Monday 21 November 2011

Pilgrimage to Rome 2011, Day I - Let's start the walking!

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.
We stopped at the church Santa Maria della Pace, a beautiful white classical church that stands out among the sandstone buildings of old Rome. It was begun by Pope Sixtus IV and Bramante (who lived just down the road) but it was finished by the Sodality Pope Alexander VII and de Cortona. It is one of the very earliest renaissance streetskape 'theatres' of Rome. Around a few corners we visited the tomb of Pope Hadrian VI in the German church Santa Maria dell'Anima and then on to Piazza Navona and the church of Sant'Agnese in Agone, a 17th century baroque church located on the site where St. Agnes was martyred in 304 AD. It's a beautiful little church but the unfortunate location, on one of Rome's more tourist-ridden piazzas, apparently necessitates signs and loud speaker announcements which, at least for this pilgrim, takes away that "good ol' churchy feeling".

After a quick lunch and the compulsory post-lunch-gelato we went on to the Collegio Capranica (picture 4) where our guide had arranged for us the special privilege to be allowed in to look at the chapel and to pray. The chapel was a very special place for the Sodality because it is where at least two popes (Benedict XV and Pius XII) joined.

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.


Philly said...

Sounds like a good way to see the city. Looking forward to day 2!

Plunkett said...

WB Anka! Some of these churches are well off the beaten track but they have good coverage on wikipedia. Thanks for bringing them up.

Hershel said...

Ya gotta love that good ol' churchy feeling! Hey hey!

VCrowe said...

The view over the basilica is fantastic. Do they have a restaurant up there?

True Knight of Our Lady said...

Very impressive photos. This element of traditional Catholicism needs to be developed.

Ollie said...

I always look forward to your postings. I loved the series on Swedish customs. God bless you Anka! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Anka said...

Philly; the best - your legs (in Swedish sometimes referred to as "apostle's horses", by the way - same in English?)!
VCrowe; wouldn't that be awesome!? No, now there's just you (and co.?), St. Peter's and the starry night sky.
TrueKnightOfOurLady; It's even better in reality - you come away from these trips feeling SO holy - despite the extreme pasta and gelato gluttony...
Ollie; More to come!