A few weeks ago, I traveled where all roads begin, the great city of Rome, on a pilgrimage to the Holy Father for Holy Week. We left Thursday night and got to Italy around 12:30 the next day where my two friends and I waited for the rest of our group to join us from Chicago.
Once we got to the hostel we would be staying in, we had mass in the chapel and then wandered the town looking for a supermarket to provide us with dinner, a hearty meal of cheese and bread. The next day we woke up bright and early at 7:30 and started our day off by getting on the wrong bus to Rome. Once that event was over and we were on our way we visited St. Peter’s Basilica for the first time, one of the most breathtaking sights of my life. We then continued on our way and got our first cup of gelato, which was phenomenal! We visited St. Peter in chains, Mary Major, the Forum and the Colosseum. After this, we were on our way to the newest Roman center k foods Dei, Rocca Romana and had mass with all of the women that came from the USA for either Encontro or Univ, two conferences going on that week. Later that day we went back to St. Peter’s Basilica, and then were finally on our way home for dinner.
The next day we woke up at the fresh time of 6:00 and rushed off to Palm Sunday mass at St. Peter’s basilica with the pope. After getting squished in line for a decent amount of time, we finally got in with great seats. We later went to the campo do fuori market, had a pizza lunch, visited the pantheon and had a short meditation in the main center of Opus Dei by the tomb of Saint Josemaría. We later visited the Maria del Popolo church and ate gelato before dinner.
That Monday, the first day of Holy Week, we got up, ate the scarce breakfast that the Romans somehow got used to, then headed off to a soup kitchen. Here we de-cored and de bruised what seemed like hundreds of apples, then served lunch to about 150 poor people. After this, we went to a get together with the Prelate of Opus Dei, had meditation, mass, and then went back home for dinner.
After waking up at 6:00 that Tuesday morning, we headed to St. Peter’s Basilica again for a mass in front of Saint Peter’s bones. This mass was held in the catacombs of St. Peter’s in the midst of hundreds of deceased popes. After this, we took two trains off to Encontro Romano, a hospitality conference for girls of Opus Dei all around the world. Here we listened to speakers talk about living eco friendly and saw lots of presentations of traditional homemade happiness in each country ranging from China all the way to Mexico.
Wednesday we once again woke up bright and early to get to the audience with Pope Francis in from of St. Peter’s Basilica. After this, we visited the museum of holy years, visited the Trevi Fountain, and had mass in the catacombs outside of the walls of Rome after visiting them.
Holy Thursday was our day of rest. We slept in to around 8:00 then were on our way to see the holy relics of the passion and the shroud of Terin, which was honestly one of the most moving experiences of my life. After spending a good amount of time there we visited a park and played and took pictures. After that, we went on the holy steps (which we had to climb up on our knees), then visited the Basilica of St. John Laterin and walked around Rome. We saw Repubblica, the Trevi Fountain again, the church of the twelve apostles where Philip and James were buried, and Jesu (ignasiuos). We then had mass at St. Apolonari and dinner at a great pizza place called Mami’s. After that we completed the Roman tradition of visiting the seven churches in around twenty minutes, due to the fact that there are hundreds of churches in Rome.
That Friday, we woke up at the acceptable time of 7:30 and spent the day roaming around the city, having cultural moments and exploring Church’s more beautiful than anything I have ever experienced in my life. And then on Saturday we visited a part of Rome called Trastevere and explored, visiting small chapels and seeing relics of martyrs of the 20th century from all around the globe. That evening, we also attended the Easter Vigil at 8:00 o’clock in the evening. We stood, knelt, and sang the most beautiful Easter Vigil songs for the next three hours, and left with a sense of accomplishment for surviving it and sadness that we would be departing the next morning and that we would have to pack our bags that night.
We had a short “Easter Feast” made of chocolate, jellybeans, and chocolate croissants that night, while we looked back at the wonderful week we had had and thought about all the memories that we would never forget. This week was honestly one of the greatest weeks of my life and I am forever grateful for the experience that the pilgrimage to Rome had provided me with.
By Julia Nasiek ’16, Guest Writer