Touching down in Roma, early the morning of the 17th, I was full of emotions. Knowing that I would soon be walking into St. Peter’s Square, coming home to mother Church, was an overwhelming thought. Thinking about being in the city in which so many holy men and woman came to spread the Good News, to spread the glorious name of Jesus Christ, and to give their lives in the building of His Kingdom here on earth, I could barely bring myself to move, to put one foot in front of the other.
On top of all of these emotions, me and Jonathan still had no idea where we were going to be sleeping for the next few nights. The night before, we had found out that a friend of a friend of a friend living in Rome, was going to open their house up for the three girls to stay in. Little did we know, that a few hours later… all five of us would find ourselves with a warm invite to stay with a beautiful Italian woman, Lea Amato, in her home (on the road next to the Vatican!) Walking into her lovely home, we find ourselves surrounded by a number of young adults… all speaking English!!! We had stumbled across perhaps the most generous woman in all of Rome. Later we found out that Lea now lives alone and is constantly opening up her home to anyone who is need of a place to stay, knowing that the Lord will bless her for her generosity.
This first act of God’s divine providence, giving us an incredible place to stay with these beautiful people, was just the first of what turned out to be blessing upon blessing while in Rome. The next three days we spent in the city were a whirlwind, filled with the sacraments, prayer, meeting beautiful and holy people, and allowing the Lord to pour out his grace upon us, basking in his love and allowing Him to delight us with soooo many good things.
First we came to find out that Lea and Stephano (a young man who has been staying with her for the year), work at the Vatican in the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services Office. We were extremely blessed with the opportunity to go into the Vatican to see there office and the amazing work that they are involved in. Later that same day, our group took to the city and went to see and pray at some absolutely beautiful places, including the Pantheon, St. Mary Major (where I was blessed to receive confession in English :P) and St. Charles Borromeo. We also were able to see the pillar at which Christ was scourged during His passion, St. Theresa in Ecstasy, the Trevvi Fountain, Spanish Steps and the Garden Bourghese. That evening we first met up with the rest of our team, bringing our number to ten missionaries!!! We met up with John Paul, Sheila, Maria, Bridget, and Kristen (more on them later!!!) who were accompanied by Padre Pablo, a good friend of the girls and a priest working in the Vatican. That evening we were blessed to be led by him to the convent of the Sisters of the Sacred Heart. Whilst there we were able not only to see there chapel and their convent, but to see the incorruptible remains of St. Rafaela, a saint from right outside of Cordoba, the city in which we would soon be spending the majority of our mission!!! After a blessed and exhausting day, we arrived home, only to be surprised by a beautiful home cooked Italian meal which Lea had prepared for us 🙂
Our third day in Rome was a little more relaxed than the first two 😛 Because God just wanted to keep blessing us, we had the opportunity to spend the entirety of our morning alone in the Vatican Gardens. We were able to walk around and enjoy ourselves, to see where Pope Benedict says his daily rosary and where his helicopter landing pad is! We were also blessed to visit the cloistered convent behind St. Peter’s, a convent currently occupied by sisters from Seville and Cordoba!! We had a blessed conversation with them about our faith and about missions and living for the Lord. After having left the Gardens, we decided to go grab a quick bite to eat at a little bistro in front of St. Peter’s, when out of no where a priest, who was sitting across the room, began talking to us because he noticed we were speaking English. Little did we know that this priest was none other than Cardinal Law, from Boston, MA! He was such a great and holy man, he encouraged us to continue living our lives for Christ, to continue working towards the building of His Kingdom here on earth and to never tire of going to the ends of the earth to proclaim the Good News!! The rest of our day was spent touring the Vatican Museum, having Adoration and Mass in St. Peter’s, and spending the end of our night with Lea and Stephano with their Magnificat community, a Catholic Charismatic community centered in Rome, for an evening of praise and worship, prayer, and personal testimonies.
Our final day is Rome came all too quickly, but was great nonetheless. We were able to see a few more places in the city, Paul Outside the Walls, St. John Lateran and the Holy Steps which Christ walked a number of times when being sentenced to death by Pontius Pilate. Our last night in the city was spent with Lea and her family. We went to her sisters house, to meet them and to celebrate her nephew’s 18th birthday!! Happy Birthday Daniel!!! 😛
All in all it was an incredible time in Rome. The Lord provided for us again and again. He used this time of holy pilgrimage to strengthen our faith, to allow us to see the grace that he poured out on so many holy men and women who lived for Him, the grace to give their entire lives to Him, the grace to die for Him. He calls us each to this level of sanctity, this holiness. He wants nothing less!!! We are all called to find our vocation in life… our vocation is our route to holiness. My vocation as a missionary is, God-willing, how I will become holy, how I will become more like my heavenly Father, become more Christ-like. Your vocation is how you will do the same. Pray that the Lord reveals to you His will, how He would have you serve Him, live for Him, die for Him, and become holy for HIM!!!
Next stop… CORDOBA, ESPANA!!!