Rome Diaries - Week 40

From 2006 to 2011 Paulist Father Tom Holahan served as vice rector of the Paulist church in Rome. During that time he had the opportunity to spend time exploring the historic sites of Rome as well as the hidden ones. The blog features excerpts from this travel diary. A new selection appears each week.

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November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving dinner brings together at our apartment a distinguished group of educators. One of them tells me the old French royal church Trinità dei Monti (which dramatically towers over the Spanish Steps) had a change in administration. The Religious of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a French community that taught in the convent school for nearly two centuries, surrendered their positiion to a post-Vatican II religious group, Fraternités Monastiques de Jérusalem. Their goal is “to live in the heart of cities and in the heart of God.” The monks and nuns who teach at the school also follow a full schedule of monastic prayer. This monastery at the top of the Spanish Steps began in 1494 as a foundation of another new community, the Minims (so named because they wanted to be “the least” of all relgious orders). The Calabrian saint Francis of Paola was esteemed by French kings who controlled the kingdoms of Naples and Sicily, but Francis was no respecter of persons and refused to visit the deathbed of the treacherous Louis XI until a papal command forced him. Nevertheless, to honor the saint, a successor of Louis built the Minim convent in Rome and later began contrsuctioin of Trinità dei Monti. While Naples and Sicily are now decidedly Italian, the French still hold their own on the Pincian hill in the heart of Rome.


November 24, 2007

At today’s consistory of the Sacred College of Cardinals, the pope makes 23 new ones. John Allen, the long time Vatican reporter, commented on the politics of the choices when they were announced last month: If cardinals were elected like the U.S. Congress, Europe and the United States would be exceedingly over-represented, he declared. In a poignant and pointed gesture Chaldean Catholic patriarch, Emmanuel Deli III of Iraq gets the red hat. Since 2003, nearly half of the 1.4 million Christians in Iraq have fled. This afternoon receiving lines are set up all over Vatican City. Those cardinals who have senority as bishops get the best spots like the ornate Sala Regia near the Sistine Chapel; those lesser in senority take one of the recital halls in Pier Luigi Nervi’s Paul VI Audience Hall (1971). But this shouldn’t be a surprise in a church that very nearly serves as the epitome of hierarchy.



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