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,”...

Impressions of Rome: The Flight of Books

As a youngest growing up near the Oregon coast, my family frequently visited the beach town of Seaside, where my maternal grandparents and one aunt lived. My paternal grandparents had a cabin there also, to use when we wished. I loved the coast, though not so much the...

Impressions of Rome: A Papal Audience

Those readers who have been to Rome might wonder why I have never written in these weekly postings about going to a papal audience. I confess I have not been to one for many years, but recently that changed. On November 15th this year I attended an outdoor papal...

Impressions of Rome: On Pilgrimage

From November 10th to the 12th this year I assisted with a pilgrimage of Benedictine oblates to important sites in and around the Eternal City. Thirty-five men and women from Australia to the Netherlands to the United States, and places in between, had signed up (and...

Impressions of Rome: All Souls Day

All Souls Day is on November 2nd, a day when Catholics and many other Christians traditionally commemorate the Faithful Departed, remembering in prayer all those who have died. This year on All Souls Day I visited the monumental Roman cemetery of Verano, next to the...

Impressions of Rome: Pines of Rome

I recently sent a friend in Michigan a short video clip of Piazza Venezia here in Rome, one of the city’s busiest places most of the day. In the early morning, though, before 8:30 am, it is a fairly tranquil thoroughfare and almost exudes an air of peace at an...

Impressions from Rome: Solitude and Availability

Growing up Catholic in the 1950s and 60s in the city of Portland, Oregon, we were blessed with two strikingly Catholic sites. The first was the Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother, popularly called “the Grotto,” run by Catholic friars, the Servants of Mary, usually...