Highlights of our three days in the Eternal City:
- Admiring two famous Caravaggio paintings, The Conversion on the Way to Damascus (St. Paul) and The Cucifixion of St. Peter in the church of Santa Maria del Popolo. I was absolutely awestruck by their super-realistic, three-dimensional quality – photos simply cannot do them justice!
- Tossing my coin into the Trevi Fountain for the second time, in hopes of returning to Rome someday. Hey, it worked the first time!
- Visiting a gelateria (ice cream shop) that boasted over 100 flavors of gelato. Yes, please!
- Having gelato and espresso for breakfast… twice!
- Praying outside the Mamertine Prison, traditionally believed to be the place where Sts. Peter and Paul were imprisoned in Rome. Unfortunately it was closed, and we didn’t get to go inside.
- Stumbling upon the tomb of St. Benedict Joseph Labre, the “Beggar Saint,” in an out-of-the-way church we just happened to stop into. I’d learned about him during my mission year with the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal.
- Praying at the tomb of Bl. John Paul II in St. Peter’s Basilica
- Visiting St. Paul’s Outside the Walls for the first time and praying at the tomb of St. Paul (Whoa!)
- Singing the Salve Regina with pilgrims from all over the world as daily Mass ended in Santa Maria Maggiore
- Climbing the Scala Sancta (the Holy Stairs) on our knees