The weather in Rome has been splendid, warmer than usual according to the natives. Sunshine every day, which made our many walks and rides to the various offices and dicasteries quite enjoyable.
CMSM with the Congregation for the Clergy
Our first visit Friday was with the Congregation of the Clergy. This was the first time I felt rather like a fish out of water. The bulk of the conversation concerned issues relating to religious priests who leave an Institute but are still ordained and “free agents”. At the end, I did mention the recent Vatican document on the Brothers and advocated that it be required reading for diocesan seminarians.
Our group with Ambassador Hackett (behind me)
On Friday afternoon we took cabs to Trastevere to meet the U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See, Ken Hackett, at his residence. We had a good and very cordial meeting, conversing at length about the migrant issue, especially in Europe.
A detail from the sanctuary of St. Onofrio Church.
After that, four of us walked over to nearby St. Onofrio Church, the home of the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement in Rome. Fr. Brian Terry, CMSM President-Elect, is the Minister General (Superior General) of the order, which was founded in the USA and is headquartered at Graymoor, NY. After a tour of this ancient and revered church, we celebrated a private mass around the altar. I noticed several symbols of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre within the church, and Brian informed us that Pope Pius X reestablished this medieval equestrian order here at St. Onofrio at the turn of the last century. As a member of the KHS, I was pleased to know that I had ended up here at its “mother” church.
A rendering of St. Pius X with the symbol of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre (red Jerusalem cross)
That evening all of us went out for dinner and ended up at a great trattoria called La Polese, where we dined outside to some delicious food and lots of delightful conversation.
We had our last meeting at noon on Saturday with the dicastery for Evangelization (aka The Propagation of the Faith), during which we discussed mission activities around the globe. After our meeting, Cardinal Feloni, the prefect, showed us the newly restored library; it was stunningly beautiful.
Marvelling at the beauty of the library.
After that four of us headed for Assisi to stay at the home there of the friars of the Atonement. It was about a two-hour train ride and we had a very pleasant and relaxing stay in Assisi. It’s a very special place, and we experienced the best of Franciscan hospitality.
Our group at a wonderful restaurant featuring typical Umbrian food, La Fortezza, with Brother Gregory (back left) and Paolo, a postulant (right front), and of course, our waiter.
The view of St. Clare’s Basilica from the Franciscan convent.
We got back to Rome Sunday night, and each of us spent Monday on our own. I did the Jubilee pilgrim walk up the Via del Conciliazone and up through the Jubilee Holy Door. I enjoy visiting the lower crypt with several papal tombs. After pranzo (lunch) I visited ancient San Clemente Church near the Coliseum and then walked past the Coliseum, the Forum, and to the newly —and beautifully refurbished—Trevi Fountain. The three of us remaining gathered for a last pasta feast near the Domus before packing to head out Tuesday morning.
This proved to be a very interesting and informative trip; it certainly opened up my eyes to the complexity of the Vatican. I was also impressed with the mastery of knowledge and background so many of the “officials” we visited. We are a big Church with a presence in every corner of the globe. Pope Francis’ effect on the church now three years into his papacy is almost palpable. Vive il Papa! Arrivederci Roma!