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...

Impressions of Rome: Saint John Leonardi

Looking back over nearly seventy essays written for my weekly postings over the past sixteen months, many saints have been discussed, including Ambrose, Benedict, Augustine of Canterbury, Frances of Rome, Charles Borromeo, Joseph Moscatti, Januarius, Francis and Clare...

Impression of Rome: The Coliseum

One of Rome’s most impressive monuments is the Coliseum. Located next to the ancient Roman Forum, the Coliseum draws around five million visitors in the course of the year. It is almost always crowded inside and out with tourists. I confess that when I pass by the...

Saint Benedict Joseph Labre

Growing up in Oregon, and before becoming a Benedictine monk, I knew of the Trappist monks of Our Lady of Guadalupe Abbey, some forty miles south and west of my home in Portland. The monastery was founded by Saint Joseph Trappist Abbey of Spencer, Massachusetts, in...

Impressions of Rome: Confraternities

An important dimension of Catholic Church life in Italy over the past several centuries has been the presence and work of Confraternities. A Confraternity is a group, usually composed of both men and women, though sometimes of only men or only women, who in cities,...

Impressions of Rome: Holy Week 2018

I wrote about Holy Week and Easter in Rome a year ago and here I am doing so again. Tempus fugit, as the ancient Romans said, and the point is still valid: time flies, like it or not. In English we sometimes add to “time flies,” the little phrase, “when you’re having...

Impressions of Rome: Eastern Catholics

One of the beauties and glories of our Catholic Church is the diversity of other liturgical Rites that are in full communion with the Holy See. These Rites have existed for centuries and developed distinctive forms of celebrating Holy Mass and the other sacraments of...

Impressions of Rome: The Forum

Today looking rather like a “heap of ruins,” which in a sense is exactly what it is, the great Roman Forum was at one time the center of political, religious, commercial and judicial life of the ancient republic. The Forum’s central position in the city of Rome made...

Impressions of Rome: Sister Rain

If “the rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain,” as Professor Henry Higgins and Eliza Doolittle chanted in “My Fair Lady,” then the rain in Rome stays “mainly on me.” At least that is how it felt on Monday, March 12th when another monk, who studies in Rome, and I...

Impressions of Rome: Piazza Venezia

One of Rome’s most prominent landmarks, as well as being one of the most artistically questionable structures in the city, is the Vittorio Emanuele II (Victor Emmanuel the Second) monument in Piazza Venezia, just a few blocks from our curia Sant’Ambrogio in the...

Impressions of Rome: Snow in the City

Just when I was thinking that I needed an interesting topic to write about, the Lord seemed to reply by sending a record-breaking cold front and serious snowstorm (by Italian standards) to the city of Rome. Snow is a rather rare occurrence here, and the last...

Impressions of Rome: The Sound of Music

I arrived at our “Curia Sant’Ambrogio” last year, on Friday the 13th (!) of January, 2017. The Curia is the residence in Rome of the Abbot President of our Subiaco Cassinese Congregation of Benedictines, as well as of his assistants, numbering four monks. We also have...