Impressions of Italy: Monastic Products

I have said it often enough over the past forty-seven years as a monk to have gotten tired of hearing myself say it, but here I am actually writing it: monks (and nuns) don’t receive a monthly pay check from the Vatican for being good monks and nuns. Therefore, in...

Impressions of Italy: Bismantova

In August I spent part of a day in a national park in the region of Reggio Emilia of central Italy I was there escaping the blistering heat of Rome, where air conditioning is largely absent. The place is part of the National Park of the Tuscan-Emilian Appennines,...

Impressions of Rome: EUR

Rome: EUR Those who live and work in Rome are presumably aware of, but perhaps rarely visit, a place called “EUR.” The three letters are an acronym for “Esposizione Universale Romana,” that is the “World Exposition in Rome.” And what exactly is that? As a place, EUR...

Impressions of Italy: Our Lady of Capo Colonna

Italy is a country of beautiful shrines dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, as well to angels and various saints. The sanctuaries are numerous, and I presume number in the hundreds. Almost everywhere in Italy, and in some cases not so far from each other, one can...

Impressions of Italy: Elvis Presley

It really took me by surprise, when recently, while reading a periodical published by the Carmelite friars in Italy, called, “Il Carmelo Oggi,” that is, “Carmel Today,” to find a two-page editorial article in the May 2018 issue about Elvis Presley! The piece was...

Impressions of Italy: Sister Death

Saint Benedict exhorts his monks to “keep death daily before one’s eyes.” In the original Latin, the phrase is: “Mortem cotidie ante oculos suspectam habere.” As one of my friends would likely ask if reading the phrase in English or Latin: “What is that all about?”...

Impressions of Italy: Saint Francis of Paola

I confess that until fairly recently I knew very little about another important Italian saint, Francis of Paola. I could have told you that he was a fifteenth century hermit monk, the founder of an Order and was not Saint Francis of Assisi. Other than that, I might...

Impressions of Italy: The Carthusian Order

The Carthusians are an ancient and important monastic Order in the Catholic Church, founded in France in 1084 by Saint Bruno of Cologne. The Order was and continues to be a mostly hidden one, since its monks and nuns follow a life of strict solitude and prayer. For...

Impressions of Italy: Santa Rita

It almost goes without saying that there are many popular saints in Italy. Not all the saints near and dear to Italians were born in Italy, but lived here at some point in time and eventually won the hearts of Italians and remain very popular to this day. To name a...

Impressions of Rome: Salve

Since coming to Rome to work in January of 2017, I have been struck by a word that is regularly used here. I don’t recall that it was so much in use thirty years ago when I was living here as a student, but most likely it was. The word is simply, “salve.” My...

Impressions of Italy: Norcia

The birthplace of Saint Benedict and his twin sister Saint Scholastica is very sacred to Benedictine monks, nuns and oblates. The city is now called Norcia, but in the time of Saints Benedict and Scholastica, born in 480, it was called Nursia. It is located in the...

Impressions of Rome: Grottaferrata Abbey

Rome’s longest continuously occupied monastery of monks, existing since the eleventh century, is the Byzantine Catholic Monastery of Saint Mary of Grottaferrata. Located on the outskirts of Rome, this monastery of the Byzantine-Greek Catholic Rite belongs to the Order...

Impressions of Italy: Abbazia di Monte Oliveto

There are nineteen autonomous Congregations, or formal groupings of monasteries, that comprise the International Benedictine Confederation. The Subacio Cassinese Congregation, to which my monastery belongs, is just one of the nineteen Congregations. Some of the other...

Impressions of Italy: Sanctuary of La Verna

For many years my list of important places to see in Italy has included the Franciscan Sanctuary of La Verna, located in Tuscany, high in the Apennine hills, not far from the city of Arezzo. The hope was realized this year when three monks of our curia were able to...

Impressions of Italy: Immigrants

By the end of the nineteenth century Italy was overcrowded, poverty was rife and taxes were ever increasing. Between the years 1890 and 1910 some three million Italians immigrated to the United States. Often they were single men, but also married couples with children...

Impressions of Italy: Rivotorto

Officially known as the “Santuario Francescano di Rivotorto,” the Franciscan Shrine of Rivotorto is very close to the city of Assisi and like Assisi, is another important place in Franciscan history. The Rivotorto shrine lies in the plane beneath Monte Subasio on...

Impressions of Rome: The Rose Garden

One of Rome’s most beautiful and fragrant natural sites, which comes into full bloom in early May, is the Rose Garden, called in Italian “il Roseto Comunale di Roma,” comprised of two and a half acres of land, between the Circus Maximus (Circo Massimo) and the eastern...

Impressions of Rome: Saint Philip Neri

Undoubtedly, one of Rome’s most popular saints is Philip Neri. Like Saint Frances of Rome and Saint Benedict Joseph Labre, Philip Neri seems to be near and dear to the hearts of many Romans and Italians in general. In fact, Philip Neri is called the “Third Apostle of...

Impression of Rome: Weather, You Like It or Not

It seems like only yesterday I was slipping and sliding on the icy streets of Rome to make my way on foot to the Vatican, just for fun, when we had our rather freakish snowstorm at the end of February. It was a very cold and unpleasant day, though watching snowball...

Impressions of Rome: Public Transportation

For all its drawbacks and faults, which I have mostly avoided discussing in these essays, Rome does have an elaborate and fine public transportation system. I grew up in Oregon in the United States and for the past forty years have lived in New Mexico. In both states...