The Splendor of the Papal Basilicas | Postcards from Rome 2023
Top 5 Highlights of the Week
1. Class with Fr. Gahl
Our course with Father Gahl came to a close this week, concluding our discussion on the human person and philosophical trends today, particularly in the realm of the current issues regarding gender identity. Fr. Gahl ended his class with some very concrete advice on how to balance respect for all persons and to have a deep love for each one with an untiring love of the truth. In our world today, this seems impossible, but the key is to live in the truth and to then share it in sincere Charity.
2. The General Papal Audience
On Wednesday, we were blessed to attend the General Papal Audience in St. Peter’s Square where our Holy Father prayed before the relics of St. Therese which had been brought to Rome for a short amount of time. He then addressed us by using St. Therese and her love and intercessory prayer for so many missionaries (although she never left the confines of her cloister) as an example for evangelization and urged us to look to this Saint and her evangelical zeal as a guide to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
3. St. Paul’s Outside the Walls
On Thursday, we visited and toured St. Paul’s Outside the Walls, where the body of St. Paul is buried beneath the high altar. This basilica has been one of the most peaceful places to pray and has the unique feature of housing the portraits of all the popes from St. Peter to Pope Francis. While visiting the basilica, we were able to celebrate Holy Mass and then have lunch with Cardinal Harvey, former Prefect of the Papal Household. He is truly a delightful and generous man and simply to be in his presence was a gift. Following lunch, he led us in prayer at the tomb of St. Paul before we departed.
4. A Hidden Gem
Our whole group was able to attend the Scavi tour (the tour of the ruins beneath St. Peter’s) and see not only the old Roman Necropolis beneath the Vatican, but also the place where St. Peter was martyred and then buried. At the end of the tour we saw the place where his bones are currently kept and were able to spend a few moments in prayer before his relics. Then, after a sort of “midterm exam” a small group of us were able to attend Holy Mass in the Clementine Chapel. This is the closest one can be to the bones of St. Peter for the celebration of the Holy Mass, even closer than the Pope is when he celebrates Mass at the high altar in St. Peter’s Basilica. This was a special treat for the men able to attend and was a beautiful experience.
5. The Seven Churches Tour
On Saturday, we participated in the long practiced seven churches pilgrimage which has been a tradition for many years. Many saints walked to the seven churches along this route (St. Peter’s Basilica, St. Mary Major, St. Lawrence outside the Wall, Santa Croce, St. John Lateran, St. Sebastian, and St. Paul outside the Wall) and we were able to make good time in walking from church to church. At each location we were able to stop and pray, resting in the presence of our Lord and praying before the bodies and relics of so many saints.
Archdiocese of Denver