Seeing as I haven't written on this blog in seven months, I feel the need to offer a brand new welcome! And now hailing from across the ocean, I will offer it in my newest language: Bienvenuti!
The Lord has been blessing me with an amazing pilgrimage before and now during my study-abroad semester in Rome. It would take forever to chronicle all that He has brought me to see and experience, but I do want to share some of the highlights with you! (Unfortunately, due to technological diffculty on my computer, I can't share pictures just yet but I promise to post some in the not-too-distant future).
My fellow classmates and I first travelled to Assisi on pilgrimage, where we walked in the footsteps of St. Francis and St. Clare. It was a beautiful experience to watch the sunrise over the mountains three mornings in a row and so powerful to pray in front of the San Damiano cross where St. Francis heard the voice of Christ. Next, we went to Siena and stayed by the home of St. Catherine and sang for Mass in her sanctuary. We also had the amazing opportunity to attend Mass in the chapel of a Eucharistic Miracle. In 1730, 223 consecrated hosts were stolen from the Tabernacle of a Church. Two days later, they were found in the back of another church and today, after 281 years, the hosts have not disintegrated but are still perfectly fresh and intact.
Then we returned to Rome to settle in and begin classes. What a privilege to walk across St. Peter's Square every day. I will never tire of that beautiful basilica! I love being in the heart of the Church. There is so much exquisite art and architecture here and the history is so alive and tangible! This past week, we attended a papal audience and saw Pope Benedict XVI within five feet. On the same day, we went below St. Peter's basilica to see St. Peter's tomb. It was full circle: the first Pope to the current Pope, all in one day!
The latest highlight was taking a trip through the mountains and up the coast of the Adriatic Sea yesterday to visit Loreto, where the home of the Holy Family was miraculously transported from the Holy Land during wartime. Scientific research has confirmed "that the building materials used in the house correspond to those used in the basement of the home still in place in Nazareth... Furthermore, various markings of Jewish-Christian origin found in the stones also resemble those found at Nazareth." (Catholic Shrines of Western Europe Book)
Sending prayers for you from all of these holy places. If you have any special intentions for me to remember, please let me know. Arrivederci e Dio vi benedica!