Bonjurno for the last time:
Today, Friday, is our last day in Rome and tomorrow morning, Susan and I leave for Krakow, Poland at 6:00 AM, and Johna and Sam leave at noon to fly to Madrid, where they spend the night and then return home on Monday.
Today we had mass with Fr. Gabriel, and mama, and 3 friends from Argentina, one of whom was a priest and con-celebrated the mass. We met them at 7:30 AM in St. Peter’s square at the entrance and Father was already in the Basilica preparing for mass. Lots of hugs and kisses we walked into the square and over to get mama in by two guards close to the security. Now, mama has a cane and is elderly and definitely qualifies as handicapped. You would think that the guards would have cared,….not a chance; they made us walk all the way around the Square like everyone else. So we all went the long way…..Susan and mama arm in arm and made the trek in 15 minutes, only to pass by the gate we tried to get through earlier, 20 ft. away and right at security……… “Italians”……..and I’m one of them.
We went thru security and as we approached the Basilica, they had the ramp closed, so it was either the steps or the elevator. I went ahead and Susan and mama followed and I asked for the elevator rather sternly and the man behind the desk jumped up and with his key took us up. We just made it before mass was about to begin.
Fr. Gabriel and his friend were on the altar preparing the host and altar and just before he started, he came down and handed me his camera and asked if I would take some photos. No Problem….. I felt like Marilyn Olsen at an ordination.
There was a guard there the whole time and didn’t say a word until mass was over and Father had left…….I took one more photo of the altar stone and he yelled at me, “no photo’s” Hello! Are you Italian?
Father was as excited to do mass at the altar of St John Paul II as were to be there for mass and it was beautiful. After mass had ended we waited for Father and he and Susan walked with mama down the stairs because you couldn’t get thru to the elevator. Lots of hugs and kisses later we departed all promising to keep in touch, especially Susan and mama, since she does e-mail and facebook!
We had a car rented today for the day and we took the subway to Termini train station, and after a little struggle found the rental offices, we picked a number and were 10th in the wait line, but divine intervention again came thru and in less than 5 minutes some man came up to me and asked what I needed and I said my car, which I had pre-paid. So he took my license and credit cards and asked for my passport which I forgot so he said no problem and sent us to the pickup garage down the street. This guy must have been from another country after the people we ran into today.
Twenty minutes later we were in our brand new MERCEDES, did I tell you yet “I love this car”. We were going to Mentorella, the Sanctuary of Mentorella of in the mountains and then our plan was to go to Genazzano to Our Lady of Good Counsel Shrine, to Our Lady of Divine Love and then to the Basilica of Saint Paul’s Outside the Walls back in Rome.
Pretty impressive right? Well, we made 2 of 4, after we got lost going to Mentorella and wasted a half hour backing out of dead ends and doing u-turns. Princess (my GPS) is now 10 years old and I think needs an update or retirement.
About 5 miles before the shrine there is a village, where we made a pit stop and had a cappuccino…..we hadn’t even had breakfast, but we were afraid to take too much time, because the church closed at 1:00 PM for 2 hours, so we headed up the final leg.
There was dead silence in the car as we made s-turn after s-turn on the narrow road, some of which had no guard rails. I was in heaven driving, the others were in Purgatory waiting for it to be over.
At the parking lot for the shrine there was a bus and some cars but we didn’t park there. We drove straight to the Shrine, saving a ¼ mile walk, a trick we remembered from our last visit here. We didn’t have to worry about the church closing……..there was a group getting ready to have mass so we spent what time we could saying a few prayers before the Statue of Our Lady and at the altar of Saint John Paul II.
As mass was to begin, we left the church and went to the cave of St. Benedict where he lived for many years before starting the Benedictine order. The lights kept going out and we had to keep going up the rock steps to turn it back on. I think the kids were mesmerized being there at this holy place. Johna and Sam both left a copy of their intentions there and on the statue of Saint Benedict there was a Brown Scapular with on side missing, so he took his off and tried to lasso it on the statue. Too funny! On the 3rd try it caught on something so he was happy. (See Photo’s).
We next climbed the Scala Sancta. Steps leading up to a bell for all Christians to ring acknowledging that they were there. We all took a turn. The views from here were incredible for all of us, since the last time Susan and I were here it was raining very hard and the clouds covered the mountain. I still remember that day looking up the steps and the brightness of the sky above.
Time to go, since we were on short time, so we headed down the mountain. Susan hates this part the most……..and I wasn’t sure about the others. We stopped back in the village and had lunch. We were all starving. We had pasta, all homemade of course, and the ravioli’s were huge. Everything was delicious and we shared a liter of house wine that everyone loved.
As we headed toward Genazzano the kids fell asleep in the back of the car, it was a lovely sight! Running short on time and the kids wanted to get a vigil, we turned around and went to St Paul’s Outside the Walls, hoping for a 5:00 PM vigil mass.
We got there in plenty of time and even found another mass in progress. It looked as if the priest was getting the altar ready. When we walked in we were scorned by some people with their looks. Little did we know that it was time for Communion, and the priest was breaking actual bread to serve. When he came around we all stood back as reverent as possible, deciding not to receive, and he passed by us anyway.
The mass at the Basilica was at 6:00 and at 5:00 vespers began in Latin, so we left, since tomorrow the kids had time to go to the Vatican in the morning and we could attend mass in Krakow, so we went home…..with only a few wrong turns. We all finished packing and Sam and I went for some pizza.
After dinner Sam was very sad, he told us he would love to have been able to go to Krakow and maybe we would have another chance. We went to bed at 10 PM, Susan and I had to be up at 5 and out the door at 6. We promised to wake them in the morning before we left to say goodbye. See you tomorrow.
May the Blessed Mother wrap Her Mantle around all of you.
Susan, Tom and the Kids
Pray to Our Lady of Good Counsel
Most Glorious Virgin, you were chosen by the eternal Counsel to be the
Mother of the Eternal Word made flesh. You are the treasurer of divine graces
and the advocate of sinners. I who am your most unworthy servant have
recourse to thee. Graciously be my guide and counselor in this valley of tears.
Obtain for me, through the Precious Blood of your Divine Son, the
forgiveness of my sins, the salvation of my soul, and the means necessary to obtain
it. In like manner, obtain for the Holy Church victory over Her enemies
and the spread of Jesus’ kingdom over the whole earth.
May God Bless Each and Every One Of You!
Tom & Susan Melillo
Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33418 (USA)