Monthly Archives

December 2007


Christmas in Rome

Christmas is a very busy time of year for us here in Rome. There are concerts to go to, the Midnight Mass at the Vatican, shopping to be done, and in the spare time there’s homework. However, I think it’s also the most beautiful time here in Rome. Granted, there’s no snow, but there are Nativity scenes and Christmas lights.
The streets are probably the prettiest part of the Christmas scene. They are all decked out in hanging lights, and the shopkeepers decorate their storefronts. Combine Christmas lights with centuries old buildings and you’ve got a very picturesque scene. What’s wonderful about all this is that Christmas here is not commercialized. You get the feeling that those people aren’t hanging up Christmas decorations to sell you something from their store, but just because they want to and enjoy doing it. They want to add to the beauty that is surrounding them and get in the spirit of Christmas.
Another unique tradition is how every church and almost every shop has a Nativity scene. Street vendors are selling pieces for Nativity scenes, churches have incredibly complex scenes set up, and the Vatican builds a huge life-size one in St. Peter’s square. It’s fun to explore the different churches just to check out their Nativities.

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peopleOne of the most interesting things in Rome is meeting fellow students at the Angelicum and around the city. The Angelicum is a Pontifical University, which means that it is owned and run directly by the Catholic Church. People from all over the world come to study here; many are priests, seminarians, and religious, but there are some lay students as well.

It is quite common to meet someone at the Angelicum who comes from a persecuted, war torn, or impoverished country, and they all have a story. One such story is of Peter, who is from Belarus. Belarus is near Poland and Russia and has a tragic history because in modern times the country has had true freedom for only about 14 years. It is a deeply Catholic country that has successively been under the rule of Hitler, communist Russia, and now a dictator. Peter was born under Communism and baptized in an underground church. His family has a very close and personal connection to St. Maximilian Kolbe because this priest presided at Peter’s grandparent’s wedding and baptized their children.
Another group of people that we have gotten to know are the seminarians from the NAC(North American College). Three of them (John, Josh, and Deacon Justin) are on our chaplaincy team, some are in our classes, and others graduated from Saint John Vianney at the University of St. Thomas. They’re a fun-loving group who you can always find in the courtyard playing hackey-sack between classes. Having them around is like having a bit of America in Rome, which is good when you get homesick or want to talk about familiar things, like how the Vikings are doing or the big snowstorm they just got back home.
As for the people in Rome itself… probably the most interesting person we’ve met in Rome has been a Swiss Guard named Til. This is his first year in the Guard. Although he doesn’t have much time because of his strict schedule, Til still enjoys relaxing with us playing board games or watching movies.
Life in Rome is challenging sometimes, but one thing you never lack is interesting people to talk to.


Life at Bernardi

group2A burst of laughter erupts from the small group gathered in the dark room as that familiar piano intro begins. Muscles tighten and eager glances are exchanged as the keyboard builds in quick crescendo. The theme song to The Office is playing once again in the lounge. As the instrumental chorus breaks out, a raucous accompaniment of drumming on sofas, tables, walls, and floor emphasizes the catchy beat of the tune and echoes throughout the halls of Bernardi letting everyone know that another episode has begun. This little piece of American Television imported in the form of a 4-DVD box set has become a favorite way for our remarkably close group to relax after another busy day in Roma.

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