It has been a couple of weeks since returning from Italy, and the memories of the Pittsburgh Catholic’s pilgrimage are rich and vivid. As the days pass, I’m still remembering things that happened on the pilgrimage and sharing them with friends and family members.
Winding down the Pittsburgh Catholic’s pilgrimage to Italy, the groups (staying in two different hotels because some would be heading on the extension to Venice) walked Tuesday (Oct. 16) to the Accademia Galleria in Florence’s San Marco district. That’s where Michelangelo’s masterpiece depiction of the biblical hero “David” is on display.
The road to Florence was paved with memorable moments for the pilgrims from Pittsburgh.
Beginning Monday in Assisi, the group of 161 left early for the Church of St. Catherine in Siena, where the saint’s head has been venerated since 1383. It’s displayed in a large reliquary, and the rest of her body is kept in a church in Rome.
With an elevation of 1,300 feet, incredible vistas are everywhere in Assisi. Look to one side and the valley, with its farms, olive groves and endless horizon, can be seen. Look the other way and a beautiful town, with friendly people and narrow, centuries-old streets, is enjoyed by visitors.
Waking up in the peaceful town of St. Francis and St. Clare is priceless.
On Day 7 in Italy, the Pittsburgh pilgrims headed to the Basilica of St. Francis, which is perched on the side of Mount Subasio.
Friday was a day to scout out favorite places in Rome, take a short trip to Tivoli or travel to Pompeii and Naples.
The town of Tivoli features the Villa d’Este, a site that is on the UNESCO world heritage list. It is an impressive example of an Italian garden, with fountains, nymphs, grottoes and plays of water.
For early risers, Bishop David Zubik arranged to celebrate Mass in the Hungarian chapel in the crypt of St. Peter’s Basilica.
The Mass was to begin at 7:15 a.m., but a steady rain and delays by security guards pushed it past 7:30.
What an unforgettable experience!
Seeing Pope Benedict XVI anywhere is special. Seeing him at the seat of Peter is incredible. And the Pittsburgh pilgrims got a great look at him.
His arrival was a bit after the 10:30 a.m. starting time. The pope rode in on his popemobile, standing in the open vehicle waving to the crowd estimated at 20,000 in St. Peter’s Square.
Bishop blesses Ron and Carol Ann Shell.Tuesday was a day for ancient Rome. The Coliseum, Roman Forum and Capitoline Hill were visited in the morning, and lunch was enjoyed by the pilgrims at their choice of restaurants and cafes near St. Peter’s Square. It was also a chance to buy a few special religious articles before tomorrow’s papal audience, where Pope Benedict will bless any items that are brought to the event.