What would you do after a weekend in Siena, Lanciano, and Monopello? (May I remind you that by weekend I am referring to the 24 hours of daylight on both Saturday and Sunday combined!) Well, if you are studying in Rome, you should probably get rested and ready by next weekend, because it is off to Ravenna you go!
Just when we were getting accustomed to the day-to-day of a Roman, we were introduced to a fresh new side of Italy. The rolling Tuscan hills and the quaint town of Siena was a perfect and picturesque oasis away from the city noise of Rome. On Saturday morning, 7 a.m. departure time, we piled into a coach bus headed for Siena. When we arrived in the home of the young St. Catherine, we spent some solemn moments in the church San Domino where her relics survive today. We saw her home and where she spent 3 years in silent prayer. In those moments, we prayed where she prayed and saw what she saw. The story of St. Catherine was close almost to the touch! Well, maybe besides the fact that she was 24th of 25 children… Nonetheless, I felt privelaged to be in her presence. The stunning view of the Sienese rooftops and the foothills in the distance don’t hurt much either. A day in Siena would not be complete without a stroll through the valley and some relaxation in the Centro watching dressed-up Italian youngsters chasing one another, and without a care in the world!
As if that wasn’t enough for one weekend, Sunday became another tour-de-Italy. The women initiated our own pilgrimage to the sites of the Eucharistic miracle at Lanciano and the home of the veil of Veronica in Monopello. In these two places, I was personally able to see beauty in the mystery of miracles. It challenged my mind and guided my heart to feel the magnificence of what was before me. Our trip, besides purely inspiring, was also a laughing work-out. If you are ever in need of a good laugh, please ask me about the jokes and hilarious summer-job horror stories and embarrassing moments that were revealed on that adventure! Also, we were graciously treated to a full Italian meal at the cutest side street restaurant. MMM good
These experiences are too much for words! And besides just that, it is only a snapshot of what goes on at Bernardi. I’m growing not only accustomed but attached to the community night Mass and dinners on campus, to the nights and dinners out on the town, to the 45-minute walk to class, to the Italian espresso, to the church visits and ever-presenf beauty and history, to the group runs through the park, to the music-sharing, singing, and dancing in the basement, to the spiritual encouragement and incredible examples of my peers, to the normality of seeing priests and nuns on the street, and to the sunshine!
I’m so thankful to be a part of this experience!!!
Things to note:
- Meals are an experience. A true dinner should take around 3 hours.
- Restrooms have a price tag in the outskirts of Italy, budget accordingly.
- Future Bernardians: bring a watch! Cell phones are no longer the primary keeper of time!
- Remember that if you are in the church of St. Agnes, it is very likely that she is too- keep an eye out for important relics of saints!