Impressions of Italy: Napoli (Naples)

Over a long weekend in May, I had the opportunity to visit the city of Naples, (“Napoli” in Italian) and found it to be a very worthwhile and enriching experience. I went there from Rome by train and the ride is just an hour long. In Naples I stayed with a community...

Impressions of Italy: Holy Week and Easter

I imagine that after the Holy Land, Rome is likely the next biggest Holy Week destination place on planet earth. With spring’s arrival, that means longer daylight, warmer weather, trees in leaf and flowers blooming. At the same time, the influx of pilgrims and...

Impressions of Italy: Monastic Roots

“Reports of my death are greatly exaggerated”—attributed to American author Mark Twain. Is monasticism dying or even dead? I occasionally have heard variations of that question since arriving in Rome four months ago. If you visit certain monasteries or read reports or...

Impressions of Italy: A Visit to Umbria

Until now my online reflections have been focused on the city of Rome. That makes sense since I hadn’t ventured beyond Rome since my arrival in Italy on January 13th this year. An outing to Umbria, land of Saint Francis, took place on the weekend of March 24th, which...

Impressions of Rome: Sant’Ambrogio della Massima

The headquarters (called “the curia”) of our Subiaco Cassinese Benedictine Congregation is housed in a former monastery, called “Sant’Ambrogio della Massima,” in the heart of Rome, the “centro storico,” or “historic center” of the Eternal City. Centrally located it...

Impressions of Rome: Crossing Streets

Crossing streets in Rome might be considered a fine art. At nearly any hour of the day, beginning by 7:00 am or even earlier, and extending well into the night, the many and often wide major streets of Rome are teeming with traffic. This is no surprise or cause for...

Impressions of Rome: Speaking Italian

In the summer of 1985 I enrolled in a language school in Florence, Italy, for two months of intensive Italian study, five days a week, four hours each day. The Tuscan city of Florence (“Firenze” in Italian), I had been told, was the place to go to learn Italian. I...

Impressions of Rome: Life in Our Curia

On February 10th, 2017, Feast of Saint Scholastica, the sister of Saint Benedict, our Congregation’s Curia at Saint’Ambrogio, where I live, introduced the Office of Vigils into the daily horarium (schedule). Our Abbot President Guillermo is clear that while the curia...

Impressions of Rome: City of Contrasts

Like every large city, Rome has its share of homeless, mentally unwell and beggars among its inhabitants. In the case of Rome this reality is especially evident in the historic center (“Centro Storico,” as they call it here) and at the Vatican. The Centro Storico and...