Sunday, June 30, 2013

Back from a very memorable pilgrimage to Rome with a small group. It was prayerful and moving, especially the celebration of Holy Mass in the catacombs of Priscilla, where Christians have celebrated Mass since the middle of the First Century. 40,000 Believers were buried there, including many martyrs. Priscilla, a noblewoman, opened her home for the offering of Mass, and last week we celebrated the same "fractio panis" (Breaking of the Bread) that is depicted in a second-century painting in that catacomb.

One of the couples on the pilgrimage went with me to pick up our tickets for the Wednesday papal audience. Once inside Vatican City we enjoyed a leisurely stroll through the Vatican Gardens and around Saint Peter's basilica. Unlike the day before, when we shared the basilica with about 20,000 of our closest friends, we were nearly alone in the vast church: no more than about a dozen other people, almost all workers. In moments like these one can be moved spiritually by the theological richness and deep devotion behind the magnificent art. It was a time of deep prayer.

Second row of seating for the Papal Audience: the Vatican gendarmeria estimated 200,000 people were in attendance, overflowing Bernini's colonnade in the piazza and extending well down the Via della Conciliazione.

Lastly, a confession: I'm not saying that I spent less time at the Gregorian University than at Roman restaurants while doing my doctorate there, but I ran into only one professor whom I knew, but about a dozen waiters who said, "Welcome back!"
June 28, 2013
Msgr. William J. King

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