Via Media

Via Media

Fourth in the Pub Quiz and Other Matters

Hello again from Rome. Day one was very, very full – as in I left my apartment at 8 or so and didn’t return until 11:30. But a very good day!
David was not working until late afternoon, so it was my day to drag him around to sites he hadn’t yet seen in his three months in Rome. Which was just about everything.
Well, he has been doing the living in Rome thing and immersing himself in la dolce Vita and and all that, and he’s been through the Vatican museums and the Coliseum and goes to Mass at St. Peter’s every Sunday, but he’s so busy working and figuring life out that sightseeing is not exactly high on his list.
(caveat – forgive the spelling, because I don’t have time to double check. And forgive random strange punctuation marks – this keyboard!)
Began the day at St. Maria in Trastevere, one of the oldest churches in Rome, in origin. Moved on to St. Cecilia, which was closed, unfortunately – perhaps they were recovering from her feastday celebrations, for the only activity I could see was the removal of bunting from over the door. Oh, I forgot…
Since David and I were not meeting until ten, and I arose pretty early, I had I made my way slowly down the HILL to Trastevere and wandered about there, seeing children being walked to school, mostly, it seemed, by their fathers, happening into the Basilica of S. Crisogono, which was open, yes, but fairly dark inside (normal) and bearing a bit of scaffolding within.
I finally discerned the light at the altar, and a priest in red vestments. Okay, might as well go to Mass!
The priest was ancient. At least 80. Most of the very small congregation was ancient, too, except for me and one fellow. A couple more younger (by that I mean in their 40s or so) folks drifted in as time went on.
Not having time to look things up and not really understanding the whispered Italian, I am presuming the feast day of St. Cecilia was moved to Monday, since he was wearing red. He began Mass, spoke quite a long time at the introduction, then moved on. And elderly lady did the readings and basically stood around a lot in the sanctuary, even though she didn’t actually serve. I am not sure why she wouldn’t leave.  As is the case with most Italian liturgies I’ve attended, there were no worries about the congregation all doing the exact same thing at the same time. At any one moment during the liturgy, two people were sitting, one was standing and two were kneeling. And one knelt through the entire Mass.
At Communion, the priest left the altar and went to a side chapel. I mean – before he received Communion himself. I thought he was getting reserved hosts to bring back, but a few seconds past, and he didn’t return. The other congregants actually looked a little confused, too. Finally, the elderly lady assistant walked over there, peered in, and motioned the rest of us in  – he was giving Communion from the side chapel, where there rested either the body or a wax effigy of a woman.  I discerned it was a Blessed who lived in the 18th century (I have the holy card in the apartment so I can’t look it up) , so I’m thinking it might have really been her. I don’t know. But it was interesting to walk in there, unsuspecting, to receive Communion in the presence of the Blessed lying there under the altar. To say the least.
All right, back to the tour – we have just left St. Cecilia, frustrated, because I really wanted to see that statue of St. Cecilia (I’ll go back later this week). We crossed the Tiber at the island, went into St. Bartholomew, which is a San’Egidio church, and which has a very interesting set of displays in the side altars  of relics from contemporary martyrs, including a letter handwritten by Franz Jaegstatter and an altar missal of Archbishop Romero’s.
Then across, seeing the Hebrew Museum of Rome, noting that for perhaps a future visit if I have time, then up through Piazza Farnese to Campo di Fiorie, where we had a fruit break – David an apple, and me a huge, gorgeous delicious pear. And yes, I took obligatory “Campo di Fiori Market pictures”, but again, I can’t do anything on this computer. So.
Then up and across to Piazza Navona, where I noted the toy store that Joseph had spotted our first night in Rome last time and which we had held over his head for a couple of days as a bribe – “If you’re good…” and as it turned out he was, so he got a small Lego set there that was a great purchase since it amused him for at least five evenings straight.
Caravaggio time – to S. Luigi di Francesco (I tell you I am not checking spelling) for the Matthew paintings and then to S. Agostino for the Madonna of Loreto and a prayer at the tomb of S. Monica.
(other things were observed too…I’m just hitting the highlights)
Over to the Pantheon, with a brief pizza stop in between, mine full of fresh tomatoes and peppers, with that fantastic really light crust.  In case you don’t know, when you buy pizza at one of the countless storefront pizza places, what you do is indicate how much you want of the pizza on display, they weigh it, heat it up, fold it in half, wrap it in paper, so it is much like a sandwich, and you enjoy. So simple, and something that no one in the States seems to be able to duplicate.
Then to S. Maria San Sopra Minerva, to enjoy that church, which is one of my favorites. We came in just as the Dominicans were finishing up their noon prayer in one of the side chapels – wish we’d gotten there  a bit sooner.
Then…I can’t remember. I think at that point we headed up to Piazza del Popolo, which I had entirely missed last time. The churches were closed by that time, though (most of them close between about noon and three or thereabouts, except for the big ones). So…I can’t remember. Truly. I’ll have to think about it. We ended up at Barberini (from the Metro), where we went to S. Maria di Vittoria to see Bernini’s Teresa of Avila, then pop into S. Susannah, the American parish in Rome, just so David would know where it was in case he craved Mass in English. Cardinal Foley is saying Mass there Thursday morning for Thanksgiving, so we might go to that.
By then it was time to part – David had to go to work, and I had to kill time before the Pub Quiz. Before that, we got back to S. Maria del Popolo, which was open, saw Caravaggioìs Peter and Paul. Then to Flaminio, where he took his train to his work spot, and crammed myself on the Metro to go down to Termini, where I had two tasks – to catch the 40 bus back to Largo Argentina and then to the Scholar’s Pub for the Pub Quiz, but before that to find a voltage converter in one of the countless stores in the Mall at Termini. No luck. Absolutely no luck. I,m going to the Vatican area later today, so hopefully in the tourist-oriented stores there I can find one.
Found the bus, got on, crawled to Largo Argentina, then walked to the Pub, where Charley Collins of Vatican Radio was preparing the ground for his weekly pub quiz , which was tremendous fun – he very kindly formed a team for me, and we were competitive, but unfortunately didn’t win place or show. Maybe next time, if there is a next time!
The odd thing about going to Rome for me is that it feels very familiar and like home, in a way. The internet has added to an already present sense of familiarity and comfort because of the whole Catholic thing, in that the “new” people I meet are already almost acquaintances through a few degrees of separation or by blog reading or being fellow bloggers and such.  It was sort of sad to think, well, no I won’t be here next Monday…
David showed up eventually, as did one of his roommates, and they did their part in the quiz. Rode the 8 tram back to Trastevere, David walked me back up the mountain to the apartment, then went back to his.
Today? Not sure. I have a lunch appointment in the Vatican area, have to pick up General Audience tix after that. We’ll see.
Miss you all! Wish you were here!

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Michael Tinkler

posted November 25, 2008 at 4:54 am

Sounds like a GREAT walking day! What a lot of Caravaggios! And pizza!
For voltage converters – there are a couple of elettrodomestici (home electrics) stores along via Vittorio Emmanuele II between Largo Argentina and the Tiber – the bigger one is a couple of blocks down on the right; they’ll have them. I’m sure there are some along the viale Trastevere, too, but I don’t know shopping there.

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posted November 25, 2008 at 8:06 am

Try the church of San Francesco a Ripa in Trastevere. Bernini’s “Death of the Blessed Ludovica Albertoni” in a side chapel there is, IMHO, even greater than the justly famous St. Theresa.

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posted November 25, 2008 at 8:42 am


posted November 25, 2008 at 9:21 am

Hi Amy,
Most of my memories of Rome are food-related :-)
There is a wonderful bakery on Via del Moro (near Santa Maria) in Trastevere. It’s across the street from the Amost Corner bookstore (a great little English bookstore with a friendly Irish owner). I know it’s hard to find a less-than-wonderful bakery in Rome, but this place was special…had Pizza Bianca and pastries to-die-for.
Another place I absolutely loved was a shop called Ai Monasteri on Corso Rinascimento, 72. (It’s a block behind Piazza Navona if you are walking in the general direction of the Pantheon). The shop sells wines, chocolates and other products from Italian monasteries. The atmosphere is magical and I wish I’d bought another suitcase full of gifts:
One place I missed, but is on my list for my next visit, is a museum cafe on Via della Pace behind Piazza Navona (on the opposite side of the piazza behind Tre Scalini). The caferteria is inside Bramante’s cloister of the Church of Santa Maria della Pace. You can enjoy Baroque art while having coffee inside a lovely cloister.
Have a great time,

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posted November 25, 2008 at 10:23 am

Wish we were there too! :-) I’ve likewise noticed that there is something that feels very much like home about Rome.
I think Monday’s Mass commemorated Saints Andrew Dung-Lac and his Companions. Our orthodox downtown parish priest wears red on all days remembering martyrs.

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posted November 25, 2008 at 11:14 am

Holy Mass on Monday was the memorial of St. Andrew Dung Lac and companions- martyrs, thus red. Buon Viaggio a Roma!

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posted November 25, 2008 at 1:16 pm

Wish I was there, too!
I went to Italy with a group several years ago. I am living vicariously through you right now.

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John Desmond

posted November 25, 2008 at 1:20 pm

In regard to the red vestments, Monday was the feast of Andrew Dung-Lac and the Vietnamese Martyrs.

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posted November 25, 2008 at 4:23 pm

I was only in Rome once a few years back for 5 days and I also noticed it felt very much like home. I didn’t know a soul but it still felt like I’d lived there my whole life. Leaving was a bit of a shock.

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posted November 25, 2008 at 4:35 pm

I feel like I’m the only person who reads your blog who doesn’t know you personally and who has never been to Italy. But I am enjoying this, thank you.

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posted November 25, 2008 at 8:18 pm

So, You were in Boston’s little corner of Rome.
Since created a cardinal, Bernard Law’s titular church has been Santa Susanna (as his predecessor cardinal-archbishops of Boston, Cushing and Medeiros)……something of a burden of late to the Paulists who serve there and to the USA expats who make it their home, and, no, he did not give this up when he got a day job as archpriest at S Maria Maggiore.
Anyway, as the days approached for archbishop Sean’s creation as cardinal, various of us wondered if the Vatican officials who officiate at such would transfer this titular to him. After all, he does stand on the shoulders of Cushing, Medeiros, and Law. What delicious interest in that detail of the consistroy – only to hear Sean announced with Santa Maria Della Vittoria. Some of us could not believe the great sense of humor in those officials! Not for nothing do they officiate!
Amy, standing there at that intersection, one readily sees that Sean got the twin of Susanna, There are the two facades….. Bernie not leaving Susanna, OK, give its sibling church – with comparable facade, similar shapes, and some of the same architects to Sean. Right there, lined up with S. Susanna and facing the same street, just separated by a cross street. So, there presiding over that intersection are the old and new Bostons.
BTW, in his blog of Nov. 21, Cardinal Sean reports on his recent days in Rome and on this church of his. Interesting words, and even more interesting photos,
Looking ahead, Amy, the North American College has a USA-Thanksgiving dinner for many expats…you probably have a contact there to see if list can include you. I hope that you are considering first vespers of Advent with the pope on Saturday (tix not too hard to get), and popping into the pastoral visitation he is making on Sunday to S. Lorenzo fuori mure. He is great at these visitations, and it’s inspiring to see him do the “local” thing and be specifically the bishop of Rome. He’s very good at this, too. At a recent visitation, I saw the altar server drop his miter just as she was getting up to go give it to him. Horrors and fright! The pope reached over to her, thanked her for the miter, and kissed the top of her head. Few MC’s intervening, the pope and his parish.
Since you are over Trastevere way, I hope that some weekday night you get to the 20:30 S Egidio prayer at Santa Maria in Trastevere, and recall a posting I left some time ago re. the 19:00 Sunday eucharist according to liturgy of St John Chrysostom there…a truly vibrant expression of that tradition.
Enjoy some gnocchi…and remember the in season artichokes!
Tom Ryan

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John Michael - Catholic Prayers for Healing

posted November 26, 2008 at 10:59 am

Can’t wait to see pics!

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