Saturday, May 31, 2008

Our Franciscan Pilgrims in Roma

Touring Rome
Today will be a great day for our pilgrims, except for the sadness of knowing their journey is almost over. They will visit the Sistine Chapel and Vatican Museums. Some will go to the Vatican Gardens. They will walk along the Tiber River, view the black market and bump into the Roma (gypsies). They will see the Pantheon which was a temple to the Roman gods and then became a shrine to the saints. They will see the Castle Sant'Angelo which served as the bastion of popes facing invaders. The will see the Spanish Steps, fountains and public art, and the Circus Maximus, once the home of chariot races. They will visit many piazzas, squares full of art and cafes. Foods, shops, museums, the ancient, the modern, the fashionable and the outrageous will be right there.

I cannot imagine any of them not seeing the coliseum. This is the most ancient monument from ancient Rome. Its building began in 7.5. A.D. and was opened in 80 A.D., an opening celebrated with a full day of bloody games during which, according to legend, five thousand animals were killed. This is a site of interest to all lovers of history but has special meaning to Christians who remember the martyrs.

They will especially want to visit the forum. which just goes on and one and on. The forum served as the center of social and political life in Ancient Rome. The site includes palaces, statues, temples and courts and homes.

Did I mention fountains? This is the city of fountains and the most famous is Trevi Fountain. This is perhaps the most famous fountain in the world. This huge Baroque construction, inspired by sea mythology, took 30 years to built, starting in 1732. Legend says that anyone who throws a coin into the fountain will return to the Eternal City. They will throw a coin in the fountain because they will want to return!

The pilgrims will celebrate their last Eucharist in Rome tonight. They will have one more day here, at St.Peter’s but they know a major event in their lives is coming to an end. What they cannot know at this time is that the meaning of the pilgrimage, the impact on their lives will be life long and changing. It is impossible to think about them without smiling, so, I smile.

Roman Forum and Roman Colosseum, Rome Italy

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