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!

Sunday, November 6

The Work of God

St. Josemaria EscrivaYesterday I had the wonderful joy of visiting one of the least known places in Rome - the tomb of St. Josemaria Escriva, the founder of the ecclesial movement Opus Dei. It was an opportunity, like most in Rome I've discovered, that was an unexpected blessing. Our chaplain at the program here, Fr. Carola, had stopped by the house and a few of the guys invited him to come with them in search of St. Josemaria Escriva's tomb. They had heard that it was not too far away from our house in an Opus Dei church, and as they both have deep devotion to the saint (as well as having him as a patron for their seminary floor back home) they wanted to go on pilgrimage... Fr. kindly agreed to come too (good thing, as we discovered!) as he had been there before... so he thought.

Well, we got to the church and discovered that while there was a very nice relic of St. Escriva there, his body was no longer there. A nice Italian lady (talking all grandma-like in Italian, very sweet :) wagged her fingers and told us "no, no, Josemaria isn't here, he's up at the main Opus Dei house just up the hill, just go across the street and up the hill, he's there" -- hmmm. Well, we weren't going to stop now, so off we went, way up the hill. We finally make it to the address she gave us (it was NOT "just" up the hill!), and we just look at each other... it looked just like any other modern aparatment/office building made in the 50s. Definitely not like a religious organization's international "headquarters".

Well, we buzz the entrance and are let in immediately, and the Italian lady goes off to find us an Opus Dei "tour guide" that speaks English. A wonderful man named Michael, from Poland, comes to meet us and takes us through the "house" - it is absolutely nothing like it looks on the outside. It is very well designed inside, with beautiful paintings and sculptures all over, quite ornate really. There are so many nooks and crannies, and little rooms everywhere, it really reminded us of a medieval palace or something. We were shown the Blessed Sacrament chapel, as well as the little room where St. Josemaria was buried before he was beatified in the 1990s. Now, in that spot there is buried the second leader of Opus Dei after St. Escriva, I forget his name. In another little "masuoleum room" nearby is buried St. Escriva's sister, Carmen. Up the stairs we went then, and came out in one of the most amazing little chapels I have ever seen - it is a completely interior room (at first it doesn't seem like it, as there are "windows", but they are lit from lights behind them) that is done in the Baroque style, with choir-style seating in the nave and a beautiful sanctuary area at one end with a glorious baldichino over the altar, which in turn is over the sarcophagus containing St. Escriva's body. It is all done with beautiful painting, wood carving, and marble - gorgeous. It was so quiet in there, I was amazed, here in Rome so often the sites of saints are so busy with people that it can be difficult to pray there. But here, in a place "hidden" under the strict controls of Opus Dei, only those who truly want to pray and have a devotion to St. Escriva actually come. It was truly splendid.

I do not have a photo myself of the interior of the chapel, as they would prefer there to be no photography in the chapel (for obvious reasons), however I did find this photo online, it does not show it the best, but at least you might get the basic idea.

If any of you are in Rome, or ever come to Rome, and have a devotion to St. Escriva, please take the time to come and find him here, and to participate in the spiritual life of Opus Dei while you are here. In the little chapel there is a beautiful daily Latin Mass at 12:00 noon, and there is almost always an English-speaking Opus Dei priest around to hear confession. Find out more about Opus Dei at their website.


Post a Comment

<< Home