Worth Revisiting: Gelatos & Cappuchino

Out of the blue my youngest resolutely proclaimed from the other room, “Mom when I get older I am going to Rome.”  Having grabbed my attention, I called back, “Well certainly you can, but why do you say that?”  “Well, mom if this is anything like the granite and gelato served in Rome..I’m there!” No surprise as I walked into the kitchen to spy him sitting and consuming a cup of lemon Italian ice. “Ah, Thomas but it is oh so much better in Rome!”

From the very first day of our arrival in Rome, my friends and I struck out on a pilgrimage of a different sort…to taste test as many different places and varieties of these frozen delicacies as possible during our stay.  It became almost an adventure, asking cabbies and locals for their own personal favorites and to discover new ones as well.  Our first find, within walking distance of our hotel, was to be our evening stop regardless of whether we had found another gelateria earlier that day.

Enjoying a Lemon Raspberry Granita

Using locally sourced ingredients,  natural fruits and fresh cream it is no wonder why these taste so remarkably  different from what we usually purchase under the title of gelato here in the States. Traditional flavors are there for the less daring and yet there are an abundance of unique flavor combinations. Of these distinctive flavor combinations my favorites were cinnamon-ginger, lemongrass-rosemary, and kiwi- mango. Yet, I could try a new flavor twice a day and go years before I had even come close to tasting them all!

Let loose on this eternal city, after visiting the Vatican, we found ourselves at the Ponte Sant’ Angelo or the Bridge of Angles near Castel Sant’ Angelo (Hadrian’s Tomb). Peter and Paul guard either end of the bridge , with angels depicting scenes in the Passion of Christ along the way. Artists create and sell their inspirations of the day while musicians play hoping their gift will be well received.  Down below, tents dot the Tiber River awaiting the sun’s departure and the evening festivities to begin. With little clue as to where we were really headed, my friends and I began following a lead on a favorite gelateria mentioned only as Angelo’s .  When it became apparent that we weren’t finding this on our own, we began asking locals, and tourists alike. Suddenly coming upon a piazza popular for music and performers, we recognized that even if we never found it, that it was certainly a memory in the making. Finally, approaching closing time we came upon a vigili urbani  (municipal police officer ) informing us that what we were looking for wasn’t a place at all. Rather, we had been given the name of the owner of a gelateria, the man behind the counter who he knew quite well.  So it is that in Rome, the destination is is never the full story, but the journey is far more priceless.

Now, while I contemplated a Nutella gelato several times, it remained only a thought- choosing instead to have it smothered on fresh baked bread with my morning cappuccinos dusted with cocoa. (Yes, I did use the plural!) Grazie è meraviglioso..I echoed each day as completed my morning reflection time, and garnnered strength for the day ahead. “Cafe Americana? No, no grazie..cappuchino  per favore!”

Pace,

Signature

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Worth Revisiting: All Roads Lead To Rome

It has been said that “All roads lead to Rome” and this morning as I awoke, truly my very thoughts turned to Rome. To the many visual and epicurean feasts for the eyes and palate, but also to those moments which speak to our very soul.  At one time distance itself was measured in proportion to Rome, to the Milliarium Aureum, a monumental marker erected by Emperor Augustus centrally placed in the heart of the city. Dependent and connected through the well constructed Roman roads there seemed little way as a traveler to avoid passing through this jewel of the Empire. Today, we are beckoned here still, to walk in the footsteps of the saints and martyrs that have gone before us and to see where this road is continuing to lead us as a people of faith.

With this in mind, I wanted to invite you to reflectively join me on my last pilgrimage to Rome, as part of a series, and to share your insights and impressions as well from each of these incredible sites of early Christianity. While I am certainly not a noted historian or an archaeologist by trade, I am more accurately termed a theological pilgrim. Moreover, since no discussion of Rome is complete without reminiscences of the incredible food, people and surprises along the way that one encounters, be prepared for these fun diversions too! One such experience can be found in an earlier post entitled “A Spirit Led Day”.

Santa Prassede-Rome, Italy

    

That morning, as my friends and I gathered outside, we were met by the gaze of one of Rome’s poor, disabled elderly. With one foot bound and misshapen, she sat rather motionless and quiet. That is, until Fr. Steve came close!

c. Berthold Werner

Upon entering, my eyes were amazed at the splendid array of brightly colored paintings and golden mosaic images that filled this 9th century Byzantine church.  First, above the altar is an incredible apse depiction of the presentation of St. Prassede (Praxedes) and Prudentiana to Peter and Paul at the river Jordan with Jesus. Here too, you’ll see Pascal I , the then pope surrounded by a square blue halo indicating his assured sainthood upon his death, presenting a model of the church. What is so endearing about this is that we can see that despite being separated by centuries, this continuity of faith, tradition and call to sainthood in our own discipleship.

Interestingly this church is said to hold not only the remains of Sts. Prassede and Prudentiana, but also the remains of many Christian relics from the catacombs that were moved when invaders sought to take control of the area.  As you enter the funeral chapel of St. Zeno, you are prompted for a small euro donation to which the room is suddenly lit with a soft ambient light. Definitely worth the small price, beauty and holy silence envelopes the entirety of this space.

Above you, you’ll see an image of Christ supported by four angels. Above one doorway are the portraits of Pope Paschal’s mother Theodora (with square nimbus indicated she was living at the time), Prassede, Pudenziana, and Agnes.  On the outside doorway is another storytelling mosaic featuring Mary with child, the apostles Peter, Paul James, John and Andrew and Sts. Prassede, Pudenziana, and Agnes.

Also contained within this church is the pillar of black granite that Christ is believed to have been tied to and scourged upon, brought to Rome in 1223.

Amid this splendor, however, I must note the breathtaking crucifix that left me speechless and remains with me to this day.  Tucked away in a side chapel, is this almost life size and lifelike crucifix that is said to have spoken both to Sts. Bridget of Sweden and Francis of Assisi. Here at the feet of Christ I stood, knelt and prayed as countless others before me have done. Yet, in this holy moment I was no longer an onlooker, a spectator of the history that lay before me but a living testimony of the faith. Called to Christ, I too had been inextricably linked to a breadth of tradition and set upon this incredible path to witness his presence in my life today.

Have you been on a pilgrimage to Rome before? If so, what are your favorite sites? Is there significance in your own faith life to the lives of these early Christians?  If not, might I suggest a pilgrimage..even a virtual one?

Peace,

Signature

Worth Revisiting: A Spirit Led Day In Rome

It’s Worth Revisiting Wednesday! A place where you can come and bring a past & treasured post to share, and link-up with fellow bloggers! Co-Hosted with Allison Gingras at Reconciled To You.

I could not help but think of the irony, as countless pilgrims gather in Philly to greet Pope Francis, that I once again would be missing the opportunity to see our beloved pontiff. Yet, now as then, the Holy Spirit has a purpose for where I am and intended to be. As I keep the home fires burning, I will be following the events with baited anticipation! God bless Papa Francesco and all those who are traveling to attend the World Meeting of Families this week.


A Spirit Led Day in Rome

A year ago July, as a graduate student with Loyola Chicago, I was in Rome. Given a free day to (pardon the pun) roam around, I hadn’t made any definitive plans. A couple of friends had invited me to take two early morning trains out to Castel Gandolfo on the uncertainty that Pope Francis was to appear there that day. Alas, he was there..I was not. Sunburned and needing more sleep, I decided to climb back into bed forgoing this graced opportunity.

Yet the Spirit, as it so often is known to do, would not disappoint! Heading down to breakfast, I was greeted with my cocoa toasted cappuccino and my other friends who had yet to finalize their day.  After expressing my interest to see the Divine Mercy Shrine at The Church of Santo Spirito, we all agreed that would be a good starting place! Upon arrival, we were greeted by… wedding guests and the beautiful tones of Ave Maria as the bride walked down the aisle. This would be one of four weddings we were to glimpse that day!

 

 

 

 

 

 
From there to San Teodoro and into one of the most beloved bakeries in Rome, Cristalli di Zucchero.

 

 

 

 

 
To an incredible farmer’s market

 

 

 

 

 

Expectant Mary awaiting the birth of Christ

 
then a few minutes of Adoration at the Church of San Teodoro al Palentino. Earlier at the bakery, we had spoken with a Religious Art student from Paris who had told us of a beautiful fresco of Mary in Santo Sabina’s. This was coincidentally was up Aventine Hill, where my friend MaryEllen had wanted to go. Considered one of the most spectacular views of Rome, it left us all breathless.

Aventine Hill

All Roads Lead To Rome: Gelatos and Cappuccino

Out of the blue my youngest resolutely proclaimed from the other room, “Mom when I get older I am going to Rome.”  Having grabbed my attention, I called back, “Well certainly you can, but why do you say that?”  “Well, mom if this is anything like the granite and gelato served in Rome..I’m there!” No surprise as I walked into the kitchen to spy him sitting and consuming a cup of lemon Italian ice. “Ah, Thomas but it is oh so much better in Rome!”

From the very first day of our arrival in Rome, my friends and I struck out on a pilgrimage of a different sort…to taste test as many different places and varieties of these frozen delicacies as possible during our stay.  It became almost an adventure, asking cabbies and locals for their own personal favorites and to discover new ones as well.  Our first find, within walking distance of our hotel, was to be our evening stop regardless of whether we had found another gelateria earlier that day.

Enjoying a Lemon Raspberry Granita

Using locally sourced ingredients,  natural fruits and fresh cream it is no wonder why these taste so remarkably  different from what we usually purchase under the title of gelato here in the States. Traditional flavors are there for the less daring and yet there are an abundance of unique flavor combinations. Of these distinctive flavor combinations my favorites were cinnamon-ginger, lemongrass-rosemary, and kiwi- mango. Yet, I could try a new flavor twice a day and go years before I had even come close to tasting them all!

Let loose on this eternal city, after visiting the Vatican, we found ourselves at the Ponte Sant’ Angelo or the Bridge of Angles near Castel Sant’ Angelo (Hadrian’s Tomb). Peter and Paul guard either end of the bridge , with angels depicting scenes in the Passion of Christ along the way. Artists create and sell their inspirations of the day while musicians play hoping their gift will be well received.  Down below, tents dot the Tiber River awaiting the sun’s departure and the evening festivities to begin. With little clue as to where we were really headed, my friends and I began following a lead on a favorite gelateria mentioned only as Angelo’s .  When it became apparent that we weren’t finding this on our own, we began asking locals, and tourists alike. Suddenly coming upon a piazza popular for music and performers, we recognized that even if we never found it, that it was certainly a memory in the making. Finally, approaching closing time we came upon a vigili urbani  (municipal police officer ) informing us that what we were looking for wasn’t a place at all. Rather, we had been given the name of the owner of a gelateria, the man behind the counter who he knew quite well.  So it is that in Rome, the destination is is never the full story, but the journey is far more priceless.

Now, while I contemplated a Nutella gelato several times, it remained only a thought- choosing instead to have it smothered on fresh baked bread with my morning cappuccinos dusted with cocoa. (Yes, I did use the plural!) Grazie è meraviglioso..I echoed each day as completed my morning reflection time, and garnnered strength for the day ahead. “Cafe Americana? No, no grazie..cappuchino  per favore!”

Pace,

Signature

An Engaging Faith: July 20-24th

You are invited to join me this week for An Engaging Faith on Real Life Radio daily at 4pm EST.

Enter To Win a Copy of  A Purposeful Path by Fr. Casey Beaumier (Courtesy Of Loyola Press Publishing)  

Where is God leading and meeting you today?

Continuing on our #31Daysof St.Ignatius..Tune in this week with.. Fr. Casey Beaumier with his latest

book A Purposeful Path, to Lisa Jones and Shelly Kelly of A Sound Mind and Spirit, then Jeannie Ewing of  Love Alone Creates and finally Margaret Felice!

Monday: Fr. Casey Beaumier, S.J.,  is the director of the Institute for Advanced Jesuit Studies at Boston College. , Fr. Beaumier teaches in the Capstone Program and serves as mentor and spiritual director for students, seminarians, women religious, and priests. He is also the author of a new book entitled S.J., A Purposeful Path: How far can you go with $30, a bus ticket and a Dream. 

For my own review on the book...

 Tuesday: Lisa Henley Jones and Shelly Henley Kelly, sisters and co-bloggers at Sound Mind and Spirit. Lisa is a mom of three, catechist, Catholic speaker and contributor at Loyola Press. Shelly is a full-time working mom of three herself involved in IT and telecommunications. Both have been contributors over at CatholicMom.com.

Wednesday: Jeannie Ewingof Love Alone Creates is a writer and inspirational speaker about spiritual life reflections, grief, and parenting children with special needs.    She has worked for the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend and as a freelance journalist for Today’s Catholic, the diocesan newspaper.  I have been published in Al-Anon Faces Alcoholism 2013 and Countrysidemagazine, as well as various, other periodicals; I am also a regular contributor to RealHousekeeing.comCatholicMom.com and CatholicExchange.com.

Thursday: Let’s talk..What is it to be a Church of Mercy? Today we take a look at Pope Francis’ book The Church of Mercy,  through a collection of his homilies, addresses, and excerpts taken from Evangelii gaudium, Lumen Fidei and Regina Coeli.

 

Felice Fridays!: Margaret Felice, Boston College alumnae and faculty member of Religion and Performing Arts at BC High in Boston MA, Opera Singer and blogger joins us for a fun an engaging talk about all things Catholic!

A Spirit Led Day in Rome!

A year ago July, as a graduate student with Loyola Chicago, I was in Rome. Given a free day to (pardon the pun) roam around, I hadn’t made any definitive plans. A couple of friends had invited me to take two early morning trains out to Castel Gandolfo on the uncertainty that Pope Francis was to appear there that day. Alas, he was there..I was not. Sunburned and needing more sleep, I decided to climb back into bed forgoing this graced opportunity.

Yet the Spirit, as it so often is known to do, would not disappoint! Heading down to breakfast, I was greeted with my cocoa toasted cappuccino and my other friends who had yet to finalize their day.  After expressing my interest to see the Divine Mercy Shrine at The Church of Santo Spirito, we all agreed that would be a good starting place! Upon arrival, we were greeted by… wedding guests and the beautiful tones of Ave Maria as the bride walked down the aisle. This would be one of four weddings we were to glimpse that day!

 

From there to San Teodoro and into one of the most beloved bakeries in Rome, Cristalli di Zucchero.

To an incredible farmer’s market

then a few minutes of Adoration at the Church of San Teodoro al Palentino. Earlier at the bakery, we had spoken with a Religious Art

Expectant Mary awaiting the birth of Christ

student from Paris who had told us of a beautiful fresco of Mary in Santo Sabina’s. This was coincidentally was up Aventine Hill, where my friend MaryEllen had wanted to go. Considered one of the most spectacular views of Rome, it left us all breathless.

Aventine Hill

In each of the churches atop this hill was a wedding, each unique, open and inviting. 

Trevi Fountain

With the day not over, we made our way to the Trevi Fountain to toss our coins in with a promise to return again. Tired but happy, hungry but filled, we went in search of a bite to eat and rest for our feet. As we all offered our shared amazement at  how everything seemed to flow, despite being unplanned, God’s last gift unfolded.

 

One day, I had mentioned to Goshia how I wanted to see the  church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, but was unsure if it would happen with so much to see. As we sat, and looking up from our outdoor dinner conversation she nudged me. “Elizabeth, look there it is, the IHM church!” Right in front of my eyes. God never ceases to surprise. As  we entered, one of us remarked, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could make mass here!?” So there we were, praying silently as the rosary was being said , in the very spot where St.  Maximillian Kolbe had said his 1st mass. When, in a flurry of robes, candles, and music  mass began and the church was filled with parishioners. We all turned to look at one another as if to say, Can you believe this? While spoken all in Italian, I felt right at home, part of a family so much bigger than my own.

Belonging to a tradition with a beautiful history long before me, I am also part of a pilgrim people that is to carry the light of faith on..led by the unsurpassed guidance of the Holy Spirit.  Signature