Arrivederci Roma!

Arrivederci Roma!

Posted by: on April 30, 2016   |Comments (0)|Uncategorized

Tiber-river

It’s hard to believe that the students and I have finished our four months in Rome.  Tempus fugit, time flies, as the ancient Romans said.  This past week was final exam period and our lives were full of exams, papers, presentations, and final projects.  We enjoyed a festive CEA farewell dinner to end our academic semester last night and today most of the students are flying back home.

I like to say that “Rome is not a city, it’s a drug!”  And all of us have become addicted!  Already some of the students are planning a return trip to the Eternal City as soon as their bank accounts allow.  The Italians believe that one way to assure a return to Rome is by throwing a coin in the Trevi Fountain.  During the semester, all of us have thrown at least a few coins in that famous place.

Trevi fountain

For me, personally, this is more than just the end of another semester, but rather the end of my three year term as Faculty Resident Director here.  I will be returning to the home campus in Providence after six wonderful semesters of having the blessing and the privilege of teaching Theology at the heart of the Church.  Since the days of my doctoral studies in Rome at the Angelicum, I always dreamt of being able to teach in “the city of apostles, martyrs, and saints”.  And these three years have been a dream come true.

New Testament textbook

During our last week together, I asked the students to share their thoughts about their experience with PC/CEA in Rome. I asked them to reflect on their time here in Rome and their experience of studying Theology. What they would say to a student back home who is considering studying abroad next year?  What advice might they give to someone who was considering spending a semester in the Eternal City?  Is there any reason why Rome should be the preferred place for studying Theology?

Here’s what some of them said:

“Rome might actually be the best place in the world to study theology, especially Catholic theology because of the historical and present relevance. You can’t go three blocks without passing some important church or site, with the biggest site, of course, being the Vatican.” Bryan Blum

“Studying theology in Rome is a unique experience because we have been able to learn not only from lectures and textbooks, but from the city itself. I have gained so much more insight about theology and also about my faith through the incredible sites that we have visited throughout the semester.” Alex Brady

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“I think Rome is one of the most important places in the world to study theology. I have found that studying so close to the Vatican has given me so many opportunities to broaden my faith and learn more about Christianity than I ever could in a classroom in the states.” Abby Chave

“Rome is the ideal picture book to use to teach Catholics about the historical, political, and religious significance of their religion.” Caragh Corcoran

“The city of Rome is a visual theology in itself…” Lacey Sullivan

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“Rome is the center for the theology of the Catholic religion and the heart of the Papacy. There is no better city to explore the beliefs of Catholicism than Rome…” Peter DiCenso

“The sites that we have visited this semester in the eternal city of Rome have brought theology to light in a whole new way that is unmatched by any other city.” Erin Wallace

“My experience of studying theology in Rome is much more than learning the history of the papacy or learning the different Christologies of the Gospels. Having the opportunity to study theology in Rome has brought me to a greater understanding of the values that Providence College stands for and how these values create such a strong sense of community.” Haley Grant McHugh

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“Everyone knows that Rome is the center of the Catholic Church. However, it is not until you visit all the basilicas, catacombs, and historical sites firsthand while learning about the New Testament and its history that you truly understand what this entails. With every site you visit in Rome, you get a little better sense of the history and foundation of the Catholic Church and how it is still relevant in your life today.” Jamie Russo

“Rome holds the threshold of the apostles, over 500 churches, and an undeniable spiritual richness that attracts pilgrims worldwide. Studying in Rome and studying theology go hand in hand, complimenting each other in a way that allows the pilgrim to see both in a new and invaluable way, that has the potential to reshape from the inside out.” Alley Harbour

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“The amount of Christian history that is available in our backyard is amazing… Rome is filled with historic sites that have shaped the foundations of Christianity. I would not want to study theology anywhere else.” Griffin Colpitts

“Studying theology in Rome is a fantastic opportunity because Rome is the center of the Catholic faith.  There is no better way to learn about Peter, Paul, and their teachings on which the Church was built than doing so minutes from their burial sites.” Marco Scozzari

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“To study theology in Rome has been truly an incredible experience. It has given me the opportunity to really learn about and understand my faith in an entirely new and enlightening way… through the visual theology we were so lucky to be able to witness on our weekly site visits here in Rome, the center of the Catholic faith.” Nick Berardi

“Studying prominent figures in the Bible has been an incredible learning experience, but there is definitely  something special that happens when you get to see what you are learning come to life through the visual theology.  Studying in Rome has enhanced my understanding of Theology because of our site-visits.” Paige Silengo

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“I believe that it is important to study theology in Rome because of the rich spiritual history that lies deep in the roots of Roman history.”  Grace King

“I really feel that there is no better place to learn about Christianity that here in Rome.  In just about four months, we’ve visited so many locations that are important to Christianity.  We’ve walked through the holy doors, gone to the Papal Audience, visited the basilicas of Peter and Paul, and seen some of the oldest frescoes including images of Mary and the infant Jesus.  We would not have been to experience these things in any other country!” Gianna Luciano

Santa Priscilla Madonna image

“In college, it is easy to forget the foundations of your faith that you were taught when you were younger. Being in Rome and not only learning about the beginnings of Christianity, but also being able to see the places where they happened, or great churches erected in honor of saints and martyrs, it gives it such a deeper meaning.” Lilly Steeves

Pope-Francis-mosaic-St-Pauls-Basilica

Student quotes like these – and many others in past Blogs during these six semesters – say more than I ever could in an executive summary or an administrative report about my time here.  I’m convinced that the PC in Rome Program flows from the very heart of the Catholic, Dominican mission of the College.  And each year student testimonies have confirmed that.

I would like to end my final Blog with one more quotation.  It’s a well-known quote from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow concerning Rome and it expresses quite well my thoughts and feelings during my bittersweet departure from this beautiful city.

“There is the centre to which all gravitates.

One finds no rest elsewhere than here.

There may be other cities that please us for a while,

but Rome alone completely satisfies.

It becomes to all a second native land by predilection,

and not by accident of birth alone.”

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Go Friars!

 

 

It’s hard to believe that the students and I have finished our four months in Rome.  Tempus fugit, time flies, as the ancient Romans said.  This past week was final exam period and our lives were full of exams, papers, presentations, and final projects.  We enjoyed a festive CEA farewell dinner to end our academic […]MORE

A Visit to the Mother Church of the Friars in Rome

Posted by: on March 19, 2016   |Comments (0)|Theology classes in Rome

16 march 4

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 Providence College 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 exterior

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

16 march 2

This semester our tour was led by Fr. Michael Mascari, O.P.  Currently, Fr. Mascari serves on the General Council of the Order and works closely with the Master General.  His position is known as “Socius for the Intellectual Life”.  He is also a former member of the Board of Trustees of Providence College.

16 march

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 doors 2

Santa Sabina mosaic

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

16 march 3

Santa Sabina doors

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.

16 march 5

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.

16 march 6

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!

 GO FRIARS!

 

 

 

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 […]MORE

San Clemente: Archaeology and the New Testament

Posted by: on January 28, 2016   |Comments (0)|Uncategorized

“The intricate design and archaeology of San Clemente reveals invaluable information and background about the New Testament.” Ashlee Robinson

Interior-chapel San Clemente church 12th cent

One of the things we are learning in our New Testament in the Eternal City course  is that archaeology is imperative for the study of the New Testament. There is no chance of understanding Jesus, Peter, Paul, Mary, or the early Christians without understanding their world.  And there is no way to reconstruct their world without archaeology.  In fact, archaeology is so important in Rome, that the Vatican has an office devoted solely to its study called The Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archaeology. 

left-aisle San Clemente 4th cent church

How can the study of archaeology help us to understand the New Testament?  This is the question we asked during our recent site visit to the Basilica of San Clemente. Our Scripture course includes not only classroom lectures, but also on site visits to particular places in Rome that are significant for Christian history, theology, and spirituality.

apse-mosaic San Clemente church 12th cent

By tradition, St. Clement (92-101 AD) was a bishop in Rome who gave his life as a martyr for Christ. Fourth-century accounts speak of his forced labor in the mines during exile to the Crimea in the reign of the emperor Trajan (98-117 AD) and his missionary work there which prompted the Romans to bind him to an anchor and throw him into the Black Sea.  His relics were recovered and are under the main altar of the church.

According to the oldest list of Roman bishops, he was the third successor to St Peter in Rome (after Linus and Cletus). The First Eucharistic Prayer of the Mass, known as the “Roman Canon”, mentions St. Clement in the list of bishops and saints of Rome through whose merits and prayers the faithful seek help and protection.  The church in Rome dedicated to him is said to be built over a first century house which belonged to his family.

StClementMass San Clemente churchThe church of San Clemente is like a “layered cake” of archaeological wonder.  The present basilica is from the 12th century, but underneath is a 5th century basilica and below that is a first century house, warehouse, and Mithraic temple.  These sites were excavated beginning in the 19th century under the guidance of an Irish Dominican priest, Fr. Mullooly, who was prior of San Clemente.  Indeed, the Irish Dominicans have been the custodians of San Clemente since the 17th century.  In this way, Providence College has a kind of “connection” with San Clemente since they are both Dominican institutions.

the-mithraic-schoolroom San Clemente church 1st centArchaeological artifacts can profoundly affect our understanding of the New Testament’s message.  And visiting some of the most important archaeological sites in Rome this semester will teach us much about the lives and beliefs of the early Christians.

tufa-block-building San Clemente church 1st centHere are a few quotes from the papers the students wrote after our site visit:

“This excavation, along with many in Rome, has helped to give insight into the meaning of aspects of scripture … Therefore, these discoveries are not just for mere curiosity but are important to understanding the Catholic faith in its truest form.” Matt Griffin

right-aisle San Clemente 4th cent church

“Our first site visit to San Clemente emphasized the points of revelation, historical context, and the importance of the written word that we had discussed in our first class.” Grace King

altar-of-mithras San Clemente church 1st cent

“Having San Clemente be our first site visit seemed to be very appropriate in understanding the purpose of the New Testament. Its history is more than just an interesting tour—for Christians, it still holds relevance today.” Evan Juliano

alleyway San Clemente church 1st cent

Go Friars!

“The intricate design and archaeology of San Clemente reveals invaluable information and background about the New Testament.” Ashlee Robinson One of the things we are learning in our New Testament in the Eternal City course  is that archaeology is imperative for the study of the New Testament. There is no chance of understanding Jesus, Peter, […]MORE

Tempus Fugit! Arrivederci Roma!

Posted by: on December 2, 2015   |Comments (0)|Theology classes in Rome

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“…Of course studying in Ireland, Paris, or London would be an amazing experience, but Rome is the only place to fully grasp the entirety of what the Church really means and what faith really entails.”  Rachel Reilly

“Studying in Rome has exposed me to the roots of the religion I live and practice everyday. Living and studying in the place that is heart of Christianity, my faith has flourished… Rome has proved that as a theology student it is a lot more interesting to be the neighbor of Pope Francis than to sit in Siena hall at 8:30 in the morning!” Kathryn McDougal

“Why study theology in Rome? When you enter a church in Rome you are filled with the feeling of amazement as you now have a deeper and richer understanding of the history behind the church and the New Testament.” Colleen Toomey

Nov 2015 PC in Rome Spatz Photo 2

The Fall 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 soon, we are grateful for our time here and the experiences we’ve had. There’s a Roman tradition that says if you throw a coin in the Trevi Fountain, you’re guaranteed to return to Rome.  By now, all of us have probably thrown more than one coin there!  This week is final exam period and our lives are full of exams, papers, presentations, and final projects.  We’ll enjoy a festive CEA farewell dinner to end our academic semester and then start packing to go home. Trevi fountain

As we 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 reflect on their time here in Rome and their experience of studying Theology. What they would say to a student back home who is considering studying abroad next year?  What advice might they give to someone who was considering spending a semester in the Eternal City?  Is there any reason why Rome should be the preferred place for studying Theology?

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Here’s what some of them said:

“The answer to the question “why study theology in Rome?” is simple: because there is no better place to do it!…Having the Vatican as my neighbor and visiting new Basilicas every week has been an incredible experience that I didn’t even know I would have…
There is no better place to learn, understand, and appreciate the foundations of our religion than in Rome. It’s that simple!”  Kristen Sheridan

“It is an amazing opportunity to get out of the classroom and see famous Roman monuments and Basilicas that tie into the theology we are learning in the New Testament. Nothing can compare to seeing these connections first hand!” Brittany Aylmer

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“It is a truly humbling experience to walk through an amazing Roman church with family and friends and having the ability to explain the theological themes presented in the artwork and images. Not only do you learn about the Church as a whole, but you learn about yourself, your inner personality, values, and beliefs.”  Jordyn D’Esposito

“Rome is an ideal place to study theology because it is the center of the Catholic Church, and theological landmarks and ideas can be found throughout the entire city. Rome is not only rich in theology, but in general history as well, which makes it a perfect place to study.” Tori Strain

Mary Major1

“The real question should be why not study abroad in Rome? There is no other place to be able to truly unravel the mystery of Christ. Not only do I feel closer with my Catholic religion, but also I feel as if from this experience I am able to go on and positively spread the word about what I’ve learned. Needless to say there is no place like Rome, my new home.”  Jenna Zolla

“I have grown up a practicing Catholic my whole life and I have learned more in these past 3 months about my religion than any other theological setting I have ever been a part of in my life… I have never felt better informed about the history of my faith until studying it in Rome… learning about theology in Rome is unlike any other theological experience because you get to see everything first hand which makes everything you learn in the classroom come to light right in front of your eyes.” Claire Beatty

Sistine chapel7

“…to actually physically see these famous Basilicas that hold magnificent mosaics, architecture, and history makes a tremendous difference when learning about them.  Actually seeing many theological sites that are so important to the world, helps you grasp why and how they are there…This is why you should study Theology in Rome – especially Rome because it has so much history to offer.” Elizabeth Kirby

“Studying Theology in Rome is like meeting the saints and great theologians. They are brought to life through knowledge and they are given a face and context in Rome. Your textbook is the city, and the pages are endless and more beautiful than the last.”  Ana Gadoury

NT textbook

“I have been given the opportunity to see the New Testament through the eyes of an early Christian Believer. And its absolutely fascinating. To be able to go into the Catacombs, and see the symbolism, the artwork, of the early Church. To hear the stories, and see them come alive through the mosaics in churches like San Clemente. To walk around St. Peters and know that the obelisk I was gazing at was the same one St. Peter gazed at as he was been crucified upside down. And as weird as it may sound, I know that the spirit of the early Christian Church is still within this Holy City: flowing and moving, inspiring, and serving as a great testimony about a man named Jesus Christ.” Vanesa Zuleta

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Go Friars!

 

 

“…Of course studying in Ireland, Paris, or London would be an amazing experience, but Rome is the only place to fully grasp the entirety of what the Church really means and what faith really entails.”  Rachel Reilly “Studying in Rome has exposed me to the roots of the religion I live and practice everyday. Living […]MORE

San Clemente and Digging Into the Past

Posted by: on September 11, 2015   |Comments (0)|Uncategorized

“My new and exciting theological journey began last week when we went to our first site visit to San Clemente.” Jenna Zolla

One of the things we are learning in our New Testament in the Eternal City course  is that archaeology is imperative for the study of the New Testament. There is no chance of understanding Jesus, Peter, Paul, Mary, or the early Christians without understanding their world.  And there is no way to reconstruct their world without archaeology.  In fact, archaeology is so important in Rome, that the Vatican has an office devoted solely to its study called The Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archaeology. 

left-aisle San Clemente 4th cent church

How can the study of archaeology help us to understand the New Testament?  This is the question we asked during our recent site visit to the Basilica of San Clemente. Our Scripture course includes not only classroom lectures, but also on site visits to particular places in Rome that are significant for Christian history, theology, and spirituality.

Interior-chapel San Clemente church 12th centBy tradition, St. Clement (92-101 AD) was a bishop in Rome who gave his life as a martyr for Christ. Fourth-century accounts speak of his forced labor in the mines during exile to the Crimea in the reign of the emperor Trajan (98-117 AD) and his missionary work there which prompted the Romans to bind him to an anchor and throw him into the Black Sea.  His relics were recovered and are under the main altar of the church.

StClementMass San Clemente churchThe church of San Clemente is like a “layered cake” of archaeological wonder.  The present basilica is from the 12th century, but underneath is a 5th century basilica and below that is a first century house, warehouse, and Mithraic temple.  These sites were excavated beginning in the 19th century under the guidance of an Irish Dominican priest, Fr. Mullooly, who was prior of San Clemente.  Indeed, the Irish Dominicans have been the custodians of San Clemente since the 17th century.  In this way, Providence College has a kind of “connection” with San Clemente since they are both Dominican institutions.

the-mithraic-schoolroom San Clemente church 1st centArchaeological artifacts can profoundly affect our understanding of the New Testament’s message.  And visiting some of the most important archaeological sites in Rome this semester will teach us much about the lives and beliefs of the early Christians.

tufa-block-building San Clemente church 1st centHere are a few quotes from the papers the students wrote after our site visit:

As we begin to study the New Testament against a Roman backdrop, I have already come to a better understanding of the New Testament as a whole. The site visit to the Church of San Clemente allowed the class not only to learn, but also to see.”  Abby Shelley

“At San Clemente Church, we were able to see a few of these fresco paintings. The thing that stood out to me most was while that they were very beautiful as a painting from hundreds of years ago, it was clear that this was not simply a work for worship, rather for teaching.”  Taylor Klopatek

right-aisle San Clemente 4th cent church

“I think that it is necessary to learn as much as possible about the ancient Mediterranean world. Understanding the time period and what that world was like will transform our understanding of God’s message.” Brittany Aylmer

“The importance of studying the New Testament within the context of also directly experiencing historical and religious sights is going to greatly influence how we understand the New Testament.” Victoria Strain

altar-of-mithras San Clemente church 1st cent

“The ideas represented in the New Testament along with the layers of history revealed upon excavation of the basilica of San Clemente allow a better understanding of Christianity and God’s revelation.” Jacqueline Gray

alleyway San Clemente church 1st cent

Go Friars!

 

“My new and exciting theological journey began last week when we went to our first site visit to San Clemente.” Jenna Zolla One of the things we are learning in our New Testament in the Eternal City course  is that archaeology is imperative for the study of the New Testament. There is no chance of […]MORE

Santa Sabina and Dominican History

Posted by: on April 1, 2015   |Comments (0)|Study Abroad

 

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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!

 

  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 […]MORE

St. Peter – Pray for Us!

Posted by: on November 24, 2014   |Comments (0)|Study Abroad

 

scavi tour7

Our last site visit for the New Testament in the Eternal City course was to the excavations underneath St. Peter’s Basilica.  Called the “Scavi San Pietro”, these 20th century archaeological excavations have revealed the ancient Roman cemetery under St. Peter’s Basilica and Square.

scavi tour2

Begun in secret in the 1940’s during the pontificate of Pope Pius XII, these excavations were not open to the public until the 1970’s and then only in a very limited way.  Today a visit to the “Scavi” is a very exclusive tour in Rome that most people never experience, even if they live here.  So, this was a very important site visit!

scavi tour4

St. Peter was crucified in the Emperor Nero’s stadium or “circus”  on the Vatican Hill about 64AD. Next to Nero’s stadium was a cemetery and St. Peter’s body was buried there.  At first it was a very simple grave with clay tiles over it for protection from the elements.  But in a very short time the early Christians added a more elaborate grave marker which was known as a “trophy”.  About 200 AD a Roman priest named Gauis tells us that he “can show anyone the two “trophies” of the Apostles Peter and Paul…  One is on the Via Ostia and one is on the Vatican Hill”. Gaius was speaking of the graves of the martyred apostles already as a site of pilgrimage for Christians the world over.

scavi tour3

The traditional Christian pilgrimage to Rome to pray at the two tombs of the Apostles became known as the “ad limina apostolorum”.  “Ad limina” means literally “to the thresholds of the Apostles”, that is, the thresholds of their tombs.  In fact, it became a tradition very early on that all bishops must visit the tombs of the two “princes of the Apostles”, Peter and Paul, to be spiritually connected to the two founders of the Church at Rome.

scavi tour6

One of the earliest titles for the Pope is “Successor of Peter and Paul”.  And one of the responsibilities of the Pope in Rome is to be a “custodian of the tombs of the Apostles”. That is, the Pope must ensure that access to the tombs is given to pilgrims and that prayer and worship are unhindered at these holy sites.

scavi tour8

We were told by our tour guide that Pope Francis is the first Pope to visit the entirety of these excavations under the basilica.

Scavi tour

 

Papa Francesco visita la necropoli vaticana

In our New Testament course this semester we have now visited both tombs of the Apostles, and so have completed the “ad limina apostolorum”, the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls and the Basilica of St. Peter.  What a great way to end the semester!  St. Peter – pray for us!

 

  Our last site visit for the New Testament in the Eternal City course was to the excavations underneath St. Peter’s Basilica.  Called the “Scavi San Pietro”, these 20th century archaeological excavations have revealed the ancient Roman cemetery under St. Peter’s Basilica and Square. Begun in secret in the 1940’s during the pontificate of Pope […]MORE

Theology and Archaeology

Posted by: on September 11, 2014   |Comments (0)|Study Abroad

How can the study of archaeology help us to understand the New Testament?  This is the question we asked during our recent site visit to the Basilica of San Clemente. Our course on the New Testament in the Eternal City includes not only classroom lectures, but also on site visits to particular places in Rome that are significant for Christian history, theology, and spirituality.

Interior-chapel San Clemente church 12th centBy tradition, St. Clement (92-101 AD) was a bishop in Rome who gave his life as a martyr for Christ. Fourth-century accounts speak of his forced labour in the mines during exile to the Crimea in the reign of the emperor Trajan (98-117 AD) and his missionary work there which prompted the Romans to bind him to an anchor and throw him into the Black Sea.  His relics were recovered and are under the main altar of the church.

StClementMass San Clemente churchThe church of San Clemente is like a “layered cake” of archaeological wonder.  The present basilica is from the 12th century, but underneath is a 5th century basilica and below that is a first century house, warehouse, and Mithraic temple.  These sites were excavated beginning in the 19th century under the guidance of an Irish Dominican priest, Fr. Mullooly, who was prior of San Clemente.  Indeed, the Irish Dominicans have been the custodians of San Clemente since the 17th century.  In this way, Providence College has a kind of “connection” with San Clemente since they are both Dominican institutions.

left-aisle San Clemente 4th cent churchWhat we are learning is that archaeology is imperative for the study of the New Testament. There is no chance of understanding Jesus, Peter, Paul, Mary, or the early Christians without understanding their world.  And there is no way to reconstruct their world without archaeology.  In fact, archaeology is so important in Rome, that the Vatican has an office devoted solely to its study.  The Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archaeology coordinates both the Roman Pontifical Academy of Archaeology and the Pontifical  Institute of Christian Archaeology.

the-mithraic-schoolroom San Clemente church 1st centArchaeological artifacts can profoundly affect our understanding of the New Testament’s message.  And visiting some of the most important archaeological sites in Rome this semester will teach us much about the lives and beliefs of the early Christians.

tufa-block-building San Clemente church 1st centHere are a few quotes from the papers the students wrote after our site visit:

“From the art displayed within the twelfth century Basilica, to the underground archeological sites of an old Christian Church and Mithraic temple, the overall structure is a three-dimensional history lesson about theology and the expansion of Christianity throughout ten centuries.”  – Caroline Lockyer.

“By following the evidence in and underneath the church, one can obtain an understanding of the people and life of early Rome—mainly in this circumstance, what their beliefs were.  The basilica is a self-contained history book following Roman society’s beliefs tracing from 1st century till the 12th century C.E.”  – Beau Frank

right-aisle San Clemente 4th cent church

“The Basilica of San Clemente consists of three layers: the upper church, which was restored in the 18th century, the lower church from the 4th century, and the first-century buildings where a Mithraic temple exists.  Ascending from the 1st century buildings through the 4th century lower church, and finally to the upper church Jesus slowly reveals himself to us.” Camille Dottore

“What they found in the deepest layer of the basilica was a pagan temple, also known as mithraeum.The discovery of this temple shows the triumph of Christianity following Constantine.  Churches from then on would then be built upon these pagan temples and other holy sites.” Emileigh Gaeta

altar-of-mithras San Clemente church 1st cent

“Revelation… presents itself through the recovered artifacts discovered by archeologists and strengthens the faith of individuals by linking the truths of the New Testament.”  – Brynne Murphy

“Through the excavation of San Clemente, one can conclude that the discoveries and excavations of archaeologists have revolutionized and confirmed our understanding of God’s revelation in the New Testament.” Sarah Davis

alleyway San Clemente church 1st cent

Go Friars!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How can the study of archaeology help us to understand the New Testament?  This is the question we asked during our recent site visit to the Basilica of San Clemente. Our course on the New Testament in the Eternal City includes not only classroom lectures, but also on site visits to particular places in Rome that are […]MORE

Alumni PC Friars in Rome

Posted by: on February 17, 2014   |Comments (0)|Uncategorized

This week I was pleased to welcome the Rogers family to our PC/ CEA Theology and Religious Studies Center.  Michael (’76),  and Mary Ellen (’77), were in town to visit their son, Fr. Michael Rogers, S.J., a Jesuit priest who is studying here in Rome at the Gregorian University.  Their daughter, Mary Kate, who was also on the tour, was just accepted “early decision” to P.C., and will be a member of the class of 2018.  Talk about a “Friar family”!

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During their visit and tour of the Center, they were able to meet some of our students and the CEA Rome Team.  The students were encouraging Mary Kate to already start planning her semester abroad in Rome during her junior year.  Mary Kate hopes to study Marketing.  Her mother was a Social Work major and her father studied Business Management while at P.C.

 

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Mary Ellen is not only a proud alum of P.C., she is also a member of the College’s Board of Trustees and has served since 2007.  As a “good steward” of the College, Mary Ellen had many questions about our Rome program.  We discussed the study abroad experience in general and the College’s renewed commitment to international study opportunities for students.  I explained P.C.’s relationship to CEA and shared the good news that we have just signed another three year agreement with them.

When our conversation turned to academics, Mary Kate and her father Michael were interested in the New Testament in the Eternal City course and how we use the city of Rome itself as a “classroom” connecting lectures with site visits each week.

 

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Having a visit from a member of the Board of Trustees certainly helps to strengthen the connection between our Rome Program and the home campus.  Mary Ellen promised to fill in the rest of the Trustees about the success of the PC/CEA Center when she sees them later this Spring at their annual “Black and White” fundraiser.  She’s also hoping to give her impressions of the Rome Program and its direct link to the mission of the College at their next Board meeting in June.

 

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The warm visit and conversation with the Rogers family was a real boost to all of us who met them. And once again we were reminded how the PC in Rome experience flows naturally from the Catholic, Dominican mission of the College.  From Cunningham Square to the Piazza San Pietro!  Go Friars!

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This week I was pleased to welcome the Rogers family to our PC/ CEA Theology and Religious Studies Center.  Michael (’76),  and Mary Ellen (’77), were in town to visit their son, Fr. Michael Rogers, S.J., a Jesuit priest who is studying here in Rome at the Gregorian University.  Their daughter, Mary Kate, who was also on the […]MORE

“We honor…Linus, Cletus, Clement…”

Posted by: on January 23, 2014   |Comments (0)|Uncategorized

apse-mosaic San Clemente church 12th cent

Our course on the New Testament in the Eternal City includes not only classroom lectures, but also on site visits to particular places in Rome that are significant for Christian history, theology, and spirituality.  Our first site visit this semester was to the Church of San Clemente.  By tradition, St. Clement (92-101 AD) was a bishop in Rome who gave his life as a martyr for Christ. Fourth-century accounts speak of his forced labour in the mines during exile to the Crimea in the reign of the emperor Trajan (98-117 AD) and his missionary work there which prompted the Romans to bind him to an anchor and throw him into the Black Sea.  His relics were recovered and are under the main altar of the church.

According to the oldest list of Roman bishops, he was the third successor to St Peter in Rome (after Linus and Cletus). The First Eucharistic Prayer of the Mass, known as the “Roman Canon”, mentions St. Clement in the list of bishops and saints of Rome through whose merits and prayers the faithful seek help and protection.  The church in Rome dedicated to him is said to be built over a first century house which belonged to his family.

Interior-chapel San Clemente church 12th cent

The church of San Clemente is like a “layered cake” of archeological wonder.  The present basilica is from the 12th century, but underneath is a 5th century basilica and below that is a first century house, warehouse, and Mithraic temple.  These sites were excavated beginning in the 19th century under the guidance of an Irish Dominican priest, Fr. Mullooly, who was prior of San Clemente.  Indeed, the Irish Dominicans have been the custodians of San Clemente since the 17th century.  In this way, Providence College has a kind of “connection” with San Clemente since they are both Dominican institutions.  Our guide for the site visit was an American Dominican priest, Fr. Pius Pietrzyk, who is studying Canon Law here in Rome and is in residence at San Clemente.  Fr. Pius is an enthusiastic, polished, and entertaining tour guide of the treasures of San Clemente.  His remarks were full of fascinating information and inspiring reflections on the faith of the early Christians who made pilgrimage and worshipped at the basilica.  The students seemed to appreciate most his erudite knowledge of Christian iconography as he explained frescoes, mosaics, and paintings as well as the architecture of San Clemente.

Here are some quotes from the papers they wrote after our site visit:

“The three layers of the church of San Clemente represent distinct historical features  of Christianity as it evolved from the early third century to today in Rome.  These genuine artifacts demonstrate how religious belief in Rome has grown and changed, and contextualize the emergence and stories of Christianity with well-preserved art and architecture. Each layer represents what the central features of religion were at the time they were constructed.” Leanne Falzone

tufa-block-building San Clemente church 1st cent

“In the readings and the site visit to the Basilica of San Clemente we saw examples of God revealing himself on earth.  These examples are mainly in the Word of God and interpretations through pieces of art.  Through these stories we become more acclimated with God’s identity, character and call…  Through our reading, notes, and visit we get a strong understanding of the cultural and societal ways dating back to around the time of Jesus.”  Sam Scherer

“The Basilica of San Clemente and the New Testament tell us a story, both about the different time periods from which they come from and about the workings of Jesus and his disciples. The Basilica is composed of many different pieces from different time periods, while the New Testament has many authors who share the various events and teachings from Christ. Through the art of frescos and through writing both of these religious pieces demonstrate to us the stories of Jesus, and allow us to gain a better understanding of our faith and of the history that is behind it.” Brianna Fontaine right-aisle San Clemente 4th cent church

“The oldest known tabernacle-style altar is located in Saint Clement Basilica. Interestingly, it is decorated by an anchor. Taken in context, it references the tool used to drown St. Clement the martyr. This demonstrates the fact that ecclesial decorations are never meaningless. Statues, altars, and frescos tell important stories. Although they are wordless, depicted scenes are surely a way of portraying God’s words and deeds.” Maria McLaughlin  alleyway San Clemente church 1st cent

“St. Clements story is further depicted in the fresco… which… further explains his martyrdom… Analyzing these frescos helps Christians understand that St. Clement gave his life for the faith to show how strongly he believed in Jesus Christ… This further leads people to the faith because it proves that he was real and was not just a person from a story.  His actual relics are located under the altar of the basilica so it further shows the realness of the stories depicted in the frescos and New Testament.” Erin Mullane  the-miracle-of-the-black-sea San Clemente church

“Early Christians honored Saint Clement, our fourth pope, by dedicating the entire church to him. He died by having an anchor tied to his leg and was thrown into the Black Sea. There is an anchor on the baldacchino in San Clemente Church, signifying his martyrdom. The anchor is still used today to signify Christianity and is popular among young Christians as a trendy tattoo.” Sunness Jones  StClementMass San Clemente church

“In the Basilica of San Clemente the development of the paganism to Christianity is evident as one walks from the pagan temple to the 4th  century Basilica, to the 12th century Basilica. When examining the frescoes of the two basilicas, it is obvious that the New Testament teachings have had centuries to develop and come to fruition in the Western world. The frescoes are rich with stories of martyrs, saints, popes, and, of course, the passion of Jesus Christ. At this point in the 4th and later centuries, the Christians have established a more substantial footing in Rome and Christian theology has adopted its own approaches to good and evil, wisdom theology, and the end of time.” Brittany Ricci left-aisle San Clemente 4th cent church

“Some of these frescos I believe, were drawn to lead others to faith. They serve almost as propaganda, to persuade others to believe in God and all that he can do. One fresco in particular showed the importance of faith and the dedication that Saint Alexis had towards God. This saint devoted his life to God, and his story is depicted in a fresco that is in the San Clemente church.” Gianna Fournier the-legend-st-alexis San Clemente church

“Some churches still exist from the Roman Empire and reflect the Christian’s victory over the pagan religions.  One primary example is the Basilica of San Clemente, which was built on top of an ancient mithraeum, or an ancient temple of worship… This underground mithraeum had no windows to allow in light and had an altar with a depiction of Mithras’ conquest.  The fall of Mithraism led to the creation of a brand-new building for Christian worship… Eventually, the power of the word of the Christian God outlasted the Roman’s pagan religions.  Through the history of San Clemente, Christians can be reminded of the early Christian community’s progression.  The lower church of San Clemente provides evidence of the church’s success over pagan religions during the period of the Roman Empire.  It also represents the expansion of Christianity as the Roman Empire declined.” Sarah Wacik

altar-of-mithras San Clemente church 1st cent

” The fact that the lower church was built on top of the pagan temple is symbolic of the mission and values of Jesus Christ… the pagan temple and the church built directly on top are testaments to the changing theological mindset at the time. This transition was cemented in the creation of a new religious movement, embodied in Christ.” Lizeth Gonzalez the-mithraic-schoolroom San Clemente church 1st cent

“What seemed most powerful about this third layer, the upper church, was again symbolism and the representation of both the past, present, and future of faith. We saw this when examining the apse mosaic. In the center, Jesus is on the cross, surrounded by twelve doves representing the apostles. Father Pius explained the meaning of many other symbols in the mosaic; the cross, often called the tree, is omnipresent and reaching everywhere with the roots growing from the bottom; the peacocks stand for resurrection; the men and women doing everyday work remind followers of the importance of Jesus’ presence today, or in the present.” Sophia Bolt apse-mosaic San Clemente church 12th cent

“The Tree of Life goes throughout the apse because it shows how intertwined all life is and how it all relates back to God through his deed of creation. Directly above Jesus is the Dome of Heaven and the Hand of God. This iconography represents God’s revelation to Jesus, and therefore Revelation to mankind. It is only through the Hand of God that divine human nature and divine nature could be manifested. It is only through Jesus that mankind could become fully aware of the Creator and understand that creating a closer relationship to God was the most important part of life because the more love and faith that one showed in the Creator, the more he would reveal himself.” Mike Humphreys

“After exploring through the three levels of the basilica, I found that the central mosaic apse of the upper level was the most memorable aspect of the church for me. Not only was I captivated by its regal beauty and colorful mosaic art, but after hearing and reading about its significance to the basilica, I learned to appreciate this center piece of San Clemente even more. By having Jesus on the cross as the center of this twelfth century masterpiece surrounded by various symbols in a background of gold, one can conclude that Christians highly valued certain symbols to signify important aspects of their faith at the time.” Catherine McLean

“San Clemente’s mosaic is a prominent and iconic image connecting the images of the Church in the modern world to illustrated Paradise…the apostles are twelve sheep that face toward the Lamb of God. The tree of life is above the lambs and below the cross. The cross represents the wood of the tree and the tree represents Christ in the garden of eternity. The branches of the tree extend to the entire universe, and the fruit of the tree is the Eucharist. The vine springs from the foot of the cross with acanthus leaves, while the rivers of Paradise flow down from the cross. The deer yearn for running water, exemplifying the call of the human race. God wants us humans to have faith and create relationships with him. The deer yearning for running water can be translated as the souls of the faithful thirsting for the lord. The outside of this shows the present which represents the tree of life, connecting the eschatological past to the present and future with Christ in the center of it all.” Veronika Abkarian

Go Friars!

 

 

 

Our course on the New Testament in the Eternal City includes not only classroom lectures, but also on site visits to particular places in Rome that are significant for Christian history, theology, and spirituality.  Our first site visit this semester was to the Church of San Clemente.  By tradition, St. Clement (92-101 AD) was a […]MORE