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...

Impressions of Rome: The Jewish Quarter

Our Curia Sant’Ambrogio is set in the midst of Rome’s Jewish Quarter. The technical and acceptable term for the area is, “the Ghetto,” which to American ears might sound derogatory or anti-Semitic, but if you ask the Jewish residents here, they will tell you they live...

Impressions of Rome: Cats

I have already written, some months ago, about dogs in Rome. It is now time to consider the cats of the city. Felines are definitely “dappertutto,” that is, “everywhere” in the Eternal City. Many  sidewalks, ruins, churches, piazza, public stairways, have one or more...

Impressions of Rome: Epiphany

The Catholic Church has traditionally kept certain great feasts on a specific day, such as Christmas on December 25th and the Epiphany of the Lord on January 6t h. Easter is always observed on the first Sunday after the spring equinox (the first full moon of spring)...

Impressions of Rome: Retreat

Not long after arriving in Rome last January, 2017, our Abbot President Guillermo Leon Arboleda Tamayo asked me if I could offer retreat conferences in English later in 2017 to the Missionary Benedictine Sisters of Tutzing in Rome. The Motherhouse of the sisters is in...

Impressions of Italy: Saint Rose of Viterbo

Because so many of the canonized saints and blesseds of the Church were born in Italy, lived here for some time and/or died here, innumerable Italian cities have a particular patron saint associated with their city. Rita of Cassia, Francis of Assisi, Angela of...

Impressions of Rome: Christmas

Recently I have been asked, more than once, “So how was your Christmas?” Before answering the question, I would ask another. Have you noticed that Americans now begin almost every question with the word, “So”? I haven’t quite figured out why that is, but it seems all...

Impressions of Rome: Feast of Sant’Ambrogio

Our Subiaco Cassinese Congregation has its curia or headquarters at what was the ancestral property of the great Bishop and Doctor of the Church, Saint Ambrose of Milan, as he is usually called, who lived from 340 -397. His officially name was “Ambrosius Aurelianus,”...