I had the great privilege of visiting the eternal city last month. Having always dreamed of going to see the Vatican, the “heart” of our Church, my first trip was a bit different than I had envisioned since it was for business, not pleasure.
The Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi brings to Rome its communicators from around the world for an annual planning meeting. Usually Jim Fair, Director of Communications for North America, attends from our side of the world. But this year, he brought me (his “staff”) too!
I have to say it was wonderful experience, meeting all those who share our common mission to spread the good news about our movement. It was inspiring to meet my counterparts from locations such as Germany, Chile, Mexico, Italy, Spain and Columbia.
Also while in Rome, I had the great privilege of attending the Sunday Angelus and the Wednesday audience, both led by our wonderful Pope Francis. I did not get to see him up close, but Jim did. (Click here to read his blog about the experience.)
I also was privileged to be part of a small Mass celebrated by the Legionaries at the altar which is now the tomb of St. John Paul II. (Though I didn’t realize this until the Mass was over! But I did pray there later on for all those who gave me their intentions!)
And I was blessed to participate in the coveted “Scavi” tour, which takes place underneath St. Peters in the catacombs beneath. The apex of the tour is viewing the actual burial place of the first pontiff of the Catholic Church, Peter himself. I have to say, standing at the altar in front of the remains of this great servant and martyr of the church was awe inspiring and humbling, to say the least. (I snapped a photo, which I found out later is expressly forbidden.)
(A reminder for those women who ever plan to go on the tour –– make sure your shoulders are covered! I wore a sleeveless dress and learned this rule the hard way from a stern member of the Swiss Guard. Thank God for consecrated woman Paula Nunez and her scarf!)
Finally, with this blog, I need to keep a promise I made to the wonderful nuns who were our hostesses during our stay in Rome. When Jim told me I was going on this trip, he said he had arranged for me to stay at the same place where he was staying, Villa Maria Pia, a small hotel run by the “Crucified Sisters Adorers of the Eucharist.” I had no idea what to expect when he said it was a convent. But it was actually quite wonderful! I would recommend this place to anyone who is travelling to Rome and Vatican, especially if they are involved with our movement, since it is just across the street from the residence of the Legionaries!
The hotel is quaint, quiet and very comfortable. The sisters were up early offering their guests a lovely continental breakfast (including cappuccino!) The room accommodations, though simple, include a private bath and everything you need for a pleasant stay.
Visitors also can attend the early morning daily Mass with the sisters if they wish (something I sadly learned on the last day of our visit.)
Another really nice thing about staying with the sisters is that the price is, as Jim puts it, about half of what costs to stay at other hotels in the area. And the fee helps the sisters to fund their other apostolates serving the poor and needy in various locations such as the Philippines.
For more information about Villa Maria Pia, go to http://www.casaperferievillamariapiaroma.it/en/index.html. You can send email inquiries to email@example.com. You can also check out this private website from two guests who were so impressed they wanted to do a little promotion for the nuns. (It’s in Italian, but if you enter via Google Chrome, it will translate for you.)
In closing, I will mention that the sisters’ patron, Mother Maria Pia of the Cross, is being considered for sainthood in the Church. The sisters asked me to include her in my prayers. I reprint below the prayer from the card they gave me, in case you would like to join me!
O God our Father, you have given Mother Maria Pia Notari the strength and the joy of opening herself entirely to the Holy Spirit to conform herself to Christ, host of expiation and of salvation, and of offering a family of consecrated virgins crucified with Christ, adorers of the mystery of the Altar, apostles of the Eucharist.
We humbly pray You deign to elevate in your Church her figure so as to continue to orient and induce with more efficiency through the centuries the faithful toward the Eucharistic table where the Church community of salvation continuously bears and strengthens herself.
By her intercession, grant me the particular grace that I ask for with trust_______, and the grace I need to live serenely a Christian life and to glorify You, Endless Love, who reign forever and ever. Amen.