I wrote this last night, but wifi would not permit me to post it. So, here it is this morning:
“Today marks one full week of being in Rome. I could not be more grateful for the time I have been able to spend here. In the past few days I have been privileged to tour some breathtaking sights. These have, to me, been true pilgrimage days. Three days ago (Thursday) I had the privilege of walking through the Vatican Museum. Last time I was there I was with a tour that practically ran through the museum. I still loved what I saw, but I did not know how much I was missing. This time, I took my leisurely time examining Tuscan vases, ancient marble, and vivid frescos. Yet, above all of these, the Hall of Maps still remains my absolute favorite place to be in the entirety of the City of Rome. I have one picture right below this, but I am afraid it does not do it credit.
Yesterday (Friday), I took a cab out to the Saint Calixtus Catacombs. They are the largest catacombs in Rome, and well preserved. While it was my second time visiting them (I visited them last time I was in Rome), my guide was outstanding and really made present the essence of the Christian catacombs; a celebration not of death, but of Eternal Life. There I prayed in the crypt of the popes and Saint Cecilia’s original tomb. From there I took the metro bus to the Basilica of Saint John Lateran, walked to the Basilica of Saint Mary Major, and finally made my way back to Saint Peter’s (near which is my hotel). Below is a picture of the crypt of the Nativity (I do not know if that is its official name, where I prayed for all of you before the ACTUAL MANGER OF BABY JESUS!
Finally, today I took a day trip through the Vatican to Castel Gandolfo, the papal summer estate in the charming little village of Gandolfo. I toured the papal apartments and papal gardens, all of which are cooled by the breeze coming off a stunning volcano lake. Everything was so naturally beautiful that nothing was overwhelming. I rode the train back completely content! On that note, if you are ever in Rome and want to do something other than (or in addition to) the Colosseum, Roman Forum, or Pantheon, please consider booking the Castel Gandolfo tour through the Vatican Museum website. You will not be disappointed! For proof, please see the pictures of my tour that I posted on Roman Catholic Reflection’s facebook page: www.facebook.com/RomanCatholicReflections.