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The Rome Diaries - Week 9

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.

Dec. 27, 2006

This morning I make it a point to be at the marriage office of the Vicariate of Rome early. I am concerned that, perhaps, the paperwork for the marriage I am going to perform will not be in order. Not only does the monsignor stamp and sign everything with a mere glance, but the sister who records the document smiles at the middle name of the bride, Josephine. It’s Christmastime, after all. I go to the Eucharistic chapel of nearby Basilica of St. John Lateran and, under the gentle gaze of a Madonna and child I make my thanksgiving for a successful first visit to the Rome marriage office.

Dec. 28, 2006

The Via Sacra in the Roman Forum leads up to the Arch of Titus. Here you are taken away from the Rome of car traffic to a panorama of ruins. The difference is tangible. The wreck of Ancient Rome laid out before them silences those around me. They stop fiddling with their cell phone and look. I take a path up the Palatine Hill to visit the churches of St. Sebastian and St. Bonaventure. I notice a line of trees marking the Stations of the Cross that are set into the wall that connects the churches. Breaks in the wall allow tantalizing views of the Coliseum and the ruins of the palaces of the imperial family. Here, in the heart of Ancient Rome, it is blissfully quiet.

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