Monday, October 9, 2017

Investiture trip to Malta

Several weeks ago (just before school started - that got me busy again) I traveled with Cardinal O'Brien to Malta - a place with MUCH history - and great connections to Saint Paul (who, as the Acts of the Apostles recounts, was shipwrecked at Malta).

After a Friday afternoon flight (of just a little over an hour) we had Saturday morning free - so I took the opportunity to travel with Fr. Robert Monagle (who is my "boss" at Aviano and just happened to be there that weekend) to the Catacombs of St. Paul.  We also visited St. Paul's Cave - where tradition says St. Paul lived and spent much time in prayer there in Malta - a spot that Pope Saint John Paul II visited as well on his apostolic visit to Malta years ago.

Much like the catacombs here in Rome, these were once used as burial places.  But over the centuries they have been looted and "reclaimed" for other purposes.

 The catacombs

 What they look like above ground

 There are ancient symbols and markings in the catacombs

 Here, on May 27, 1990 Pope John Paul visited this spot and, the sign said, "spent much time in prayer."

 The cave where St. Paul lived
I like this lamp - formed as a ship to remind us of Paul's shipwreck here in Malta.

Then, in the afternoon, the Investiture ceremonies began.  Here are some photos from the day:

 Cardinal O'Brien enters St. John's co-cathedral

 On entering, we pause to pray before the Blessed Sacrament

 Cardinal O'Brien delivers the homily

 The Lieutenants who were present 

 The Knights and Dames of the Order in Malta

 The servers did an excellent job - tho most said this was their first time.  You'd never have guessed!

 There is also a Caravaggio of the beheading of St. John the Baptist in the Co-Cathedral.

Memorial of St. John Leonardi

Today the Church celebrates the optional memorial of St. John Leonardi - and so I continued my custom of visiting churches where a saint is buried on their feast-day.  So today I stopped by the church of Santa Maria in Campietlli here in Rome (not too far off my normal route home from school - which was a plus).  

Who was St. John?  I "borrowed" this from Franciscan Catholic Media:

Saint John Leonardi’s Story

“I am only one person! Why should I do anything? What good would it do?” Today, as in any age, people seem plagued with the dilemma of getting involved. In his own way, John Leonardi answered these questions. He chose to become a priest.
After his ordination, Fr. Leonardi became very active in the works of the ministry, especially in hospitals and prisons. The example and dedication of his work attracted several young laymen who began to assist him. They later became priests themselves.
John lived after the Protestant Reformation and the Council of Trent. He and his followers projected a new congregation of diocesan priests. For some reason the plan, which was ultimately approved, provoked great political opposition. John was exiled from his home town of Lucca, Italy, for almost the entire remainder of his life. He received encouragement and help from Saint Philip Neri, who gave him his lodgings—along with the care of his cat!
In 1579, John formed the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, and published a compendium of Christian doctrine that remained in use until the 19th century.
Father Leonardi and his priests became a great power for good in Italy, and their congregation was confirmed by Pope Clement in 1595. John died at the age of 68 from a disease caught when tending those stricken by the plague.
By the deliberate policy of the founder, the Clerks Regular of the Mother of God have never had more than 15 churches, and today form only a very small congregation.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola

As you may remember, one of the things I've been trying to do as often as possible is visit the tomb of saints buried here in Rome on their feast day.  Today, July 31, is the Memorial of St. Ignatius of Loyola - the founder of the Jesuits and author of the Spiritual Exercises (which if you ever have the chance to make them - or even part of them, DO IT!!

So, today I went to the Gesù - the home church of the Jesuits here in Rome.  It is a late Renaissance church, originally very austere, but opulently decorated starting in the 17th century.  Now its frescoes, sculptures and shrines make it one of the foremost examples of Roman Baroque art.

In 1540, Saint Ignatius of Loyola needed a church to serve as the center of his newly founded Society of Jesus (the Jesuits), which the Farnese-family Pope Paul III formally recognized that year.  One of the society's members was the priest of a church called Our Lady of the Way, which the Pope designated as the Society's official church.  St. Ignatius, finding the church too small, began fundraising to construct a church worthy of the "Name of Jesus."  It took him 10 years to get the necessary permits (yes, even then you needed permits to build) before he could break ground.

But the original site wasn't ideal, so new plans were drawn up with Michelangelo being involved in the design.  A second ground-breaking ceremony took place, but this time wealthy neighbors fought the construction which would affect their houses.  The Pope's relative, Cardinal Farnese, agreed to fund the church and the final groundbreaking took place in 1568, 18 years after the first.  Unfortunately, St. Ignatius never lived to see the construction, but the church became his final resting place, making Il Gesù an important shrine for pilgrims to this very day.

Like many churches, Il Gesù has a transept that intersects the nave to create a footprint which forms the shape of a cross.  In the left transept is the tomb of St. Ignatius of Loyola.  Using silver, gold, bronze, rare marbles and minerals like malachite, lapis lazuli and porphyry, the Jesuit artist Andrea Pozzo employed over 100 craftsmen to create one of the wonders of Roman Baroque art.  

Above the tomb there is a large painting of St. Ignatius receiving a "standard" (flag) from God (if you've made the Spiritual Exercises, you'll get that immediately).  Behind it is a large statue of St. Ignatius.  The original statue was made of pure silver, but unfortunately, when the church was confiscated during the occupation of Napoleon's troops, the Pope ordered it melted down to pay taxes to Napoleon.  Pozzo created a "conversion machine" or macchina barocca to unveil the statue.  During the day, the painting is seen.  But daily at 5:30pm the macchina is employed, music is played, the story of St. Ignatius is told, and the statue is revealed:  (I tried to hold steady, but I got tired.  Sorry)

Also in the Gesù is the right arm of St. Francis Xavier.  I paused to pray here for the people of St. Francis Xavier parish in Gettysburg.  

The ceiling is also spectacular.  Before leaving I prayed evening prayer in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel.
The blessed Sacrament Chapel

 Just to prove I really was there...

So, that was my visit today to the Gesù - the burial place of St. Ignatius of Loyola on his feast day.  

Monday, July 3, 2017

Camino Day 5 - the Last day - arrival at Santiago

Today we again got an early start - left by 8am (but didn't say Mass in the albergue).  We arrived in the small town of Vila maior within 20 minutes, then on to San Marcos and Monte do Gozo.

I just like these LONG shadows...

The Monte do Gozo means "Mount of Joy."  After having washed at Lavacolla, they came to the top of this hill (and it was a LOT of upward climbing) to the top of this hill which looks out over the city of Santiago de Compostela and the spires of the Cathedral in the distance.  The joy came from what the pilgrims felt at seeing their journey's end - the Cathedral.  There is a statue of 2 pilgrims looking out toward the Cathedral.

Energized by sight of our goal, we headed down toward the city...  

And we entered Santiago!

And made it to the Cathedral!  We went strogzth there - prayed a prayer of thanksgiving for our pilgrimage - thankful that, while sore, none of us were seriously injured.  We went to the Pilgrim Office to get our credentials and certificates of Completion and prayed in the Cathedral for a bit.

The tomb of Saint James and the Cathedral

And then we celebrated with a nice lunch - and a beer (or two)!

Camino Day 4

Again, learning from past mistakes, today we got a REALLY early start - so after Mass and breakfast (leftover fajitas from last night) we were out the door by 8:30am headed toward Pregontono.

It was along this stretch of the Camino that we met a woman from Ireland - who was there with a group of young people - but she was walking by herself for a bit.  This is funny story!

We were walking along talking about pranks that happen in the seminary - and I was recounting how a friend had put holes (from a hole puncher) on top of the blades of my ceiling fan.  When I turned it on, they went everywhere... Then we started saying how the only thing that would have been worse was if it was glitter... and we started talking about how we hate those "glitter cards"... and we discussed our dislike for glitter.  At which point the Irish lady stopped, turned around, and said (in a lovely Irish brogue), "Is that what you boys talk about on the Camino?  Glitter?  Here I thought you'd be talking about sports or something, but, NO!  Glitter!"  No matter how much we tried to tell her we were talking about our dislike for glitter, the "damage" was done.  "I can't wait to go home and tell me friends that you were talking about glitter!  A priest and three seminarians, and glitter!"  We all had a good laugh.

But this was a really beautiful section of the Camino - through the woods until we ended up along a road again.

Oh, yea - and we passed this little place with these really weird ant sculptures...

And this was our "wrong turn."  The signs got a little confusing and we, along with the people ahead of us, made a very slight wrong turn - but got right back on track quickly.

We went through the towns of Burres, Bente, Salceda - where there was a nice spot to pause and have a drink - we've been on the road for about 2 hours now - time for a rest.  But we continued on to A Brea and Santa Irene - where we paused for some lunch (and again, a nice, cold beer!).

We refilled our water bottles and got back on the road - to A R'ua, O Pedrouzo, Amenal, San Paso and  finally Lavacolla - our destination for the night.

In Lavacolla we stayed at a real albergue - although we had a private room... well, the four of us in one room.  And a shared bath that was... well, "less than enjoyable" was how one of our brothers put it.  In fact, so "less than enjoyable", that none of us took a shower - just a "French Bath" as my grandmother used to call it.  Kind of appropriate... In ancient times when pilgrims were close to the end of the pilgrimage it was customary to stop at a stream which flowed from the town to wash themselves before making the final journey down to the Cathedral.  The name is said to derive from the pilgrims pay particular attention to washing their backsides - because literally translated "Lavacolla" means "washing the tail." 

We wandered out for dinner to the Hotel Rota Jacobea - but it wasn't open yet - so we just had a few drinks and ended up at San Paio where we had a nice meal.  Went back to get right to bed for our last day on our Camino Journey.