Yesterday morning the liturgy booklets, produced for our parish pilgrimage to Rome in October, arrived in the post. I am delighted with them. This document, which runs to 72 pages, contains the texts for Mass and morning and evening prayer, it contains all the psalms and readings we will require and also the hymns. It took me a while to compile but was well worth the effort. It means that each pilgrim need only carry one booklet and it also makes a lovely memento. How exciting to be offering the Ordinariate’s Divine Worship in some of Rome’s most beautiful and significant buildings!
Thus far our schedule looks like this:
Day 1: Monday 10 October
We set off in the early hours of the morning to arrive by midday at the Casa Santa Francesca Romana a Ponte Rotto, on the Via di Vascellari in Trastevere. There we freshen up before enjoying lunch at a nearby restaurant.
In the early afternoon we visit the oldest church in Europe. The Papal Arch-basilica of St. John Lateran, Cathedral Church of Rome and official seat of the Roman pontiff; the principal church of Catholicism. During the visit we have the opportunity to climb the famous Sancta Scala (holy staircase) brought to Rome having originally formed the staircase to the praetorium of Pontius Pilate in Jerusalem. They were therefore sanctified by the feet of Christ himself during his passion. Look out for the baldacchino containing the skulls of Ss. Peter and Paul!
On leaving St. John Lateran we walk a short distance to the beautiful church of St. Clemente. Here we discover over 2000 years of history as we visit, not only the current church which is a gem, but also the remains of a 4th Century Basilica as well as a 1st Century Temple of Mithras, both of which are well preserved within the foundations.
We return to the hotel for worship in the hotel chapel, after which there will be free time. Come dine at a nearby restaurant alongside the clergy or make your own arrangements. Rome by night is charming. The Campo de Fiori is always buzzing and comes highly recommended for its eateries and bars.
Day 2: Tuesday 11 October
After morning prayer in the chapel we head to the little church of St. Giorgio in Velabro. This 7th Century house of worship is of special significance for the Ordinariate because it was Cardinal Newman’s Titular Church in Rome. Mass will be offered here according to Divine Worship and we will pray for St. Anselm’s in Pembury.
After Mass there will be free time to allow people to explore Trasteveri, known locally as ‘Rome’s favourite neighbourhood’; it is crammed with little shops and interesting places. Don’t forget to sample the Romanesque Ice-cream!
At 1:30pm a coach will transport us to the Via Appia; an ancient Roman road which weaves through the city. Here we visit the infamous catacombs where many Christian martyrs are buried. A guide will lead this tour. After this we walk along the via appia for evensong in the charming church of Quo Vadis, situated on the site where St. Peter encountered the risen Lord when fleeing Rome.
Day 3: Wednesday 12 October
Wednesday begins with a tour of the English College. This famous seminary has trained some of the finest priests within England and Wales over many centuries and was of great importance in helping recusants uphold the faith during the trials of the English reformation. Many men who trained here during that time went back to England almost certain of death. Of particular interest are the gruesome frescoes which depict, in detail, the deaths they encountered!
Keeping with the English theme, we leave the college to take in the splendour of the nearby basilica of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, titular seat of Cardinal Murphy O’Connor. This stunningly beautiful church will be the venue for today’s mass as, recalling our tour of the English college, we thank God for the English martyrs.
In the afternoon a coach takes us out of Rome’s city centre for a welcome break at the Palazzola in the hills. The more adventurous will be dropped off to hike the last miles around lakeside cliffs. The others travel direct by coach. We luncheon at the Palazola, summer residence of the English College overlooking Castel Gandolfo, the papal summer residence. A swimming pool is available for those who fancy a dip, and a bar is open to serve drinks. Evening prayer will be said in the chapel during the late afternoon.
In the evening the coach takes pilgrims back to our hotel in Rome. The more adventurous can opt to walk instead into the nearby villages for supper before another train journey and hearty walk back to the hotel. Bring walking shoes and proper socks if you fancy the strenuous option. Father Nicholas does not tolerate slackers!!
Day 4: Thursday 13 October
In the morning we head for St. Peter’s and the Vatican. Those who wish to view the Sistine Chapel must arrive very early before huge queues form. The morning will be spent exploring St. Peter’s and its museums and there will be an optional trip to climb St. Peter’s roof to take in the view. At noon we celebrate Mass, over the tomb of Pope St. John Paul II, within St. Peters.
As we are visiting Rome during the Year of Mercy the special door will be opened at the major basilicas. Those who walk through them are granted an indulgence. An indulgence is remission before God of temporal punishment due to sin whose guilt has already been forgiven.
In the afternoon there will be free time for shopping and site seeing. This would be a great opportunity to take in the colloseum, the basilica of St Paul without the walls (where the images of every pope from St. Peter to St. Francis can be viewed) or any of Rome’s many other historical venues. The clergy will almost certainly be found in one of the better clerical outfitters buying more tat for our sacristy. Make sure you go and visit the Pantheon if you haven’t done so.
We re-group for Evening prayer in the church of Ss. Cosmas and Damian, named in the Roman Canon, before retiring to the hotel and a final supper together in the city centre.
Day 5: Friday 14th October
This day is not yet confirmed, and therefore cannot be advertised. But details will emerge. We fly back in the evening after a most worthwhile break.