of the skies while discussing
the harmony between faith and reason. Later in the afternoon, we headed to the Scavi
(the excavations) below St. Peter's Basilica, where we saw the walls of Constantine's
4th-century basilica, pagan and early Christian tombs from the 1st-century necropolis,
and finally, the tomb of Peter himself, over which Constantine constructed his original
basilica, and over which the newer (15th/16th-century) basilica still stands.
In conjunction with their study of accounts of early Christian martyrs, RCC visited
perhaps the most iconic tourist destination in all of Rome: the Colosseum on Saturday,
July 14. From there they proceeded to a lesser-known gem, the Basilica of San Clemente,
which houses four layers of archaeological remains, including not only the original,
4th-century basilica, but a 1st-century pagan temple. Tomorrow they will enjoy some much-deserved rest, and their first American breakfast away
Students enjoyed their first morning of the trip without a wake-up call, followed
by Mass on campus and a rare American brunch designed specially by our dear cooks.
Following a class on Justin Martyr's defense of the faith and Book VIII of Augustine's Confessions, we then had time to catch the World Cup final before attending an entertaining lecture,
"Church Architecture 101," by Shakespeare's Dr. Novinski. One week into the program
and the group has really bonded. We will be heading to Subiaco tomorrow and then will
be off to our class trip in the middle of the week.