“Top 5 Highlights” 2016: Week #6

July 1, 2016
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As we come to a close of our time here in Rome, the surprises the Holy Spirit gives us certainly amazes us every time. With that, here is my top 5 moments of Week 6 of The Rome Experience.

5. The Prince and the Princess

Number five is when we welcomed Prince Nikolas of Liechtenstein, Liechtenstein’s Ambassador to the Holy See and his wife, Princess Margaretha of Luxembourg at our residence on the 28th of June. As seminarians, we asked questions such as diplomacy, the role the Ambassador to the Holy See plays in the world, how one confronts the growing problems in today’s world such as abortion and individualism, and what they do on their spare time. The Princess enjoys bicycling on her spare time while the Prince enjoys visiting the church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva and visiting Piazza Navona.

4. The Vatican Museum

We had the opportunity to visit the Vatican Museum located within Vatican City with Dony Mac Manus, our professor on July 1st. In the midst of all the famous artwork and sculptures like the Entombment by Caravaggio and the Transfiguration by Raphael, two pieces of art struck me that strengthen my faith in the church, The School of Athens by Raphael, and the Creation of Adam by Michelangelo found in the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

Why these two? The School of Athens, to me, showed humanity’s ongoing desire for truth. We see on Raphael’s artwork, Plato, Aristotle, along with Heraclitus and various philosophers, trying to understand the form and reality of their own finite world with the infinite in order to search for truth. Going to the Sistine Chapel to see the Creation of Adam for the first time, I came to realize that truth ultimately resides in God and His influence on this world. God’s decision to create Adam and all of humanity is His love for us. Being in the Sistine Chapel for me was a grace filled experience for it reminded me of my commitment to respecting life.

3. Pallium Mass

Number three was on Wednesday, July 29th, during the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul. What a great way to celebrate the solemnity by attending the Pallium Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica, presided by His Holiness, Pope Francis.

The Pallium Mass is very unique in its name. The “pallium” is a distinctive vestment or “neckband”, worn by newly appointed Archbishops to represent the Archbishop’s obedience to the Pope as well as continuing the apostolic mission of the church. We were able to see the Pope say Mass and offer our prayers for these new Archbishops as well as the well being of the Pope and the Curia.

2. The Gelato Cup Run

The 27th of June was the annual “Gelato Cup Run”. This race consists of seminarians running around Vatican City as fast as we can. This year’s winner was Matthew Gill from the Diocese of Fall River finishing at 14 minutes. Yours truly finished at 27 minutes, and, even though it may not have been my best running day in terms of endurance, the appreciation of running around a country and spending time with my brother seminarians and priests certainly made that day memorable.

As always, the best part of the “Gelato Cup Run” was the gelato itself. Walking a short distance from St. Peter’s Square to Old Bridge Gelato right off of Viale dei Bastioni di Michelangelo, the Rome Experience community enjoyed our gelatos as Rome’s hot weather continues to effect us.

1. Papal Audience

Finally at number one, we had the opportunity to see the Holy Father again but this time during his weekly general audience on the 30th of June. To get better seats in St. Peter’s Square, most of us arrived early at 6:40am at the gate. For you future goers at there, arrive early for better seats!

Anyways, the Pope made his entrance in his Popemobile at 10am, which drew the crowds joyful. The Pope reminded us “mercy without actions is dead. Mercy requires our interactions and love with the poor, the marginalized, and the forsaken. Jesus reached out to those who were forgotten, and us followers of Christ we should do the same in order for our relationship with God to grow.”

Most of us were able to see Pope Francis very close, which definitely was the highlight of the day besides daily Mass. Even though we had to wait 2-3 hours with the warm sun hitting us, seeing the Pope very close was definitely one of the memorable moments of the Rome Experience. I thank the donors and those praying for us for making this program a reality for us.

Brian Lazaro
The Rome Experience Class of 2016

Archdiocese of Los Angeles