Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Roman Friday Afternoon

I wandered along in the afternoon heat, up to the Piazza del Populo, with its grand ancient obelisk of Rameses II surrounded by carven lions gushing water. To my delight, the north end of the Piazza turned out to be the Flaminian Gate, famous in English history for the unwittingly inflammatory letter intituled "From out the Flaminian Gate" signalling the restoration of the hierarchy of the Catholic Church in England in 1850. I could not forbear from walking out through it and back again; take that, Protestants!

I wandered on, found the Spanish steps and surmounted them, wandered further, saw Berlusconi (see previous post), and found open the little church of St Sylvester - if only I'd thought to pray for cats there! - where a marriage was about to happen, so I popped into the side chapel; which turned out to have the Head of St John the Baptist on display on its altar (behind a wrought iron screen). The sacred relic looked rather blackened and small, but was definitely a whole skull (maybe minus the jawbone). Prayers, devotions...

I next visited San Eustachio, then found the Pantheon (see last post), then the Gesù (closed for renovations: the Jesuits must have known an enemy of theirs was coming), and the unexpectedly large Theatine church of San Andrea della Valle, where I was delighted to find the body of St Joseph Tommasi, an early liturgical scholar, to whom all those interested in true liturgy ought have a fitting devotion.

Then it was on at last to SSma Trinita for my second Low Mass of the day, which was a Votive of the Sacred Heart. After the Sacrifice, the meal: I had a rather good dinner, the first so elaborate of this trip, at a restaurant on the piazza across from the church. Fried zucchini flowers, spaghetti with basil, and swordfish steaks with almonds, plus a good big bottle of acqua minerale, with a caffé (espresso) and strong shot of grappa to finish. Was €42,50 too much to pay for this?

I walked back to San Gregorio, arriving at half nine, having left at six that morning. My feet are really aching from the cobblestones - once I take off my shoes, ouch!

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