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!

Thursday, January 19

Away again - now Vienna

Yeah, I know finals are coming up... it's ok. Really. I'm just going to Vienna for a few days, I'll be back Tuesday. Why am I going? Well, A) because one of the girls here, who is returning to the US soon after one semester here, wanted to go travel before leaving and didn't want to travel alone, and B) I have both a good friend there and, through him, free housing at a religious order's guesthouse in Vienna.

Some of you may remember, if you've been with my on this blog since August, that I really love Vienna after being able to spend so much time there this past summer!

(If you want to see all my photos and commentary from Vienna, by way of WYD, click here)

God bless all of you, you will all be in my prayers, and I do humbly ask for your prayers as well, for both of us who are traveling. Ci vediamo martedi! (See you Tuesday!)

Monday, January 16

Dr. Moynihan - guest professor!

Well, we got a surprise this morning for our Early Christian Worship class... we didn't talk much about early Christian worship, because somehow our professor had been able to arrange for Dr. Robert Moynihan, editor and founder of "Inside the Vatican" magazine, to come and speak with us!

Needless to say we didn't mind too much that we weren't going to be discussing the differences between Ambrose and Cyril of Jerusalem's writings on baptism after all.

Dr. Moynihan talked to us at length about his personal history here in Rome, and his experiences here and in the States throughout the past 20+ years. Very interesting! One story that was very intersting was his overview of the events surrounding his doctoral dissertation research in 1984. He did his doctorate on the influence of Joachim of Fiore on the Franciscan order - apparently a "cardinal in Rome" had written a book in which aspects of this was discussed, and so Moynihan read it as part of his research. Well, one day he met the cardinal, and told him that he had read his book, and the cardinal responded, "you are the only one in Rome who has!" That cardinal was none other than our current pontiff, then Cardinal Ratzinger, prefect for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith!

Dr. Moynihan also mentioned briefly something about the spiritual life of Benedict XVI, that he said "no one has written on yet." He said that before being elected pope, Ratzinger was not in the habit of praying the Rosary every day. That changed following his election as Peter's successor - he said to his secretary, Msgr. Georg Gänswein, that they needed to begin. So, regularly now the two of them say the Rosary together! I sure hope that Dr. Moynihan does speak about this more himself in a future issue of Inside the Vatican - it may seem like a small observation, but I think it is a beautiful sign that points to the far broader and deeper spiritual picture of this pontificate. May Our Lady of the Rosary continue to lead our Holy Father, Benedict XVI, and in turn the flock that he has been charged to shepherd, ever closer to her Son!

And many thanks to Dr. Moynihan for taking time out of his (I am sure) incredibly busy schedule to come and speak to a bunch of eager Catholic undergraduate students!! I encourage everyone to read Inside the Vatican for insightful commentary, theological reflection, and news updates from the heart of the Church in Rome!

Sunday, January 15

A farewell shot from Naples - that's all folks, enjoy the Lord's Day and have a great week. My friend Clayton Emmer (who runs the Weight of Glory blog) is coming to visit today, through Tuesday morning, and will be staying here at the Bernardi house with us - I'm looking forward to it! And of course, as I mentioned earlier, I am going back to Vienna next weekend - joy! So, more news to come God-willing... God bless everyone!

View from the other end of the monastery, with Mount Vesuvius in the background (as close as we got to it this time! :)

The sun sets over Naples and the bay.

The view from the monastery is pretty amazing as well, looking out over the Bay of Naples. It was getting late, and very hazy and dark out when we got outside.

One of the other nativity scenes, the figures here in Naples are amazing, so realistic. No wonder Italians take the Nativity scene so seriously! It's like the Italian dollhouse or model train set!

The museum in the old monastery has an amazing collection of nativity scenes, here is the largest one in Naples. Wow.

All along the railings of the gardens in the cloiser were... carved stone skulls. Just a friendly reminder of what we are becoming...

The walk down to the inner cloiser gardens area, which also has the Carthusian cemetary (the monks were buried there without grave markers, and without coffins).

Example of the inlay panels - pretty impressive.

In the old sacristy area there is a beautiful wooden choir, with inlay designs for each of the panels.

A view from behind the high altar, of the ceiling.

A view of the high altar.

One of the side chapels, each one was done in the same design.

The floor in particular is astonding.

Carthusians are known for being some of the most ascetic of all religious orders, with vows not only of poverty, chastity and obedience, but also of humilty (just an idea of what this entails - they do not publish anything under their names, they are completely cloistered, and they are buried in unmarked graves). But boy do they know how to create beautiful things for the glory of God!! This chapel on the former monastery property (now a museum) is absolutely amazing, with beautiful inlaid marble designs throughout. I cannot even begin to describe the beauty of this church.

After a long lunch, Italian style, Fr. Carola took us up to the heights above Naples, where the old Carthusian monaserty is located, our next and final stop before heading back to the train station.

Another shot of the Naples skyline.

God bless them - what a great family! Not only did they feed us great food, but another member of the family has a vineyard, and so we had homemade "vino rosso" (and also homemade limoncello...), and had some great Italian conversation!

But of course, being real Italians, they opened up their home to us and ended up cooking us a marvelous Italian lunch!! Wonderful people, Italians! :)

Next we walked to the family home of one of Fr. Carola's cousins, just to stop and say hello...

Interior of the Jesuit church - pretty nice indeed. The church is also a site of saintly pilgrimage, with the tomb of a more recent saint, St. Dr. Joseph Moscati (a lay man and medical doctor from the early 20th century, canonized by John Paul II in 1997)

Next, just down the street is the Jesuit church, with a very odd looking facade. Don't let it fool you, the interior is amazing, and looks perhaps more like what the old Poor Clares' church would have looked like. The Jesuits also put up the pillar statue of Our Lady in the piazza that you can see there, the figures around the state pillar are all saints connected to the order I think.

Next we went for a walk down to visit a few more churches of Naples, first we went to the Poor Clares' church. During WWII this church was heavily damaged (from the Allies... bombing from the sea). Much of its original interior has been destroyed, though its current simplicity is attractive as well.

A somewhat closer look at the crucifix painting above the altar.

The side chapel (under renovation, so we couldn't go into it, unfortunately) where St. Thomas celebrated a Mass in which he received a mystical experience of God, and from which he considered all his theological writings, compared to God, to be "it is all straw!"

After visiting the cell of St. Thomas, Fr. Carola celebrated a Mass in his honor in the main church, not far from the chapel with the crucifix that spoke to St. Thomas.

Part of Aquinas' cell was turned into a chapel (though little used now I guess, according to the Dominicans who are there now... very sad).

Somewhere tucked away they had the reliquary that you see on the altar, of the arm bone of St. Thomas Aquinas, which one of the friars brought in to us. I guess it hadn't been in this chapel for a very long time either! I gathered from our experience there that they do not often have pilgrimages coming (!?).

The cell (living quarters) of St. Thomas Aquinas in the friary of the Dominican church and complex there. Aquinas lived here for around two years before leaving for France. On the wall in the back is Thomas' bell.

View of the clerestory in the Dominican church, with beautiful medallions of Dominican saints all along the sides of it.

The Dominican church - the last place where St. Thomas Aquinas stayed before he left on his final journey, dying in the Cistercian abbey of Fossanova in France on the way to the Council of Lyon.

Walking through Naples.

Walking down the streets of Naples, this is the infamous "Nativity street", the street is packed with merchants selling the city's famed nativity sets from December 8th (Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception) until Epiphany (and a bit after for some sellers).

Just another piece of interesting architecture along a Naples street - pretty cool way to span a street, eh?

Another of the smaller side chapels in the Cathedral that I particularly liked - I have no idea who it was dedicated to or who built it, but it was really amazingly carved with gorgeous colors, very medieval looking.

Another "side" of the same San Gennario side chapel. All around the chapel there are these metal (?) busts of saints, many looked to have relics in them - you can see one of them on the left side.

Here is the "side chapel" (pretty big if you ask me) of San Gennario in the Cathedral, I think the miraculous relics are kept here. It is a beautiful chapel.

Naples is known worldwide for its extravagent Nativity scenes, this one in the Cathedral was the first one we experienced (though we discovered they were in many churches), this is only one side of the scene!! Here's a good game - find Jesus!

Here is the interior of the Cathedral of San Gennario, where the miraculous vials of St. Gennario's blood are kept (usually coagulated in their tubes, the blood predictablly and miraculously liquefies on certain feast days of the year!).

Surprise (for you) Trip to Naples!

Surprise, surprise, Fr. Carola took us all to Naples yesterday! I think I forgot to make any mention of it on the blog, I'm telling you, all these things are just kind of happening right and left. I'm just along for the ride, wonder when it will stop?

By the way, did I mention that I'm going to Vienna again next weekend? :)

Happy Birthday to Kara!

Kara's birthday was a bit ago, but in a belated celebration we all took her out to the Hard Rock Cafe on Thursday night, for some American food - bbq ribs, burgers, buffalo wings, and all the goodies that we've been missing for months (much as we love Italian food...)

His lights are on, but maybe nobody's home!

Now this is hilarious... So when we go past St. Pete's in late evening, those cheery lights from the papal apartments may only be a cover for papal wanderings!