The Roamin' Roman

Benvenuto! You have happened upon the blog of a wandering Catholic American college student studying for a year in Rome, the Eternal City. You will find here my pontifications, ruminations, reflections, images, and ponderings on my life in Rome. Ciao!

Monday, August 15

Sunday August 14th / Monday August 15th

Well, we made it to Turin, in the far northwestern part of Italy. It was kind of funny, on the way in the bus our guide just innocently asked us why we wanted to go to Turin again? We explained again about the desire we had to visit the home region of Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati (as well as visit the place where the Shroud is kept), he just kind of shook his head and smiled. When we asked further he explained that in 10 years of guiding, he had never taken a group of people to Turin, that there was not much there honestly. Then again, we realized that he had not really had much experience taking a "religious" group anywhere, and didn't quite know what to make of us, being basically a "cultural Catholic" himself. He admires the architecture and art of the Church, and perhaps would go so far as to admit belief in the Church on a basic level, but definitely has been quite bemused thus far by the various churchy-things that we want to do and see. I think he is also enjoying himself though, we want to go to places that he's never been too, and so he gets to go see something new too, and not just the same old duomos and art museums that I think his normal groups ask to go to. :)

Anyway, we began our day on Sunday by leaving our hotel in Siena late. As usual... So we didn't make it into Turin until noon. We had arranged to have Mass at the Basilica of Corpus Domini in Turin, the site of another Eucharistic Miracle. The basic story is that in 1453, theives stole a large tabernacle containing the Eucharist. On their way out of the city, the tabernacle vanished, and the Eucharist that was inside remained suspended in the air among them. The Eucharist was returned to the church, and the church of Corpus Domini (The Body of the Lord) was built. It is a very beautiful church, the priest who was there when we arrived has only been assigned to the parish for a couple of months, he is a professor at the seminary in dogmatic theology. Because of the priest shortage here in Italy (not just in America!) he is having to take up other duties as well as his professorship. I talked with him for quite a few minutes, he is a very interesting priest. The Basilica of Corpus Domini, he was proud to point out, is the principal church for the people of the city of Turin. I can understand why, it is definitely more of a "parish" than the Cathedral is.

Speaking of which, next we walked to the Cathedral to see the exhibit on the Shroud of Turin (the Shroud itself is not visible, it will not be taken out for veneration again until 2025, the next jubilee year) and to visit the tomb of Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati, which is currently in one of the Cathedral's side altars. It was a very moving experience to see both the Shroud replica (on display) and Frassati's tomb. Two very poignant reminders of the reality of the mysteries of our faith, both the mystery of the life and saving death of Jesus Christ and the mystery of the call to holiness and ultimately sainthood that each one of us, in our own way, is meant for. More on Frassati later... boy do we have a story to tell!!

But first - on Sunday afternoon we went to the church of Our Lady, Help of Christians, the parish church of St. John Bosco. He is buried there, as well as two other saints connected with him, St. Dominic Savio and St. Mary Mazzerella. The church is run by the Salesians, and they welcomed us with open arms. On short notice they allowed us the opportunity to have a Eucharistic Holy Hour in a quiet chapel - we found out that this chapel was actually the first chapel of the church complex and boys' school that St. John Bosco founded. At our Holy Hour one of our pilgrims spoke quite powerfully on the meaning of the Eucharist in our lives, telling us of her own experiences and encounters with our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.

After a good night's sleep, we woke up to realize that it was the 15th of August, the solemnity of the Assumption of our Lady! And we were going to Pollone (the home of Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati) and then to the shrine of our Lady of Oropa, high up in the foothill mountains of the mighty Italian Alps. Our first miracle was being able to go to Pollone at all. Thankfully, we had been able to call Orsola, Frassati's great-niece who is from Rome, and she was able to tell our tour guide Amadeo how to get to Pollone and who to contact at the house to allow us inside. And guess what??? Not only were we able to go inside of Pier Giorgio Frassati's house, and see his childhood room, and see the bed upon which he died, we were able to celebrate the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in the room with his deathbed and all his things from his last days alive on earth!! What blessings and joy we all feel tonight after coming home from this wonderful experience of Providential Love! The Frassati family is wonderful, completely generous with their time and their home. The kids were really cute too :) We were able to meet Frassati's sister Lucinda (who is turning 103 years old in just a couple of days!!) and the other family who are here in Pollone. I really want to return someday to this place, I hope to be able to call them at some point while I am in Rome and arrange to stay for a weekend or something.

Well, that was certainly the high point of our day (Mass always is of course, but particularly so today!), but then we got to go UP into the mountains that Frassati so dearly loved. The Shrine of Oropa is dedicated to our Lady, and has in its basilica church a beautiful ancient statue of the Madonna and Child, known as the "Black Madonna" because the skin color of both is quite dark. Oropa is set in a beautiful location, nestled in a small valley in the foothills of the Alps. There are shrines all over the valley around the central basilica, and there are numerous hiking paths going up the mountainside. Frassait himself came here frequently, but particularly on the feast days of our Lady. To be here on her feast of the Assumption was so special I cannot describe it here! Myself, I did not actually climb very far up the mountain, instead I went up just a little ways beyond the new basilica, and then heard the sound of running water... Upon investigation I found a lovely stream coming down the mountain with glacial rocks. I ended up staying there to meditate and pray (and call the parents - love you Mom & Dad!).

We came down the mountain and drove back to Turin... Soon as I am finished uploading here I am going to bed - we leave EARLY tomorrow for Milan for our flights to Cologne. Their flight leaves around 10:30 am our time, my flight (I am going separately because I am joining up with the Emmanuel Community instead for WYD) doesn't leave until the evening... so I'm alone in Milan for the whole day! Yikes!

I have no idea when I will have internet access again... soon as I do I will post another update and hopefully photos!


  • At 8:35 AM, Blogger Clayton said…


    Thanks for creating such an awesome travelblog! It's the next best thing to being there. Please say a prayer for all of the anawim in Los Angeles. Union of prayers...

  • At 12:58 PM, Blogger MNGOPGIRL said…

    Hey Mary - wonderful site....what a great adventure you are on...I am so happy to travel to Italy vicariously through you. I can't wait for the next update!!! Love the pictures, love the descriptions, love all of it.



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