Mike Aquilina

Friends, Romans, Countrymen

Sunday March 09th 2008, 9:56 pm

I just got back from a full week in the Eternal City, where I was traveling with my St. Paul Center colleagues Scott Hahn and Rob Corzine. We enjoyed a week packed with meetings in an exhausting number of Vatican dicasteries and pontifical universities and colleges. The conversations were exhilarating and encouraging.

Between meetings we found ourselves in the company of bloggers Gashwin Gomes and Joan in Rome. We even got to attend an inspired talk by Joan at Christendom College’s thirtieth anniversary bash. Among her rapt listeners were Cardinals Arinze and Law, former papal spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls, U.S. ambassador to the Vatican Mary Ann Glendon, Zenit’s Liz Lev, and blogger-TV personality Father John Wauck.

The Fathers were with us everywhere. On our way from meeting to meeting, we dropped in to visit the relics of St. Clement, St. Ignatius, St. Monica, St. Gregory, plus the Apostles, of course, and the popes. We passed these archeological digs quite often. Rob and I ran through the Forum Romanum — apparently among the last visitors to pass through free of charge! Big news on Italian TV was the exhuming of the body of Padre Pio.

Gashwin blogged (several posts) on our travels together and even added YouTube video of the papal audience on St. Leo the Great. If you listen closely at the end, you can hear us croaking the Our Father in Latin. Gashwin also attended a lecture by the Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomew, who was in town to visit his alma mater, the Pontifical Oriental Institute.

Gashwin is delightful company. Our conversations ranged from St. Catherine of Siena to the Bhagavad Gita, from gelato to Brownson and Hecker. Here’s Rob, me, and Gashwin at Santa Maria Sopra Minerva. (I don’t know the elephant’s name.)

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And just to show you how hard it is to avoid the ancients in Rome … They’re even on the label of your water bottle.
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