Thursday, September 10, 2009

In Trastevere

A funny thing happened on the way to Santissima Trinità dei Pellegrini...

I've just found the first Internet café I've seen in Rome, and am getting used to the slightly different keyboard (for instance, I had a devil of a time finding how to type the @ symbol essential for logging in).

Roma è citta bellissima. That's about the first Italian I ever learnt, many years ago; and I haven't learnt much more, unfortunately! Even when I've tried to speak Italian (as when ordering a cappuccino) the waitstaff have replied in English. (Perhaps I look very northern European - this winter I've lost most of what tan I had, whereas some of the Italians are incredibly tanned after a long hot summer.) I must say, not being able to speak the language makes me feel rather dis-abled - and having explored many bookshops this afternoon, the sight of so many volumes I can't read filled me with sadness.

(I have bought three books in particular I've wanted for ages: the latest Fortescue-O'Connell-Reid; the 1962 Martyrology; and the Offertoriale Triplex. I also bought some smaller, cheaper items, like the latest Textus Inserendi for the modern Liturgy of the Hours.)

However: to-day has been blessed - for, despite the lack of a ticket, I managed to attend the Pope's general audience, which was great, most of all for the sight of Peter in his successor, Christ's Vicar, and for his Apostolic blessing. Viva il Papa!

Yester-day, after arriving in Rome and making my way to San Gregorio al Celio, at which monastery I'm staying, I freshened up, then went for a long leisurely walk through the historic centre of the City. I was saddened to see so many churches closed, and apparently only opened for the odd Mass. But what a joy it was for me, to come to the first church open I found, and to find it to be San Giovanni dei Fiorentini - the very church of which St Philip Neri was the rector for ten years - and there to kneel before a cross he venerated, and a bronze bust of him, at the altar of his chapel, surmounted by the original of that picture of him recommending his clients to the Virgin and Child! I read my Matins there (having not had the strength to read them earlier, so fatigued by travel had I been).

Yester-day, on further yet to St Peter's! I had had a small snack for lunch (a slice of pizza, a drink, for I had a very dry throat) and finally, having reached Hadrian's mausoleum (Castel Sant' Angelo), I sighted the Vatican Basilica: how huge a church even at that distance! One could clearly read the huge letters across the façade recording its dedication to the honour of the Prince of the Apostles... I stopt for some gelati, then advanced into the piazza, and lined up with the crowds...

St Peter's: everything is far larger than life-size, and the pilgrims and tourists within were as ants. It was good to find three areas roped off; one transept for confessions, and two chapels for prayer - in the first of which the Blessed Sacrament was exposed. There I read Lauds in thanksgiving. Having made my way round, venerating the sacred relics of Bl John XXIII (far smaller in death than in life), St Gregory Nazianzen, St Gregory the Great, St Pius X et al., I prayed Prime in the other chapel set aside, and then - after doing the rounds of that great church, and finally kissing Peter's foot (praying as did Baronius, Oboedientia et pax) and praying at the confessio, looking down to where, far below, the Prince of the Apostles rests until he rise again, I made my way back to the Adoration chapel, for the Little Hours. Thus I marked time...

At a quarter past three, I met my mates Brennan and Michael, two Australian seminarians at the North American College whom I know. They very kindly gave me a tour of the N.A.C., and shewed me the best prospect of all Rome from the roof thereof. Then I made my way back over the Tiber (a most horrid stinking little low river, almost as scandalous as the graffiti and tattiness of some parts of Rome)...

Soon enough, I found my goal, the Chiesa Nuova - and St Philip Neri, his sacred body awaiting the resurrection like some wonderful chrysalis in a shining chapel just off the main sanctuary: it was so moving, I really cannot say more. Very appropriately, and I believe providentially, I then prayed Vespers of Our Lady's Birthday in the very church dedicated to her on this feast, the titular feast of Santa Maria in Vallicella. (Another link to St Gregory the Great - he is secondary patron of the church.)

I then heard Low Mass at SSma Trinità - there were two clerics in choir, and a small congregation of maybe twenty; it was a dialogue Mass, and strangely the Creed was prayed. Did I say dialogue Mass? Some even joined in the Gloria, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei - most oddly, by reciting miserere nobis and dona nobis pacem as if it were a versicle and response. Though we'd all joined in the second Confiteor, we said a third as well at communion time! At the end, we all sang the Salve Regina, and what acoustics! St Philip, too, was present - he has a chapel and altar there, for he helped establish the Confraternity of the Most Holy Trinity for the aid of pilgrims.

I went to bed by about eight and slept for eleven hours.

Holy Mass is at 6:30pm at SSma Trinità, so I'd best hurry along: I hope I can make it in twenty minutes. Arrivederci!


Schütz said...

Congratulations on finding an internet cafe and getting it to work for you! I will put a note on my blog for folk to follow your adventures.

Joshua said...