As our train enters into Termini station in Rome, there is a quiet sense of excitement amongst our pilgrims. We have arrived.
After checking in to our hotel we set off on our Roman adventure. Our first stop is the ancient basilica of St Lorenzo or Lawrence. Lawrence was a deacon in the early centuries of Christianity. The legend of his martyrdom is that he was put over a hot grill. It is said that at one point during his grilling, he beckons his torturers, “Turn me over, I’m done on this side!” The marble on which St Lawrence’s charred body was placed still bears the mark that was caused by the intense heat of his body.
Moving on, we make our way to the Church of Sant’Ippolitto, the parish church to which Cardinal John Dew was named as titular priest on his elevation to the Sacred College of Cardinals by Pope Francis last year. Unfortunately, the church that day was closed. Our pilgrims, one of whom regularly attends Mass as St Anne’s in Newtown, recorded a message for Cardinal John and said prayers for him and his ministry.
Mass that evening was celebrated with the American community based at Santa Susanna, but for the time being were using a chapel at the basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli, while their church is being restored. This was a lively community. I presume by the number of children present that this was a Mass for families. The priest celebrant for that Mass was particularly scathing of the younger members of his congregation, admonishing them and directing them to “sit still”, “stop talking at the back”, “stop rustling the newsletters”. Oh well, when in Rome…
Our first day in Rome comes to an end.