To be quite honest with you, I have no idea where to even begin in describing my trip to Poland this past week. I mean, how does one relay what it felt like to tour Auschwitz – a concentration camp where millions upon millions of human persons were killed? Or a 3-hour visit of the Schindler Factory Museum where I learned more about the persecution of the Jews during the WWII time period? How does one explain what it was like to walk through the hometown of soon-to-be Blessed John Paul II…to see the Church where he was baptized and received First Communion… to eat his favorite pastry? How does one describe what it felt like to pray in the original Chapel where St. Faustina received what is today known as the Divine Mercy chaplet? And these experiences don’t even capture the little, but precious moments from the trip: celebrating Palm Sunday Mass, eating traditional Polish sausage and pierogies, visiting the Wawel Castle and Cathedral, eating morning Polish pastries, exploring the Easter market in Krakow, enjoying a girls’ night in with delicious Polish cake, taking an evening carriage ride around the Old Town square. My time in Poland was amazing. Although I am getting excited to celebrate Easter in the Eternal City, there’s part of me that wants to go back to Poland NOW!
This past weekend I traveled to Padua and Venice. Before I talk about Venice, I want to give a little shout-out to Padua. If you are ever in Italy and visit Padua, you MUST see the Basilica of St. Anthony! Wow. Not only is the Basilica’s architecture and art beautiful, but it holds the tomb of St. Anthony–including relics of his tongue, jaw bone, and vocal cords… again, wow.
Now to Venice. Venice is really what everyone says it is: “A city that is like no other.” Ferries, boats, and gondolas are the only means of transportation. I don’t know about you, but I think that’s pretty cool. While in Venice we went to the Basilica of St. Mark. It is magnificent from the outside, and the entire interior is decorated in gold mosaic. I must admit that the experience felt more like a museum visit than a prayerful one because everything was roped off, except for one side chapel and it cost money to do things like go behind the main altar or go up on the terrace of the Basilica. But it was still a worthwhile visit and I spent nearly an hour inside being dazzled by the beauty.
Ladies overlook Lago Albano and Castel Gandalfo (the summer home of the Pope)
Silent retreat in the beautiful outskirts of the Eternal City? Check that off the bucket-list! This past weekend all of the Bernardians went with Fr. Carola and the rest of the chaplaincy to make a silent retreat—yet another great blessing and opportunity that the Catholic Studies Rome program offers. I had never been on a silent retreat before, so was looking forward to it. Unfortunately, I had come down with a bad cold the day before… my immune system seems to fail me at all the wrong times. But, have no fear, my spirits weren’t dampened. What better place or time to rest than a silent retreat tucked away in the beautiful lakeside of Rome, right?!