Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Last but not least, some inspiring words

If you are seeking the light Benedict,
why do you choose the dark grotto?
The grotto does not offer the light you are seeking.
But continue in the darkness to seek the shining light.
Because only on a dark night do the stars shine.
Love this quote. I read it during my Subiaco adventures and knew I had to share it with everyone. That's all for now. Plenty more tales from Rome to come so visit this blog again soon!

A few random photos I've yet to share

Yes, another water fountain. This one was most appreciated on our day in Subiaco. 
Wendy with two terrific boys from the USA who were here for 12 months volunteering in the bookshop and providing guided tours. They were very helpful.
One more monastery shot. It really is a magnificent structure.

One very exhausting Tuesday

It was one painful trek.
Our (Mark, Wendy and I) journey to the Monastery of St Benedict in Subiaco took two hours on trains and buses then a 45min walk up hill. 
But it was the last 100m that was the most painful – it was an extraordinary cobblestone path that had an incline that made the legs hurt so much you almost felt you could not take one more step.
It occurred to me this is what life is like.
I needed to look at the tiny flowers along the way, take in their simple beauty and be strengthened by them.
Although the going was tough, I found the Lord in the little things.
One of the frescoes.
Entering the small upper church was mind blowing. 
The colours and detail of the magnificent frescoes depicting the lives of St Benedict and St Scholastica were beautiful – all I could utter for 10 mins was WOW.
On the journey up the mountain we passed by Nero’s summer villa. It was in ruins. After Benedict’s following grew, he turned it into his first monastery. The marble from that villa has been used extensively in the Monastery of San Speco (the Holy Cave). The area reminded me very much of the Benedictine Monastery at Jamberoo.

Subiaco and St Scholastica's Monastery

Then we went down to the Cave of St Benedict. 
The whole place was blessed with a sacredness that made you feel you could only speak in whispers.  
It was set on the side of a hill, among a magnificent forest, with a river below which added to the tranquillity of the place.  
We had 3 hours of just being still and waiting, as the monastery closes from 12.30pm-3pm. We barely spoke above a whisper and the atmosphere was full of awe.  
We attended Vespers and Mass with the local villagers of Subiaco at the basilica of St Andrew, before finishing up at a local pizzeria.

We were VERY tired by the end of it, but had a wonderful day.

Some of the pilgrims' thoughts so far

Anne Marie Steinke from Cootamundra said her time in Rome has been a challenge; a little scary and exciting. She has been amazed by the wisdom and teachings which our guides and spiritual director are imparting to us.
Caitlin Nye from Goulburn loved the Sistine Chapel, in particular the ‘Last Judgment’ by Michelangelo, and listening to our Vatican Guide Danielli as he imparted a mine of information. I personally was envious of his black leather Gucci bag.
One of the senior members of our group Ella Stack, and sister-in-law Eileen, said they felt they were among Rome’s most privileged pilgrims with the canonisation preparation gradually growing.

Stories from Monday...

Mark and Fr Richard.
As you saw in my queue photo published earlier, the influx of pilgrims meant we spent many hours on Monday just standing in line. Mark Oakley from Bega said that it was the longest queue for the Vatican Museum in “known history”. The rain gave us an extra challenge for the day but Mark felt it was a magnificent day of spiritual, artistic, architectural brilliance. We are all thrilled and honoured to be here – rain, hail or shine.

Bascilica side chapel.

As Colin Groves knelt before the Blessed Sacrament in the side chapel of the Basilica, the stark contrast between the magnificence of the building structure and the simple piece of white bread – the Body of Christ – was an extraordinary mystery to behold. Archbishop Mark explained that the Basilica of St Peter, which in fact is the tomb of St Peter, in all its grandeur, is the memorial to the act of his martyrdom.

In the evening we had the fun part of the day at a pizzeria. We dined well and the food was accompanied by Spanish music to top off an exhausting but exhilarating day.

Time to play catch up

The internet seems to have recovered enough that I can now finally share stories from the last two days properly. I'll have a few posts up shortly with all the details from our Vatican Museum tour and Subiaco trip - with more photos of course! That way you'll be all up to date and ready for our Wednesday adventures.

The Benedictine Monastery

I'll give you details of our exciting day soon. In the meantime, here's a few photos from our journey to Subiaco:

The beautiful Benedictine monastery in Subiaco, nestled into the mountainside.
The artwork was particularly striking.