Wednesday, February 20, 2008

I'm gonna be a hood ornament.

If I am not careful, I could well end up a hood ornament. After spending a week walking through Rome, where they lock the brakes up when a pedestrian is in a cross walk, I know I am gonna step out in front of a speeding bus and nearly get plowed!

The good news, though, we made it back in last night and I am currently doing laundry at mom and pop's up north, before heading south for the late afternoon Mass at the Cathedral. It truly was a great trip, although the return journey is always excruciating. We had an 11 hour flight from Rome to Atlanta, taking the ever popular 'over Greenland' route. (We had been back over land for a while, and dad thought we were somewhere over upstate New York. Turns out, we were approaching TORONTO! I do not get the logic on that one.)

When asked, mom and dad came up with the following list for a first timer to Rome:

1) Four major basilicas, non-negotiable, all of them!
2) Forum and Colosseum
3) Vatican Museum
4) Catacombs
5) Scalia Santa, the Holy Steps at St. John Lateran, which was a truly moving experience!

We finished this week with Sunday Mass at St. Peter's, the Sung Mass in Latin with Choir at the Altar of the Chair, very moving, although I forgot about the push forward at Communion time. After the noon Angelus address, we traipsed over the Janiculum and down into Trastevere, with its much different feel than the main side of the river.

Monday brought the Stational Mass at San Clemente near the Coloseum, and luckily near where we were staying. The Stational Masses are a good chance to see and pray in Churches around Rome where you don't normally get a chance. (They have Mass in a different Church every day of Lent.) It was powerful to be one of 40 or so priests in a crowded ancient church celebrating Mass at the Altar of St. Clement, the fourth pope. The connection with history is palpable in Rome, something which this country cannot even begin to grasp.

After a return to the Bed and (little) Breakfast, we hitched a taxi to the Quo Vadis Church, and the catacombs of San Sebastiano. Again, a powerful experience with a strong connection to history. (What would it take to get Mass at the Altar of St. Sebastian in the Catacombs?) Lunch preceded our trip to the final Major Basilica: St. Paul's Outside the Walls. As ornate and overdone (in a good way) St. Peter's is, St. Paul's is grandiose in its vast size and sheer simplicity. There is no great dome, there are not 30 foot statues, just a vast space and a simple (for Rome) baldichino. To that extent, St. Paul's reminds me of the Cathedral in Cincinnati.

After a bit of shopping, we headed for the B and B for our afternoon siesta, and headed out for a nice final dinner, as Tuesday morning brought a 7:30 jaunt to the airport and the beginning of that long day of travel back to the States: 6:00 AM Rome time (midnight here in Ohio) wake-up call, 7:30 transfer to airport, 10:00 departure, 3:30 arrival in Atlanta (some 11.5 hours! in one tin can with a group of about 30 teens just in front of us!), 5:50 departure, 7:00 arrival in Columbus, 7:30 pulling out of airport after collecting car and baggage, 9:00 arrival at Botkins. After 23 hours, three tired world travelers hit the sack shortly thereafter!

Great to be back, can't wait to go again! pics will be posted tonight, hopefully.


Rich Leonardi said...

Welcome home, Father. It sounds like it was a wonderful trip. One of these days, I'll make it over there. One of these days ...

uncle jim said...

did you go as part of a group arrangement, or did you do all the planning on your own?

my wife and I are considering Rome as a possibility in 2008 (our first real vacation trip other than family oriented in our life). We wonder if we can do it 'alone' or need to be part of a tour group.

any thoughts or advice?

Father Schnippel said...


We did it ourselves, which was nice for the flexibility it offered. What's nice about the tours is that everything is arranged for you, but you may not see the things you want to see. For example, all the major sites are usually included, but we hit the Mamertime Prison, where Peter was imprisoned before his martyrdon. I doubt this would be on a main tour. The other thing, the tour books are excellent nowadays. We had three: DK Eyewitness Travel, Rick Steves' Rome, and Frommers. Each had a unique perspective and each added certain elements. We would take along the best book for the day, depending on which sites we were seeing.

It depends on what you are looking for in your experience: very specific sites with the Catholic history or the general 'this is Rome' thing.

Father Schnippel said...

Oh, and Rich, you've gotta go! For any committed Catholic, it will deepen your awareness of the historical dimension of the faith, plus being able to pray where Peter and Paul, plus all the early popes, are buried. Wow.