PC Blogs

Friars in the Garden

While most people at home would immediately think of the P.C. Hockey team’s recent national championship victory in the TD Garden of Boston when they hear of “Friars in the Garden”, this Blog is actually about our recent day trip with CEA to the famous Ninfa Gardens, a beautiful nature reserve south of Rome.

All of our day trips and excursions have as their goal some sort of Italian cultural immersion.  But this outing could have even been dubbed an “environmental immersion”.  The Ninfa Gardens, declared a protected natural monument in 2000, include ruins of a medieval town, an English-style romantic garden, a 17th century hortus conclusus, a river, and a lake.  The best time for viewing is the Spring with an extravaganza of blooming plants, flowers, and trees.

ninfa3

This day trip was part of the curriculum of the popular “Environmental Ethics” class offered to P.C. students to fulfill their ethics core requirement.  Not a bad homework assignment!  Ninfa combines history, architecture, and nature.  One of the internationally famous aspects of the Gardens is its micro-climate and rare eco-system due to its location between the two contrasting geological formations of the Pontine plain and the Lepini hills.  It faces south and has at least four natural springs feeding the gardens with pure spring water and keeping the atmosphere temperate.

ninfa2

 

It is well known that Pope Francis has made environmental awareness part of his pontificate.  He has spoken about it in numerous speeches and press conferences, emphasizing the moral dimensions of protecting the environment.  Indeed, the Vatican will sponsor a one day conference entitled: “Protect the Earth, Dignify Humanity” next week here in Rome.  The U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will open the conference which will be attended by the economist Jeffrey Sachs, other world and religious leaders, and of course, many scientists.  The conference is in anticipation of Pope Francis’ forth-coming encyclical on global warming and the environment, set to be released this summer.

ninfa4

Our tour of the Ninfa Gardens complex not only provided a wonderful Spring day experience of sights,  sounds (over 150 types of birds!), and smells (so many flowers in bloom!), in anticipation of Earth Day this week, it also gave us a chance to think about Genesis and the human responsibility of the stewardship of creation.

ninfa

Go Friars!

The Eternal City and Theology Credits – Friars Have Their Say

CEA building Rome

The Spring 2015 P.C. in Rome program is fast approaching its end.  As we say in Rome – tempus fugit – time flies!  Although there is a tinge of melancholy in the air because we know we’ll be leaving Rome in a few weeks, we are grateful for our time here and the experiences we’ve had.

 

20140218-114007.jpgAs usual, the core course, New Testament in the Eternal City, has used Rome as its “classroom” and has provided us with many adventures during our weekly site visits.  Our other Theology course, The Catholic Church and Major World Religions, has also used site visits, guests speakers, and lectures to unpack the reality of inter-religious dialogue that is so crucial in today’s world.

 

20140218-114031.jpg

As we approach our final exam period and make a list of things we still need to see and do before departure, I asked the students to share their thoughts about their experience with PC/CEA in Rome.  I asked them to imagine speaking to a student back home in Providence who might be considering studying abroad next year.  What would they say to him or her about being in Rome?

Santa sabina 8

In other words, “why study theology in Rome”?  Here’s what some of them said:

“Studying theology in Rome is a great experience since we were able to connect with the New Testament on a physical level when we visited some of the most important sites of early Christianity.”  – Stephen Beck

 “I would encourage any PC student to pursue their theology cores in Rome simply because of the fact you’re in Rome.​  Our classes aren’t just sitting in a lecture hall, we actually go once a week to see some of the most ancient sites in the world where Christianity began.  It’s not an experience you can find anywhere else and it’s incredibly rewarding.” – Katie O’Brien

forum6

“As an accounting major with a rigorous business course load, I saved many of my core requirements, including my two theology classes, for my semester abroad, and I would recommend to anyone considering studying abroad in Rome to do the same. Seeing how the themes of the New Testament are manifested in churches and other historical sites throughout Rome has given me a deeper understanding of my faith that I will carry with me through the rest of my life.” – Kathleen McGinty

“Taking Theology in Rome has been a lot more enjoyable than I can imagine it to be at PC in a class room. As an accounting major I struggled in CIV and pushed off my theology requirements for this point exactly. We have site visits once a week, so we are out of the classroom exploring the city. Personally I wouldn’t have gone to nearly as many of the churches and places we got to go, but I was so happy I had the opportunity to do so. I highly recommend filing these requirements abroad!” – Emily Rose

 

St Paul 3

“Rome is the ultimate place to study theology. The city is our classroom and the guided site visits make the readings and lectures come to life in an incredible way. ” -Julia Averna

“Rome – full of religious history making it an ideal location to learn about theology. Being able to connect the city to theology classes makes for a rich and fulfilling educational experience.” – Maddy McDonald

Mary Major1
“Studying theology in Rome is incredible because you get to go on field trips during class time every week which are often very relevant to the course material and history of the Church. It’s a unique opportunity to learn, grow, and fulfill Core Requirements through this interactive and memorable experience. ” -Madeleine  Veith
 st john lateran11
“Studying theology in Rome has been such an amazing experience as everything we learn about in the classroom we are able to see in person. The correlation between the New Testament and the awesome site visits allows us to make connections that we never would have seen if not studying in Rome. Though I have taken theology classes at PC before, this has been my favorite by far as everything is so relevant to our daily lives here in the eternal city.” -Katherine Mahder
 Sistine chapel7
“Why study Theology in Rome? Because the environment is extremely conducive to learning theology. Physically being surrounded by ancient structures that relate to the course material instantly make this class uniquely beneficial and memorable. ” – Dan Elfman
Santa Sabina 2015
 Go Friars!

From Cunningham Square to St. Peter’s Square

“Seeing Pope Francis in such close proximity today at the Papal Audience has been one of the most exciting experiences during my semester abroad so far. The media always speaks about his compassion, and you could really see that today as he took the time to greet visitors from all over the world during his ride in the pope mobile around St. Peter’s Square.” – Kathleen McGinty

march 11 audience 4

Recently the P.C. in Rome program attended a Wednesday Papal Audience.  There were close to 40,000 people on hand to see Pope Francis, who was celebrating the two year anniversary of his election.  Each semester I register  Providence College in Rome as an official pilgrimage group so that we are recognized at the Audience we attend.  And so we were thrilled to hear “Providence College” formally welcomed during the introduction when various pilgrim groups and visiting dignitaries were introduced at the beginning of the Audience.

march 11 audience

“I really enjoyed my time at the Papal Audience yesterday morning. I thought the coolest part about it was all the babies that would be passed from hand to hand through the body guards so he would kiss them on the head and bless them. I really liked him driving by. It was unreal how close we were to him! I also thought it was interesting how everything was repeated so many different times by all the different languages. And it was also really cool to hear PC announced!” -Emily Rose

Attending a Wednesday Audience is a very unique experience.  Although open to all, you do need a ticket if you want a seat.  Tickets are free, but you must show up very early to get inside the Square since it’s open seating.  The Audience begins with the Pope riding in his “Popemobile” around the Square to be close to the people.  Pope Francis has the custom of making several passes through the Square so that as many people as possible can see him up close.

“I thought the papal audience was such a great experience.  I am personally not Catholic, but being a Christian I could still appreciate and feel how powerful this experience was.  It hit me while I was there that I will probably never see the Pope this “up close and personal” again.” -Becky McGuinness

march 11 audience 5

The Audience consists of prayers, Bible readings, a short talk by the Pope, and then greetings and blessings to all who are present, in several languages.  At the final Blessing, the Pope also blesses any medals, rosaries, or other mementos that those present have brought for his Blessing.

Pope Francis has recently been using his talks at the weekly audience to offer some catechesis on the family.  The talk he gave us was about the role of grandparents and the elderly in the Christian community.  He remarked that in our culture, it is not uncommon for the elderly to be “put aside” or neglected.  He urged us to see our elders in the faith as providing a rich spiritual resource of wisdom, prayer, and even leadership.

Image result for pope francis march 11 2015

“What struck me most about the papal audience was the emphasis that Pope Francis put on the influence that the elderly have on the young. I, personally, have been influenced greatly by my grandparents and they have instilled in me a great sense of faith through their own. I feel it is extremely important for the elderly to properly advise the young because their advice is invaluable. Prayer, as Pope Francis said, is vital for them to understand how to do so.” – Jack Gallo

march 11 audience 6
 “The papal audience was such an amazing experience. I truthfully didn’t know what to expect before I got there. When the Pope came out in his “pope mobile” it was so wonderful to see that he went around the whole entire crowd so that he would be able to greet everyone that came out to see him, bless some of the objects people handed him, and kiss the babies that he saw in the crowd.​” – Caitlin Lehane
march 11 audience 3
 “Seeing the Pope, so close and in person, was one of the coolest experiences I have ever had. Knowing that he lives so close to us and that his “house” is in our neighborhood made that experience unreal. I never thought that I would be able to be so close to the Pope before and I am so blessed that I was able to see him today!” – Kat Mahder
Image result for pope francis march 11 2015
GO FRIARS!

Santa Sabina and Dominican History

 

20131027-143506.jpg

Providence College was founded in 1917 by the Dominican Order.  The Dominican Tradition has its origin in the life and ministry of St. Dominic de Guzman (1172 – 1221), the son of a Spanish noble, who founded one of the largest religious Orders in the Catholic Church.  His charismatic vision of a way of responding to the needs of the Church in the thirteenth century led to the establishment of the Order of Preachers –popularly known as  the Dominicans.

Santa sabina 8

The PC in Rome program is rooted in and flows from the Catholic and Dominican mission of the College.  The students are able to experience, in very tangible ways, the Dominican “ethos” and “narrative” while studying here in Rome.

Santa Sabina 7

One way this happens is by visiting the world headquarters of the Dominican Order at Santa Sabina.

Santa Sabina

Santa Sabina basilica is the Mother Church of the Dominican Order and is located on top of one of the seven hills of Rome – the Aventine Hill.

Santa Sabina 3

This semester our tour was led by Fr. Dominic Izzo, O.P.  Fr. Izzo is a Rhode Island native, a P.C. grad, and former Provincial of the east coast province of Dominicans back home, the Province of St. Joseph.

Santa Sabina 2

Currently, Fr. Izzo serves on the General Council of the Order and works closely with the Master General.  His position is known as “Socius”.

Santa Sabina 4

 

Santa Sabina 5

Santa Sabina is a 5th century early Christian basilica built over the family home of St. Sabina. In the first century, the Aventine was the site of an affluent patrician neighborhood.  It is thought that Sabina was the patroness of a “house church” which means that Christians met at her home for prayer, worship, and celebration of the Eucharist.

Santa sabina 9

While explaining the art and architecture of this beautiful church,  Fr. Izzo also wove in the story of Dominic, his foundation of the Order, and his experiences while living in Rome.

Santa Sabina 12

After exploring the basilica, we went inside the residence or “convent” of the Dominicans.  This is where the cell of St. Dominic is located.  Transformed into a chapel, this room of Dominic made a deep impression on the students.  We said a prayer there together asking for Dominic’s help and inspiration.

Santa Sabina 6

Besides St. Dominic, there are other famous Dominicans who have lived at Santa Sabina.  A plaque on the wall listing former residents offers a veritable “Who’s Who” of Dominican history.  St. Albert the Great, St. Thomas Aquinas  and Pope St. Pius V all lived here at one time or another. We also saw  St. Pius V’s cell, which has been turned into a chapel as well.

Image result for santa sabina rome

I think it’s important for our students to get a sense of the international character of the Dominican Order, its history, legacy, and mission in the Church today.  Experiences like our tour of Santa Sabina should provide that. After all, a Friar is more than just a basketball mascot!

Santa Sabina 2015

 GO FRIARS!

 

Java in Roma!

coffee in rome2During their semester stay for Study Abroad in Rome, the students are obviously  immersed in “all things Italian”.   While there might be many similarities between Italy and the U.S., the truth is that daily life here can be very different from daily life at home.  Things we take for granted might not even cross the minds of Italians. Conversely, what they consider “normal” is often “strange” or “surprising” for Americans.

coffee in rome

Matthew Tinsley, a Theology Major and Finance Minor from Worcester, Massachusetts, has written a guest blog on the coffee culture of Italy.  Matt confesses to be a “coffee-oholic” at home.  And here he has noticed several differences in the way Italian understand, consume, and celebrate their most preferred beverage.  His reflections are below.

coffee in rome3

On a typical morning here in Rome, at around 9:00 A.M., I leave my apartment on Via Cola di Rienzo and head for class. I stop in a “bar” (café) along the way, stand at the counter, and order my coffee: “Prendo un caffè, per favore.” At a typical bar in the city you’ll find businessmen, construction workers, lawyers, policemen­­—people of all professions patiently standing together, enjoying simple conversation and waiting for their coffees. After finishing my espresso, I wave to the workers and continue on with my day. This is the coffee culture here in Rome. It is relaxed, conversational, and it is very much a part of the Roman daily routine.

When I think back to my experiences ordering coffee in New England, I picture this: A long and discouraging line of F-150s, covered in snow and sand, sitting at the Drive-Thru of a Dunkin Donuts. While this is hardly the only way to get coffee in the U.S., let us consider how this image contrasts from the coffee culture here in Rome.

How is the coffee itself different? The translation of “coffee” from English to Italian is “caffè,” yet each word refers to a different beverage. When Romans order caffè, they are really ordering a small cup of espresso. If I wanted the type of coffee that you would typically find at American diners, Dunkin’ Donuts, Honey Dew and so on, then I would have to specify, “caffè Americano”.

coffee in rome4

There are many, many ways to take your coffee here. A caffè lungo is an espresso with added water, whereas a caffè ristretto is a stronger, more concentrated espresso. There is the macchiato, which is coffee with milk, and it is served caldo, or freddo, hot or cold. One may order a caffè shakerato, which involves putting coffee and ice cubes in a shaker and serving it in a cocktail glass. After dinner, one might enjoy a caffè corretto, or coffee with added liquor, (typically Grappa or Sambuca). There is also the caffè marocchino, which consists of coffee mixed with chocolate powder. As you can imagine, the list goes on.

Indeed, there are many different types of coffee here in Italy, but in fairness, the same can be said of the U.S. How else could the coffee culture be different in Rome than in the States? I submit that the way people drink coffee here is much different. For example, Italians do not have an easy phrase for taking coffee “To-Go”; you would have to say, “caffè da portare via,” or literally “to take away.”

coffee in rome5

I have yet to see a major and dominant chain coffee company in Rome, let alone a “Drive-Thru” option for motorists. Romans prefer taking their time while drinking coffee; they’ll often enjoy a cup while standing at the cafe countertop, reading the newspaper or simply exchanging small-talk with the bartenders. If someone is eating or drinking while walking down the street, it is likely that that person is not Italian.

I have enjoyed observing the differences between the coffee culture in Italy and the U.S. I think this experience has given me a glimpse into the broader cultural traits of each country as a whole.

coffee in rome6

GO FRIARS!

 

Our Lady of the Snows

The record breaking snowfall in New England – measured now in feet rather than inches – has made international news.  Here in the Eternal City, we have certainly not had weather like that this Winter.   However, we did recently visit a place in Rome where it snowed in August!

St. Mary Major

According to a medieval legend, the Basilica of St. Mary Major was actually built because the Virgin Mary appeared to Pope Liberius (352-366AD)  in a dream and told him to  build a church dedicated to her where the snow would fall that night.  The snow Mary promised did appear on the Esquiline hill on August 5th, which is now the liturgical feast of our “Lady of the Snows”.  As the legend goes, the Pope drew in the snow with his staff where the basilica would stand.

Mary Major1

After a lecture on the Gospel of Luke, we toured the basilica which is dedicated to Mary, the Mother of God.  Luke’s theology of Mary in his Gospel is highly developed, casting her as a model of discipleship.  Actually built in the 5th century, in honor of the title “Mother of God”, conferred on Mary at the Council of Ephesus in 431AD, this church is the oldest one dedicated to Mary in the West.

“In the 5th century, the declaration at the Council of Ephesus stated that the Virgin was the Mother of God (Theotokos). This pivotal moment in Christian history started the movement to create churches to honor Mary, who is both the Mother of God and of all Christian people.” – Madeleine Veith

Mary Major6

“The site visit to the Basilica of Saint Mary Major fits perfectly with the theme of Luke’s Gospel.  This basilica was built in honor of Mary, the Mother of God, and is a testimony to the essential role of Mary in God’s plan of salvation history.” – EJ Sheehan

Mary Major5

Since medieval times, Romans have believed that the relics of the Manger of Bethlehem or even the whole Grotto itself was transferred into this basilica. The relics are kept under the main altar.  On Christmas morning, a procession of the Santa Culla, the Holy Crib, is held in the basilica.

“Beneath the most sacred part of the Basilica is what is believed to be wooden remnants of the actual crib of Jesus. One might look at this as the womb of the Basilica, which holds a piece of the sacrality of baby Jesus; as one would think of Mary’s own womb holding baby Jesus for nine months.” – Kadene Pitter

“Another attention grabber in the basilica is what some like to believe to be a part of the Holy Crib, or manger, of Jesus. This is interesting, because Luke’s Gospel has a Birth Christology, so Jesus would become the Messiah at his manger.” – Tim O’Connor

The walls of the central nave and the triumphal arch at the end of this nave are decorated with mosaics from the time of Sixtus III (432-440AD), making them the oldest mosaic cycle in Rome.

Mary Major4

This mosaic salvation history cycle is completed by the scenes of the Incarnation and the infancy of Christ on the triumphal arch.

Mary Major8

The apse is decorated with the central scene of the “Coronation of the Virgin”.  She shares the throne with Christ who crowns her as queen of the cosmos.

Mary Major3

 

Mary Major7

“The Basilica of St. Mary Major is itself a testament to Mary’s great faith. In the apse mosaic, in which Mary is seated with Jesus on the same throne, she gestures with her hands towards Jesus, signifying that He is the “main attraction” and that it’s not about her.” – Stephen Beck

Mary Major9

St. Mary Major also contains an ancient icon of Mary known as the Salus populi Romani, which hangs in a side chapel built by Pope  Paul V. This Byzantine-style icon is from the ninth century, but pious Medieval Romans believed it was painted by the evangelist St. Luke. Mary is represented holding Jesus, who is dressed in a golden tunic and holds a scroll. The hands of Mary are crossed in front of her child. One hand exposes two fingers, which is a sign of the two natures of the person of Christ, who is both human and divine.

Mary Major10

Pope Francis has a special devotion to this image of Mary who is the “help and salvation of the Roman people”.  The morning after his election as Pope, he made a special visit to pray in this chapel.  And now every time he travels, he prays there beforehand to ask her intercession on his journey.  Upon his return to Rome, he goes to thank her and usually leaves flowers from the place he has been.

St. Mary Major2

St. Mary Major3

 

Mary Major2

Go Friars!

 

St. Francis, St. Clare, and the Franciscan Revolution

Assisi 2

Assisi 9Last week CEA arranged a trip to Umbria for us. We visited the town of Assisi, the birthplace of St. Francis and St. Clare, co-founders of the Franciscan Order.

Assisi 11

On the bus ride up to Assisi, I was able to give a brief talk about St. Francis and his remarkable life. We discussed his family life, his dramatic conversion, and his mission to the poor, the sick, the marginalized, and the forgotten.  I told them about his trip to meet the Sultan on a mission of peace and his efforts to heal divisions and reconcile enemies. Finally, we discussed some of the “iconic scenes” of his life which live on in the history and spirituality of the Franciscans.

Assisi 9

As a true reformer, Francis challenged the Church of his day to conform itself more closely to the Gospel of Christ and the ideals of the Sermon on the Mount.  We also discussed the choice of the name “Francis” by our current Pope. Upon reflection, we realized that perhaps we are witnessing in our own day another “Francis revolution” with the preaching and example of Papa Francesco.

Assisi 2015h

Assisi 2015g

The basilica of St. Francis was the highlight for most of us.  We were able to decipher many of the frescoes that portrayed biblical stories and then had the challenge of understanding the stories of Francis’ life in their context.

Assisi 2015f

Assisi 5

Assisi 2015b

Using our New Testament in the Eternal City course as a backdrop, we could more easily understand the stories of the life of Francis and the birth of the Franciscan Order.

Assisi 4

Assisi 2015

There is a story – some would day legend – that St. Francis and St. Dominic actually met and became friends.  Their meeting and fraternal charity towards one another is to be a corrective to any rivalry or “unholy competition” between the two religious Orders of Franciscans and Dominicans.  Their encounter has been portrayed in painting, stained glass, and sculpture by both religious families.  (In fact, there is a stained glass window in St. Dominic’s Chapel on campus that depicts it.)

Assisi 6

More than just a way to escape from the “big city life” of Rome, these cultural trips in our study abroad experience expose students to Italian culture, art, architecture, food, and history. The sights and sounds of Assisi and the Umbrian countryside made a lasting impression on everyone who went.

Assisi 2015c

Assisi 2015e

The fresh air, beautiful sights, good food, and camaraderie reminded us how special the study abroad experience is. Assisi is known as the “City of Peace”.  And it did not disappoint!

Assisi 2015d

Go Friars!

 

Foodie Friars in Rome

Image result for pasta

P.C. students who come to Rome to study abroad find out very quickly how serious the Italians are about food.  It’s practically their religion! Enjoying Italian cuisine, learning to dine in courses, and even trying out popular Italian recipes are all a part of the cultural experience of Italy. Our students eventually realize that “eating is more than just eating” for the Italians.  I asked the students if they would like to share their experience of food and study abroad.  Miguel Bermudez, a Business Management major with a Spanish minor, from Houston, Texas, took up the challenge.  His reflection is below:

Food in Italy

As we all know, the food in Italy is pretty bomb. There is no doubt about that.  Yes it is true, that the gelato and pizza are delicious- but you would be surprised at how much skinnier Italians are compared to Americans considering how amazing their food is.  With that being said, Italian breakfasts are so different.  Unlike an American breakfast, Italians usually have a cappuccino with a croissant for breakfast and that’s about it (no eggs or bacon, sadly).  With that being said, you get hooked on their cappuccinos considering that they taste so good and only cost 1 euro!

foodblog

As for lunch, you assimilate to having pizza and pasta almost every day.  There are “pizzerias”, as they are known here in Italy, almost everywhere you go!  Think of Starbucks in D.C. and Dunkin’ Donuts in Rhode Island (if you’ve ever visited) and multiply it times ten to get a good estimate of how many pizzerias there are in Italy.

foodblog2

One of the cool activities that CEA offers here in Rome is a pasta making class.  About 20 of us signed up for it and found out just how interesting and easy it is to make pasta.  Most of us know how to cook pasta but we all definitely learned how to make pasta.  In this case, we cooked a fettuccine type of pasta. The ingredients include an egg and about one pint of flour.  You crack the egg, mix it with the flour, and stir it until you have a nice, soft ball of dough.  After a few minutes of trying to get the ball as smooth as possible, you then flatten it out with the rolling pin.  Lastly, you slice the dough into long and thick strips of fettuccine and cook it how you would normally cook pasta at home.

foodblog3

 

foodblog4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

foodblog5

As delicious, amazing, and outstanding as the Italian food can be, I cannot be away from Mexican food for that long.  I am of Mexican descent and was raised eating my mother’s and family’s one of a kind Mexican dishes.  If you ever tell me that Taco Bell is the best Mexican food that you have ever had and that Chipotle is your life, I will possibly cut you.  Being in Rome, there is one Mexican restaurant named La Cucaracha (The Cockroach) that has the best reviews online and by word-of-mouth.  It might be a horrible name for a restaurant once translated into English but it actually fits very appropriately.  The reason is because la cucaracha is a Mexican folk song that arose during the Mexican Revolution and to this day is very well-known among other Latin American countries as well.  If you are familiar with the group of Mexican musicians known as mariachi then you will realize that this folk song is a classic that is always played.  This restaurant is so busy that you have to call ahead of time to make a reservation if you go there for dinner!

foodblog6

My roommates and I decided to make a reservation and check it out.  The restaurant is located on Via Mocenigo, 10, 00192, which is only a short 15 minute walk from our apartment.  To my huge surprise, we were seated, served, and done eating in about 30 minutes.  What I liked about their menu was that it was divided into Tex-Mex and authentic Mexican food. I ordered green enchiladas from the authentic side of the menu while one of my roommates ordered Tex-Mex enchiladas.  What I will say is that the plates were a bit pricey compared to the small servings that are given.  An average plate costs about 12-14 euros while their delicious margaritas (that Dr. Hagstrom said to “stay away” from!) cost 8 euros.

foodblog7

But even though we paid more than what we ate, the food was still amazing! The workers are nice and they give student discounts. (They are from the same city that my parents are from: Acapulco, Guerrero!)  I would recommend this restaurant to all the Mexican food lovers and I would definitely recommend bringing a hot Italian date here if you ever have trouble thinking of a place to take them!

foodblog8

Go Foodie Friars!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Viva La Repubblica! Viva Italia!

Long live the Republic!  Long live Italy!

With these words the newly-elected 12th President of Italy, Sergio Mattarella, ended his inauguration speech earlier this week.  After a very short campaign season and voting process (according to American standards), Mattarella was inaugurated as president on February 3rd.  He succeeds President Giorgio Napolitano, who had served two terms in office.

The day of the presidential inauguration was full of pomp, circumstance, and ceremony. The process is known as the “insediamento” or literally the “seating of the president” –  taking his seat of office – or to put it more ceremoniously,  “enthronement’.  It is full of rituals, flags, and anthems that all symbolize the transition of power to someone new.

Since we had just visited the Roman Forum last week while studying the Roman context of early Christianity, it was difficult not to compare these presidential festivities with some aspects of the ancient Romans’ display, affirmation,  and use of  imperial power.

 

forum10

The Military was, of course, involved at various points of the day, including a cannon salute, wreath-laying at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and a military jet fly over.  There was also a motorcade parade through the streets of Rome when President Mattarella rode in a special car usually used for the June Military parade.

These events reminded us a little of the Roman Emperors riding in their chariots through the streets of Rome or the procession of returning Roman generals parading their spoils of victory under the forty Arches in the Roman Forum when they came home from war.

forum8

President Matarella’s visits to the Parliament and Senate, and his taking possession of the presidential palace, reminded us of seeing the Roman Senate building in the Forum and the Rostrum where speeches were delivered and received by the Roman people.  Indeed, being in Rome for these 21st century events of Italian politics helped us to make a connection to what we were learning in the classroom and on-site, while exploring the Roman context of the New Testament.

Roman Senate Forum

Here are a few of the students’ reactions to our Roman Forum site visit:

“Visiting the Forum has been one of my favorite sites because of the history behind the ruins and the ease at which I can grasp its significance.  The additions and restoration of certain parts of the site are interesting because they contribute to the rich history that the location and city represent.” – Miguel Bermudez

“The left over ruins of what was once the Roman Forum are a reliable source available for us to help us better understand the significance of life in ancient Rome since every event of importance took place in the heart of the eternal city… public speeches, trials, elections, ceremonies, funerals, and other public functions.” -Alexa Lombardo

forum6

“Formerly known as the beating heart of Rome, where religious, political, and commercial life converged, the Roman Forum and its ruins trace the history of Rome from the time of the city’s development through the Middle Ages.” – Kathleen McGinty

“Our class trip to the Roman Forum was very enlightening and filled with so much ancient history… With monuments like those in the Forum, we are able to learn about the lives and beliefs of those earliest Christians.”  -Caitlin Lehane

Go Friars!

 

 

 

Football, Soccer, or Calcio?

 

Olympic Stadium, Rome

This is Super Bowl week back home in the States.  Millions of Americans are buying big screen TVs, betting on teams in their office pool, and comparing recipes for their favorite foods, snacks, and dips.  Even if they are not football fans, many Americans will sit down to watch the biggest game of the year.  (Go Patriots!)

Here in Italy, the number one national sport is also football – except it’s called “soccer” or “calcio“. Last weekend a few of our P.C. in Rome students  decided to go on a great adventure by attending an Italian calcio match here in Rome.  Jimmy De Bowes, a finance major from New Haven, CT., shares his experience below:

soccer

Lazio and Roma both play their homes games about a mile and a half from our apartment in Prati so attending a game was a no-brainer. Going to an Italian soccer (calcio) game was unlike any sporting event I’ve ever been to. The cheapest way to get tickets was to walk a quarter mile to a Lazio apparel shop that doubles as a ticket office. For anyone going in the future, be careful not to believe the street vendors/scalpers who tell you the game is sold out and try to sell you overprice tickets. You need to show your passport to even get into the shop.”

soccer3

“Then, once you get to the stadium, they look at your passport and ticket three separate times. But the game was well worth the trouble. We shared our love for soccer with a few local fans sitting near us who spoke Italian and English, which made the environment even better. I was surprised to see they sell hot dogs at the game. A vendor will also walk around to sell you water and boxes of crackers that you would see at the supermarket.”

soccer8

“Stadio Olimpico is huge and the fans are passionate. The Lazio fans wave giant flags the entire game and set off fireworks and smoke bombs when their team scores. The fans are loud and obnoxious just like they are at American football games, but Lazio fans continue to celebrate long after a goal is scored. Thank God the Lazio and visitor (Milan) fans sit in different sections on different sides of the stadium, because they all have a deep hatred for any opposing team. The die-hard fans sit in a high-demand, sold-out section called Curva Nord. With so much security on site, I’m still confused as to how these fans get flags and fireworks into the stadium.”

 

soccer7

 

“After an early goal in the 4th minute from Milan, Lazio put up 3 unanswered and won 3-1.  Despite the score, it was an intense game with several injuries, cards and a brawl started by soon to be suspended Milan defender Philippe Mexès.” – Jimmy DeBowes.

Of course, Providence College loves soccer.  Last season our Men’s Soccer team won the Big East championship. And a few of our players were recently selected in the 2015 Major League Soccer Super Draft.

 Go Friars!

PC Blogs