Day 20 -- July 13th
Mother Regina Pacis lead us on our final walking tour of Rome to visit the local famous Churches that we hadn’t seen yet. We began by venturing into Piazza Navona which was the site of an ancient stadium, or place for contests. She explained that the word for contest was “agone,” so St Agnes in Agone meant she was martyred at the contest rather than in agony. Although they tried to kill her by burning at the stake, then resorted to beheading when that didn’t work-so maybe she was in agony too.
We headed off to the Basilica of St Augustine, where his mother, St Monica, is buried. A number of the sisters were impressed by the statue of Our Lady who many people have appealed to for healthy children.
Next we left Italy for France to the Church of St Louis of France. In addition ot having quite a few French saints represented in statue, painting or memorial plaque, there were three paintings by the chiaroscurist (painter who specializes in dark paintings with a light focus) Caravaggio. All three of these paintings dealt with St Matthew-from his call, to writing his Gospel, to his martyrdom. In the one about his call, Caravaggio drew us into the mystery of Christ’s call for each of us and His Mercy.
Next we took our backpacks to the Pantheon. While it is now a Church dedicated to Our Lady and the Martyrs, it still holds a bit of pagan and secular flavor. While the painter Raphael is buried there, so also is Victor Emmanuel and his son and daughter-in-law. There are religious images, and a lovely light from the hole in the round ceiling, but the Blessed Sacrament wasn’t present. So off we went to find a Church where Jesus was present.
Santa Maria Sopra Minerva is the Church where St Catherine of Sienna is mostly buried. Her head is in Sienna but the rest of her body rests under the main altar. In addition we found final resting place of Fra Angelico. Two statues by Michelangelo bookend the high altar. His subjects were Christ Our Redeemer and St John the Baptist. We found in a theater the little room where St Catherine of Siena lived while in Rome, and where she died. The final destination before lunch was the Basilica of the Twelve Apostles where the Apostles Philip and James the Lesser are buried.
We spent our time following in the footsteps of so many saints literally, now we need to do so spiritually.
Mother Regina Pacis and Sister Maria Soccoro led some of us to St Paul’s ending place and a lovely park where Our Lady appeared just across the street from Tre Fontane. On April 12, 1947 Our Lady appeared to a rabid anti-Catholic, and like St Paul, brought about his instant conversion. Many miracles have been attributed to Our Lady at this site. On crossing the road we journeyed back over the centuries to the Trappist monastery which oversees to place where St Paul was imprisoned before execution, and the place where he was beheaded.
Near to the end of our time in Rome we walked for our supper over to Trastevere, where we enjoyed pizza and the joy of our Sisters. It was a blessed day.
A classic pose in the Piazza Navona
Praying before the relics of St. Agnes
The statue of our Lady of Childbirth
Praying before the mortal remains of St. Catherine of Siena
The room where St. Catherine died
Praying before the tomb of Sts. Philip and James
Grotto Della Madonna delle Tre Fontane
The room where Paul was imprisioned before his beheading