Thursday, March 23, 2006 was the only completely free day we had in Rome. There was some event planned for all the other days. We spent this day exploring the beautiful city and some of it’s many churches.

Today has been a very interesting day. We have learned a lot. We woke up early this morning and went upstairs to the dining room for have breakfast. Our hotel is one of the few here which offers a full American style breakfast.

Soon after we sat down, we met a priest, Fr. T., from my diocese. He joined us for breakfast and we had a lovely time eating overcooked scrambled eggs, bacon, and red blood orange juice. We had such a great time that breakfast went on well after we had finished eating. It was well over an hour before we decided that we couldn’t spend the whole day in the dining room.

Father asked us where we were headed for the day and we admitted that we didn’t have a clue. He offered to take us on a tour of Rome. He knew exactly where he was going, or at least pretended to. We went to so many churches that I don’t remember the names of them all. The only one that I remember was Santa Agnese. We also visited the Piazza Farnese and Piazza Navona.

We split at noon as Father had scheduled to have lunch with another priest from our diocese. We went to find, the clerical tailor, Gammarelli. In front of the shop, we met a group of seminarians from the North American College. One f these was from my diocese and a friend of my husband. We took some pictures together and talked briefly before they had to rush to their next class. He was very surprised and took some pictures with us. Afterwards, my husband and I went into Gammarelli to look for some gifts. After looking at many things, including the famous evangelists miter which was popular with so many popes (1,190.00 euro) , we made our selections.

Then we went for lunch because everything was closing for siesta. We found a little pizza place called La Sagrestia on Via Seminario. I got a pizza capriccia with sauce, cheese, prosciutto and mushrooms and peas. My husband had pizza margherita with sauce, cheese and basil. It was delicious.

After lunch we went to the Basilica of Our Lady of the Martyrs, better known as the Pantheon. It is amazing to think that that building is over 2,000 years old. It was built in 27 B.C. St. Peter probably walked right by it, if not St. Peter certainly saw it. I was quite surprised to see a painting where a pope or bishop is wearing the same style pallium as Pope Benedict wears.

As we were leaving we met up with Fr. T again. From there, the three of us went to see the church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva. The church doesn’t look like much from the outside but the interior is breathtaking. It was interesting to see the lines outside which mark the heights the city had flooded to.

As we were leaving it began to pour and then hail. We had to buy umbrellas from one of the many vendors in the square who we had rejected just a few minutes before. After visiting various church supply shops, we took a taxi back to our hotel.

When we got to our hotel, we met Archbishop Dolan from Milwaukee. We spoke with him for a few minutes. He is a delightful man with a great sense of humor. He sounds like a lot of fun to spend the day with. Archbishop Dolan is known to be rather conservative, despite what some people may think that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a sense of humor.

At 6 pm, Fr. T, my husband and I went for dinner at Passegiata sul Borgo, better known as Roberto’s. The restaurant is located on Borgo Pio, which is one of the main streets near the Vatican. The restaurant was empty when we arrived, but it didn’t take long for it to fill up. Most of the diners were clergy and their guests. I have never been in a restaurant before where there was at least one priest at each table. Actually, there were more priests and bishops there than lay people. There were even a few cardinals there. The food was great. I am getting used to the idea of a pasta course, a primi piatti (first course) and so on. We had pasta with meat and cream sauce, cannelloni, and for our main course veal. For dessert we had tartufo. It was all delicious. Dinner was very relaxed and took over 3 hours.

We will be waking up very early tomorrow morning to attend the consistory and the two receptions we have been invited to attend. I can’t wait!

Photos by Domini Sumus.

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