Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Pray for the Dead

Three times in my life I've been a first responder to carnage in the street from auto accidents.  The first was while still in high school, the second in Russia and the third was today in Italy.

An older man was hit while crossing the street by a motorino and some time later died on sight.  Please pray for his soul.  When he awoke this morning he could not have imagined that today would be his last. 

I heard the crash, saw a man run to help and followed him with speed.  An ambulance came.  By God's grace a priest was nearby and with diligence rushed to the body, knelt and pronounced conditional absolution (in Latin).  Just the moment before I had seen the victim's chest move (indicating that he was still breathing) while the paramedic sought to feel a pulse.  Moments later the man was pronounced dead.

Please pray for this deceased soul. 

And thank the Lord Jesus for the holy priesthood and for the hope of eternal life.

Requiem aeternam.


September Flowers in Rome to Cheer Up Your Day

The Ultimate Latin Blog

Link here:

And see it to believe it with the posted YouTube videos of spoken Latin!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Baroque: the Best and Why

To each his own, fine.

But teach your kids what the baroque is: color, light, movement.

See the motion in the statue? 

This is the baroque and this is Rome.

Photo taken in a Rome convent of a new statue.

Pilgrims: Follow the Path of Benedict

Want some adventure as a pilgrim?

Trace the path of St. Benedict through central Italy.

Tre Fontane: Trappist Beer in Rome

"Beer is to be made by monks, e basta."


Rome History: Nine Month Nazi Occupation

Many have an interest in twentieth century Rome history.

As we all know, the twentieth century proved to be a hemorrhage of blood. 

Some forget that Nazism sought also to obliterate Christianity after Judaism.

"Nor should we forget that all of us have received the faith 'from outside': it comes to us from its Semitic homeland, from Palestine, mediated by Hellenism.  The Nazis knew this only too well and tried to obliterate Christianity in Europe precisely because of its 'foreign character.'"

-Cardinal Ratzinger

Bugnini & Co.

World revolution.

We know nothing about him.  No books on him.  No biographies.  No stories.  No histories.  No statues or images of him and no buildings or streets named in his honor.  Nothing. 


Somebody who speaks Italian ought to write a book on him in English and tell this story good, bad or ugly. 

Rome Quotes

"Not for nothing la nostra magnifica Italia ha il piĆ¹ vasto patrimonio di arte, storia, e bellezze del mondo!"


Bentornata Festa per Studenti Laici (Welcome Back Party for Lay Students)

There are many pontifical university students in Rome.

All lay students are invited to the beginning of the year party to be held on the rooftop terrace of the lay residence of the Casa Mamre, just south of the Vatican.

Saturday, Oct. 10
7 pm
Casa Mamre
Via di Monte del Gallo, 13

This event is hosted by Studenti Laici alla Universita Pontificie and is a good opportunity to meet new students, to make friends, to hear about flats for rent, to find a roommate, or a spouse, to have questions answered, etc.

Announcing: Two New American Sisters

One is from Minnesota and the other from Wisconsin.  The Lord of History called them both to Italy where they joined a French order.  One of the sisters I know well as we went to high school together and I can still remember when once upon a time we both went as lay missioners to Vladivostok, Russia.  And to the WYD 2002 in Toronto.  She is a saint. 

Maybe this is your call, too? 

See here:

Monday, September 28, 2009

Rome's Greek Rite Abbey of St. Nilo Founded in 1004 And Still Here

In the lovely hills of the Colli Albani southeast of Rome is found a quiet little suburb by the name of Grottaferrata, near Castel Gandolfo.  Today we were there for the funeral rites of a friend (see photo). 

There you will find a Byzantine monastery which is one of Rome's best kept secrets - the (Catholic) Greek rite Abbey of St. Nilo (Abbazia Greca di San Nilo) which was founded in 1004.  Today there are just a handful of mostly elderly monks left, but they are the finest men (mostly Italians from Calabria and Sicily, born into Greek rite parishes there). 

The property is owned by the state, is listed as a national treasure and buses of tourists arrive to visit every day.  Every inch of the property has been maintained and preserved.  The monks are Basilian and chant the Divine Liturgy in Greek, with some Italian.  It brings tears to the eyes to hear them sing. 

A year ago last summer I was honored to be a guest of the monks and to stay in the monastery.  Sitting in the refectory I couldn't help but think how the several left were all now elderly.  Now in the past year four of these same monks have passed on.

They were our favorites: Fra Damien who walked from Ukraine to Rome after World War II, Fr. John the economo and Fr. Nilo who heard his last Divine Liturgy on Saturday, the feast of St. Nilo and who died on Sunday (the monks are still buried the day after they die).

Padre Nilo Somma, 83 years old, RIP.  

Perhaps it is your vocation, too?

Mare Nostrum: the Mucca di Mare

Yesterday evening while praying the holy rosary atop some rocks in the sea with some friends suddenly this beast swam by.  Harmless and truly amazing to watch, Italians call it a "cow of the sea." 

Rome Pub Quiz

During each quiz, there are ten rounds covering topics such as sports, entertainment and current events.

Make friends in Rome on Monday nights at 8 p.m. 

Scholar's Lounge Pub

Via del Plebiscito, 101/b
Near the Gesu'
Teams can have up to 5 members, and the entry fee is €15 a team.

Drink discounts for the duration of the quiz and the Scholar's Lounge Pub offers a full pub menu - sandwiches, pizza, chicken wings, etc.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Catholic Ukraine: Ab Oriente et...

Link here:

Commander of the Pontifical Marina

This is the tomb of the last commander of the papal navy, Alessandro Cialdi located in the port of Rome, Civitavecchia.

A shame to see the tomb in such disrepair.  Somebody ought to complain to the comune and have this historic gravesite cleaned up (and there ought to be a bust in his honor on the downtown beach promenade). 

Commander of the Pontifical Marina

Tribute to the last commander of the papal navy, Alessandro Cialdi, located in Civitavecchia. 

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Catholic India: Christians of St. Thomas the Apostle

On the Beach Near Rome: Fichi d'India (Prickly Pear Cactus)

Along the seashore you can pick these sweet treats.  The Lord has greatly blessed Rome and the surrounding countryside.  And makes for a fine margarita, too, south of the border!

Rome's Hotel Veneto: Latin Tables for Breakfast

Dal Papa: the Rome Shop

Catholic Italy: Parish Life as the Center

Always nice to have green space for the kids to run and play.  A sports field on or near the church property.  This was the dream of Don Bosco and can be seen with Salesian parishes in Italy.     

Rome's S. Maria alle Fornaci: In the Spirit of Don Bosco

The priest or seminarian who throws a football or joins in a soccer match with his kids or the kids who live in the neighborhood  is a leader who understands how it works.  The priest is a father to many.  Fathers spend time with their children.  Remember to invest in the youth. 

Wednesday's Catch

Yours truly hunts alla caccia for octopus in the sea near Rome.  On Wednesday three of these beasts were captured and killed and this Imperial ruin was discovered amid the rocks on the bottom of the sea (or at least would be great if it was an old ruin!).

Friday, September 25, 2009

His Excellency Bernard Fellay in Rome

Pray for a continued thoroughgoing rapprochement which is not insuperable. 

Today he was seen in the Vatican Basilica.

I've known Bishop Fellay from attending ordinations in Winona in the nineties and have always had great respect for him as a Swiss priest and European Catholic. 

Although I disagree with the autocephaly of his strategy (similar to that of the Orthodox) and the exclusive insistence on how Vatican II is rotten (similar to that of the Orthodox), we can all agree as Catholics that the Bishop of Rome is the principle and center of unity in a universal Church understood as communio (understood such by the Fathers, Doctors and Councils).

In this last and exhausted phase of the build-up of what hit us in the twentieth century we are fortunate today to have a theologian pope who since January of 1982 has been at the middle of it all.   

Let us pray!

"Smoke of Satan in the Church"

With the implosion of Catholic life in Italy in the wake of 1968, this is what the Pope had to say:

"I have the feeling that the smoke of Satan has penetrated the Temple of God through some crack or other."

-Pope Paul VI on June 29, 1972

Two Rome Churches Built Under the Reign of Pius X

San Patrizio and San Camillo, both near each other in the fashionable district near the U.S. Embassy (Palazzo Margherita).

Study in Rome: be an Eastern Rite Seminarian at the Russicum

"Pope Pius XI wrote a letter in 1929 to all seminarians, 'especially our Jesuit sons', asking for men to enter a new Russian center being started at Rome to prepare young clerics for possible future work in Russia.  I studied my theology there and learned to say Mass in the Byzantine rite in preparation for work in Russia."

-He Leadeth Me by Fr. Walter J. Ciszek, S.J.

N.B. If somebody has time feel free to add this pic to the Wikipedia page for the Russicum.

Study in Rome: Sacred Scripture at the Biblicum

Pontificio Istituto Biblico:

What Is Wrong With This Picture?

One word: ridiculous.

Rome is no longer the place for cardboard altars held together with rivetheads.  The year is 2009. 

The worst such altars in Rome can be seen at the Basilica of Sant' Andrea della Valle (thank the Chierici Regolari Teatini).

Thursday, September 24, 2009

St. Paul of the Cross: Founder of the Passonists

Read his life story to your kids.

St. Paul of the Cross (1694 - 1775).

Statue in the yard of Santa Maria a Fiume in Ceccano.

Canon of the Vatican Basilica

After Holy Mass sometimes they take an early morning stroll around the Vatican wall. 

Famous Rome Quotes

On Ladispoli...

" once again bemused, this time over how there can be, in the middle of a vast picturesque tract of untouched Italian farmland, a church shaped like the coronet of Galvatron."

-M. Tan

Ostia Antica Where St. Monica Died And Was Buried

These are the two plaques at Ostia Antica.  The death and burial of St. Monica are mentioned in the Confessions of St. Augustine.  We don't know where exactly she died or was buried at Ostia, but this is where the pilgrims gather to pray and to read from the Confessions. 

With two Augustinian priests we stood in the rain and read book nine from the Confessions of St. Monica's death and burial being recounted by Augustine a dozen years later.  It was amazing.  The priest began to weep as he read each time.  It would be a changed world if every eighteen year old would read the Confessions.   

Ostia Antica Where St. Monica Died And Was Buried

When you're in Rome be sure to visit Ostia Antica, near the seashore.  You can read about this old town in any Rome guidebook.

In the above photo is a plaque in commemoration of St. Monica with a quote from the Confessions of St. Augustine. 

In the lower photo is the foundation of the old shop where persons traveling to Carthage would purchase their tickets, where St. Augustine would have stood.  Also in the Confessions you can read how Augustine went to the baths at Ostia, all of which you can still see today. 

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Nun: Radical Optimism in the Face of the World's Radical Pessimism and Despairing Nihilism

You go, girl.  Nuns are like ninjas.

We live in a world dessicated by rationalistic skepticism.  But then there is this public witness.  A reach which reaches to those who sometimes cannot be reached.   

Christ subjugates all and He created the nun.  Nuns are a great service to the Church and they indicate a "higher power," without which we are all prisoners of a baneful history. 

What the Pax Looks Like

This is a lovely new "pax."

It was designed and made by a dear friend who is an Italian designer and artist, Maurizio.  Maurizio donated this precious item to FSSP in URBE. 

This is an example of how craftsmanship survives and how the good old days are here to stay, per fortuna.

A Woman's Touch: the Lace Surplice Pattern

If you're looking for ideas for lace surplice/alb apparel, consider this one. 

Team Spirit for the Colours

Palace of the archpriest and canons of the Basilica of Saint Mary Major. 

The Catholic Hospital

S. Gallicano, Rome. 

Why We Like the Baroque

Patriarchal Basilica of St. Mary Major, Rome. 

Splendor of the Tiara

Scala Santa, Rome. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Church of Santa Maria in Ceccano: Solemn High Mass in the Usus Antiquior

Sunday, September 20: Holy Mass was sung in the Gregorian rite in the twelfth century church of Santa Maria a Fiume in the town of Ceccano, just south of Rome.  The celebrant was Don Stefano Carusi of the Istituto del Buon Pastore (  and the magnificent choir was the Concentus Musicus Josquin Des Pres directed by Maestro Mauro Gizzi.  Needless to say, to witness this spirituality inside a church consecrated in 1196 really makes one feel the continuity of the Roman rite as it spans the ages.   

Church of Santa Maria in Ceccano: Solemn High Mass in the Usus Antiquior

The Chiesa di Santa Maria in Ceccano is a XIIth century church built in Cistercian style and was consecrated in 1196.  Being on the rail lines south of Rome near Frosinone and Anzio/Salerno this town was bombed during the war and this same church was really hit hard and then rebuilt in 1958.  It's a charming little church overlooking a river.  The day to make a visit is the last Sunday in May for their festival of Santa Maria a Fiume (Sancta Maria ad Flumen) when the faithful sing their favorite song, Lauda a Maria Ss. del Fiume and have an outdoor procession with their revered statue of St. Mary of the River, kept in the sanctuary.  Before the war there were lovely and famous gardens along the river here, but none of that remains.     

What the Greca Looks Like

As you can see, the greca is a clerical overcoat, specially tailored to fit over the cassock. 

The Baroque Altar Card and Cardinalatial Candle Sticks

And always the extras in Italy - notice the stemma (coat-of-arms) of the cardinal on the candlesticks?

The candlesticks are kept in the town of Ceccano and belonged to Cardinal Giuseppe Berardi (1810-1878) who was from there (near Frosinone). 

Lots of cardinals were born in this area, just south of Rome.  One such was Cardinal Tommaso Pasquale Gizzi (1787 - 1849), once Cardinal Secretary of State to His Holiness Pius IX (he was born in Ceccano in 1787 and in the same town on Sunday night we dined with his living relative, Stefano Gizzi, a delightful man).   

Made In Italy: Only the Best for the Holy of Holies

A little taste of the good old days.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Rome Anniversary Celebration of Summorum Pontificum with Mons. Guido Pozzo

Sunday, September 20 was the Rome celebration of the second anniversary of the papal Motu Proprio of 07-07-07, Summorum Pontificum.

FSSP in Urbe ( hosted Mons. Guido Pozzo from the Vatican who sang Solemn High Mass in the Gregorian rite.  The church was overflowing with faithful of all ages and present were many students and pilgrims from all corners of the globe.

Mons. Pozzo was named earlier this year by the Holy Father the new secretary of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei.  After Mass the faithful had the opportunity to greet the Monsignor during the reception prepared by the parish youth.