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Yesterday was another day filled with many blessings! We got to visit the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano, and the Basilica di Santa Croce in Gerusalemme. Santa Maria Maggiore is believed to have the actual manger which Jesus was lain in when he was an infant. San Giovanni in Laterano is the church where the Holy Father presides as the bishop of Rome. Santa Maria and San Giovanni are two of the four papal churches in Rome.

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San Giovanni

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Santa Maria

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Santa Croce

We were also able to climb the Santa Scala. This staircase is believed to be the actual stairs which Jesus ascended on his way to Pontius Pilot. They are covered with wood now, but you can still put your hands through and touch the original marble. These stairs can only be ascended on your knees – it really helped get us in the Lenten mindset!

Santa Croce in Gerusalemme is believed to carry parts of the real cross that Christ died upon! It was such a blessing to be able to visit the beautiful churches and feel so close to God.

Today, it is Sunday! For Mass, we joined Kathleen’s friend, Matthew, at the NAC (North American College) for Mass. It was absolutely beautiful! As would be expected, it was filled with seminarians and priests. We appreciated attending Mass in English and it seemed like we were transported to Heaven for a bit! The reverence in which the Mass was prayed and the absolutely amazingly gorgeous music really helped us pray and remind us of why we were here in the first place.
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The view from the top of the NAC

Traveling really takes a lot of energy and sometimes it is really easy to get discouraged and frustrated. All that is needed sometimes is for us to refocus on God, which an event like a beautiful Mass or a majestic church can do for us. It is then that we are reminded of God’s breathtaking beauty and how much we desire Him and hope to grow closer to Him through this trip.

After Mass, we went to St. Peter’s square to pray the angelus with Pope Francis! This was another absolutely beautiful experience. Although the Holy Father was very far above us and we could not see him so very well, it was amazing to be able to pray with him there. We could feel his fatherly love and holiness pouring down upon us. It was an experience that is difficult to explain, but all we can say is that our Holy Pontiff is a vey holy man!
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After the angelus, we enjoyed a rustic pie – it’s a pizza dish that has a top crust on it, forming a pizza pie, hence the name. 😉 It was delicious! Kathleen ordered one with prosciutto and cheese in it, and Ivana ordered one with tomato and mozzarella.
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Well, that’s it for now!

Ciao,
❤ i&k

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Our second day in Roma was quite eventful. We met up with Kathleen’s friend, Matthew, who is a seminarian at the North American College – one of the seminaries in Rome.

We met up at Piazza Navona, and from there we went to the Pantheon, a Roman Temple to all of the gods. It was raining and we were able to see the rain coming down through the hole in the roof. The Romans, even though there were master architects, were not able to figure out how to complete the dome without it caving in. It has since been converted into a Catholic Church and the tomb of the great painter Raphael lies there.
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Tomb of painter Rafael
We then stopped into Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, a basilica made to show that the Virgin Mary is much greater than the Roman goddess Minerva. This church is absolutely magnificent, a splendid example of gothic architecture. The body of St. Catherine of Siena is there, although her head is kept in Siena. We were able to pray in front of the main alter where her body is kept. It was amazing to be so close to such a great saint and pray for her to grace the rest of our journey as well as for our many intentions that we carry with us to every church.

Next, we went to lunch, a glorious Italian lunch. For our appetizer we had mozzarella de bufala with prosciutto. This is a small ball of fresh mozzarella with lovely, salty Italian smoked ham. For our main course we shared three different pasta dishes. The first, Macichano, Matthew’s favorite, is a meaty sauce over homemade spaghetti noodles. The second, Bolognaise, is another red sauce over thick linguini noodles. And lastly, (both Ivana and Kathleen’s favorite), the Carbonara, is a white sauce which is made by mixing egg and parmagian cheese and then pouring it over the pasta as it comes out of the boiling water. Bacon and fresh ground pepper are added to finish the dish.

The last thing we did was go to a Norman Rockwell exhibit at the museum. This was definitely a highlight of the trip. Being able to see the original work of such a prolific American artist, was amazing.

We then hopped on a bus to head back to our hostel. When we got back, we were hungry, so we went and got some gelato and ate some dinner from the grocery store.

Ciao!

❤ i&k