Sacred Splendor | POSTCARDS FROM ROME 2024

June 20, 2024
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Top 5 Highlights of the Week

1. Classes at Santa Croce

This week, the seminarians took a course on sacred art with Professor John Noronha. We learned about the symbolism and faith that goes into good sacred art. Prof. Noronha showed how, through the analogy of faith, we can draw connections between Scripture, the Liturgy, and Sacred art—all in the service of evangelizing the world through beauty and spiritual joy. This class inspired us to more attentively listen to the word of God and look more closely for the message of sacred art.

2. Wednesday General Audience with Pope Francis

Along with thousands of other pilgrims, we had the honor of attending a Wednesday Audience with Pope Francis. After he circled the square greeting pilgrims in his “popemobile,” there was a reading of 2 Peter 1:20-21 in Italian, English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, German, Polish, and Arabic. His Holiness gave a reflection on the inspiration of Scripture and the importance of Lectio Divina. He encouraged everyone to carry a copy of the Gospels to read throughout the day. It was a beautiful moment of experiencing the universality and unity of the Church.

3. Visit to the Dicastery for Bishops

We visited the Dicastery for Bishops. His Eminence Cardinal Robert Francis Prevost explained what the Dicastery does in assisting the Pope in his appointment of bishops throughout the world and supporting their ministry. Afterwards, His Eminence took questions from the group and encouraged us to strive for priestly holiness.

4. Caravaggio

This was the week of Caravaggio. In the context of our classes with Prof. Noronha, we saw four of his paintings in person. On a visit to Sant’Agostino (St. Augustine’s—where St. Monica is buried!), we contemplated his Marian work The Madonna of Loreto. Later, in the French church in Rome (San Luigi dei Francesi), our devotion to St. Matthew was nourished by three works: The Calling of Saint Matthew, The Inspiration of Saint Matthew, and The Martyrdom of Saint Matthew. So often, sacred art ends up in museums. It was encouraging to see such works in their proper context: a church!

5. The Long Weekend

Many of us made good use of the long weekend to travel. Trips included visits to Siena, Venice, and Padua. Some experienced Italian culture in a new way, as train strikes temporarily stranded them! Thanks be to God, everyone got back to Rome safely, if a little late. Others took advantage of the extra free time to rest and recharge for the coming week.

Deacon Peter Whitfield
Diocese of Dallas