The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Back Home Again...

Although we've been home for several days, it's taken us that long to fully recover from the jet lag and the fact that we really took no downtime after our trip. Trying to hit the ground running the day after one's return from a trip abroad is not something I would recommend...especially at my age.

In any event, before I delve into deeper subjects, I thought it would be well to describe our last day in Rome. So here goes...

One church I badly wanted to visit was St. Cecilia in Trastevere. On our last visit to Rome in 2005 we tried to see the church, but it was closed for renovations and all we could do was view its exterior. So this time we did our homework and made sure the church was open for visitors.

First we took our trusty tourist bus to its first stop, Santa Maria in Trastevere, one of Rome's oldest churches. We stopped by for a brief look, and once inside wished we had more time. Like many Roman churches it's been rebuilt several times, and if I remember correctly, the existing Romanesque church was built in the 12th century. Of particular interest are the beautiful 13th century mosaics by Cavallini. One could spend hours enjoying them and the other marvels hidden in this wonderful church...but time (and the fact that rain threatened) didn't permit more than a brief visit. As you can see in the photo, Diane did have time to light a candle and offer prayers for special intentions.

And so we walked on through the winding, narrow streets of Trastevere (aided by my TomTom handheld GPS) and made our way to St. Cecilia. What a treat this was!

One of the most moving works of art in the church is the sculpture of St. Cecilia displayed under the main altar just over her tomb. The sculpture, by Stefano Maderno, shows Cecilia's incorrupt body positioned just as it was when it was exhumed from her grave in the 16th century. Cecilia, of course, is the patron saint of music. Given the state of music in the Church today, perhaps we should send some intercessory prayers her way.

We also visited the crypt where the saint is buried as well as the adjacent excavations beneath the church. The church was built over a 2nd century Roman home (thought to be the home of Cecilia and her husband, Valerian) and the home has been remarkably well restored by the archaeologists responsible for the excavations. It is truly worth a visit.

As we left the church we stopped by the neighboring convent where (for a small fee) we went upstairs and were able to view Cavallini's "Last Judgment" -- a remarkable medieval painting on a wall of the convent. This is another "must-see" in Trastevere. The photo is of the Church of St. Cecilia.

By this time our feet were getting tired and it had started to rain. Our thoughts were also beginning to turn to food and so we decided to search for a restaurant. The one we settled on was a nice, little restaurant that obviously caters to the locals but still warmly welcomes tourists like us. The meal was good, as was the wine. It's name is Hostaria Dar Buttero and it's located at Via della Lungaretta, 156. I recommend it.

Earlier we had thought about spending the afternoon at the Forum, but the increasingly heavy rain convinced us to shelve that idea and save it for a later trip. We took the bus back to St. Peter's and from there walked in the rain to our hotel where we enjoyed a nice afternoon nap. The evening was spent packing, enjoying a last dinner at our favorite local restaurant, and then to bed in preparation for our 4:30 a.m. wake-up.

The trip home, like every long, non-first class flight was semi-miserable, although British Air did their best to make it as endurable as possible.

I am still going through the 1,200 photos I took and will post a few on the blog in the coming days.

All in all, dear Diane and I had a wonderful trip, but it is, as always, good to be back home in the USA.

God love you...

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