The Church’s True Treasure | Postcards from Rome 2021

June 19, 2021
  • Catacombs

Another look at the riches of the third week!

Highlights from Week 3 (June 7-13)

1. The Catacombs of St. Callixtus
2. Touring the Basilica of St. John Lateran with Sr. Emanuela
3. The Scavi Tour (St. Peter’s Tomb)
4. Unintentionally finding The Calling of St. Matthew by Caravaggio
5. Prayer with my brothers in all of these beautiful churches!

The Rome Experience has been an enormous blessing! Never before has the reality of holiness and sanctity felt so tangible. God is actually calling me and everyone else to become saints. I have heard this said time and time again, but there is something much different about the experience of such realities.

Ever since our visit to Orvieto where the cathedral is dedicated to the famous Eucharistic miracle of Bolsena, one thought has been stuck in my head: why did the people build this church and every other church in Italy so elegantly? What was it that they desired? These churches are extravagant. Surely, this money could have been spent in different ways. And yet, the people chose to build these churches without cutting corners on excellence. Why? Because they found a treasure worth more than anything else in life.

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells us this parable, “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it” (Matt 13:45-46). The words “all that he had” continue to fascinate me. The merchant did not sell just some of his possessions or just enough, but he sold all. He was willing to sacrifice everything he had for the sake of the pearl. We, however, are not trying to buy pearls. We seek something even more valuable.

When we had Mass at the Catacombs of St. Callixtus, Father said in his homily that the true treasure of the Church is not found in the riches and beauty of the churches in Rome. Instead, the true treasure of our Church is found beneath our feet, buried in the ground. The treasure is all the Christians who died for Christ, holding firm to their faith in His promises.

Back home, it is easy to forget about striving for holiness—but not in Rome. The presence of Christian Saints is in every piazza, on every street, and in every church. Even the hotel we are staying at used to be the home of three saints. I cannot help but contemplate the treasure that all of these saints found in Christ Jesus. Truly there is something greater than any earthly riches here.

Phillip Rogier
Diocese of Evansville