Monthly Archives

July 2012

Student Perspective, Study Abroad

Pace in Terra

The sun breaks over the shoulder of the Basilica of St. Claire on the eastern side of Assisi

by Andrew R., 2L

“From this hillside, where it abates its rise,
a sun was born into the world, much like
this sun when it is climbing from the Ganges.
Therefore let him who names this site not say
Assisi, which would be to say too little,
but Orient, if he would name it rightly.”

Paradiso XI.49-54.

Assisi, June 30, 2012.

To finish off our first week in Rome, we couldn’t have travelled to a more different place. For all its majesty, Rome is still a city, and has a tendency to be as crowded, noisy and dirty as any other of its size.

The commune of Assisi however, is hardly any of that. Perched on the top of a great hill at the foot of the Apennines, it’s almost as if the town has been lifted up and set in a place apart. It’s populated, but not crowded, and while it captures a certain breadth and majesty in its own right, Continue Reading

Student Perspective, Study Abroad

Papal audience

by Andrew R., 2L

 “And both the city and her lands, in truth
 were established as the place of holiness
 where the successors of great Peter sit.”

                                    – Inferno II.22-24.

Vatican City, June 27, 2012.

St. Peter’s from Via della Conciliazione

Scarcely had the semester begun before we were out of Rome again, in a manner of speaking. Vatican City, the famous “city within a city” stands as a bit of a reminder of the days of a slightly less-than-united Italy, when the country that now stretches under one flag was little more than a collection of independent city-states. Despite its size however, a city as small as the Vatican more than makes up for it with its impact. Continue Reading

Student Perspective, Study Abroad

First day of classes

by Andrew R., 2L

John Cabot’s Gianicolo Residence

“I turned my rested eyes from side to side,
already on my feet and, staring hard,
I tried my best to find out where I was.”

Inferno IV. 4-6.

Trastevere, June 26, 2012.

A night of recovery from jet lag, orientation meetings, and general travel fatigue broke with the dawn of a Roman sunrise. All around the student housing at John Cabot, the city of Rome seemed to soak up the final hours of relative peace and quiet before the crowds and late morning heat arrived to cover the city until nightfall. Continue Reading

Student Perspective, Study Abroad

Introduction: The Eternal City

by Andrew R., 2L

“That noble city…the holy city, of which the very stones of the encircling walls were worthy of reverence and the soil on which she stands more hallowed than has ever been acknowledged.”

                                                            – Dante, Il Convivio, IV, Chap. 5.

Trastevere, June 25, 2012.

In the ancient world, Rome was the center of Western civilization. In the Middle Ages, it was the seat of Christendom. During the Renaissance, it helped lead and shape a cultural revolution in the arts and sciences. In the modern era, it was a firsthand witness to the change of an old world into a new one, and was molded and shaped itself by the events that gave us the present day. It’s a city that’s been marked by every age, seamlessly bringing the present into contact with the past. Twentieth century roads open onto medieval piazzas, which are themselves surrounded by art and architecture that predate even the time of Christ.

Here, history is inescapable – both that which has been written and that which is being written. A modern crisis in a modern time, where security and economic stability can no longer be taken for granted, plays out in the shadow of all that has come before. The ancient popes, leaders, philosophers, artists, and revolutionaries look on as if etched into the very edifice of Rome itself, reminding us all that time never unfolds in isolation, but will forever build and develop on the experience of its predecessors.

To enter the city from abroad is perhaps to enter it first and foremost as a student. Rome is an excellent teacher, and to encounter it in all its depth and breadth leaves little to be desired for the mind that is willing to learn. Still a thriving European city after more than two thousand years, it remains at the center of the cultural, economic, and societal development of a significant portion of the world. Though many things change, many more things remain the same. For the truly educated, those who wish to be individuals with the ability to impact the culture in which they live, it still holds true that a firm grasp of history is just as important and invaluable as the ability to recognize the true face and nature of their own place in time. When in Rome, one has the opportunity to do both – allowing one to see with new eyes where he comes from, where he stands, and where he may be going.