For the fourth pilgrimage with the Sodality of Our Lady in Ireland we went back to the Eternal City. Our tour guide, Mr. Thomas Murphy, had arranged for us to stay the week in a convent just next to St. Peter's Church - Instituto Sanctissima Bambina Maria - which, apart from conventient access to 7 o'clock morning Mass, a fact of which many of us took advantage, offered the most incredible view from the roof top terrace (picture 1); warm summer evenings, dusk, with a well lit St. Peter's at our feet - clearly divinely inspired.
Day one was planned as a walk through the streets of Rome along the Via Papale, the route of the popes, although we did it backwards; starting at St. Peter's Square (picture 5), just after morning Mass with Fr. Larkin, our route went down to the Tiber, past the Church Santo Spirito in Sassia and Ospedale Santo Spirito, and then towards Castel Sant'Angelo (picture 2) which was originally built as the Emperor Hadrian's mausoleum. Since the 6th century AD connected with St. Michael the Archangel after Pope Gregory the Great, during a plague epidemic in 590 AD, saw a vision of the Archangel on top of the building and took it as a sign that the plague was over.
From here we went across the Tiber on the Ponte Sant'Angelo (picture 3) and strolled through the narrow streets of the inner city of Rome and made our way to the Chiesa Nuova - Filippo Neri's oratory, designed by Borromini - passing Banco Santo Spirito and the Piazza del' Horologico. From the Chiesa Nuova we walked back onto the old Papal Way, once the main street of Rome but very narrow by today's standards.
From there we sauntered the few steps to the Pantheon, one of the most impressive buildnings in Roma - from the outside. Inside the Pantheon is actually a church but this is a fa
ct to which very few people pay the least bit of attention and upon entering you find yourself in a big hall, with excellent acoustics, where a couple of hundred people do their best to talk as loudly as possible and where tour guides happily stomp about with twenty or so photo-hungry tourists following. Here our tour ended and we made our way back to the convent for Benediction, Vespers, supper and bed. My advice after this first day; when in Rome - avoid the touristy places.