At 10:25am local time on 18 January 2017, a magnitude 5.3 earthquake in central Italy struck 5km west of the town of Amatrice. 49 mins later at 11:14am a second earthquake occurred measuring 5.7 on the richter scale and then just 11 mins after that, at 11:25am, a third earthquake of magnitude 5.6 occurred.1
The Coliseum (or Colosseum) is in the news again today after it was invaded in the early hours of 16 January by drunk tourists!
Two Brazilian tourists managed to scale the fence surrounding the Coliseum before climbing a security gate.
Their final obstacle which is a 4 metre drop into the ancient amphitheatre however proved to be their undoing.
As the drunk pair made their daring break-in, they injured themselves when attempting to jump to distant ground below. One of the two fractured their pelvis and the Coliseum was once again witness to blood curdling cries for help.
Despite security forces being stationed at the Coliseum 24 hrs a day as part of anti-terrorism measures, they failed to detect the boisturous drunk intruders until they were inside the monument.
This intrusion comes after a number of other tourists had recently been arrested after damaging the Coliseum by carving their initials into the ancient stonework.
Fortunately, on this occasion the only damage suffered was to the bones of the two drunkards.
To visit the Coliseum through the main entrance (allbeit skipping the queues), take a look at our Coliseum & Ancient Rome Tour.
Do you want to travel around Rome but feel a bit nervous or unsure about how things work? If so, then this post will explain how to travel around Rome, the different options, prices, information, advice and helpful tips.
BOOM! The Holy Doors of Mercy have now closed, as has the Extraordinary Holy Year of Mercy which closed on the Solemnity of Christ the King, 20 November 2016.
Consequently, our Holy Doors Tour has now become our 4 Papal Basilicas of Rome Tour…
So now that the Holy Doors are shut, are the torrents of God’s Mercy sealed off too?
Short Answer – No.
Longer Answer – Not shut off but reverted.
God’s Mercy is infinite. Any sinner, regardless of religious belief or denomination, who humbly asks God to show them mercy with a contrite heart and with a firm purpose of amendment from their sins will receive the sweet Mercy of God and forgiveness of those sins by the merits of the Passion, Death & Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
a broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise
Psalm 51 v17
When the lance of the Roman soldier, Longinus, pierced Jesus’ side on the Cross, a torrent of mercy flooded into Christ’s Mystical Body – the Church – symbolised by the blood and water that flowed from His side.
As Christ’s mortal body hung dead, like a ripe fruit, on the tree of the Cross, we remember that the fruit of the tree of the garden of Eden brought death, but by consuming the fruit of this new tree of the Cross, we are brought back to life.
How Do We Consume This New Fruit of The Tree of Life
Christ communicates Himself to each of us in the Holy Word of Scripture and we consume him (and are consumed by Him) via the Sacraments of the Church.
It is by the sacraments that we access the eternal fountain and reservoir of mercy that flowed into the Church on the Cross.
By participating in these 7 sacraments, we become one flesh with Christ, married to him in the bond of the New Covenant instituted at the Last Supper, as our humanity mingles with His Divinity in Him.
Through His Blood, he washes away the stain of our Original Sin in the waters of Baptism and makes our souls whiter than snow (Psalm 51 v7). In Baptism, we become part of His Mystical Body 1 – the Catholic Church, by the power of the Holy Spirit (represented by an angel with a flaming sword in Genesis) and experience our own incarnation into Christ.
The sacraments of Confession and Holy Communion are the most prominent ways in which we experience & drink from the fountain of the Mercy of God.
However the Catholic Church, instituted by Jesus to sanctify all peoples and feed them with his grace (just as the apostles did as they fed the 5000 on Jesus’ behalf2), also brings people to drink from the fountain of Divine Mercy through indulgences.
Indulgences are tools the Church uses to foster actions, that when performed in union with Christ and His Church, nurture the young Christian to practice good habits, form virtue, and mature into a stronger altus Christus.
Now that the indulgences attached to the entering through the Holy Doors have ended, those who undertook the pilgrimage and entered through these doors, should have come to a greater understanding and experience of the Mercy of God and how this mercy is tied up with the role of the Church in the world.
Now is the time to reflect on the message & symbolism of the Holy Doors of Mercy.
To use the graces we have been nourished with and to return again and again to the Church to experience the sweet taste of God’s mercy again and again in the sacraments.
The shutting of the Holy Doors are not an end to the mercy of God in our lives, but rather a sweet foretaste – an invitation to a greater dining at the banquet table of the Lord in the Mass.
The closing of the Holy Doors of Mercy should spur us on to more frequent reception of the Sacraments, a closer unity and love with the Church and renewed hope & strength in Christ to journey on through the dry desert of this world, and to continue on with our pilgrimage to the promised land that is to come.
Just as we have received this sweet manna – the bread come down from heaven – in this last year, let us continue to receive Our Lord daily in the sweet bread of life in the Holy Eucharist at Mass.
“..my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven, and gives life to the world.” They said to him, “Lord, give us this bread always.”
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst.”
The closing of the Holy Doors are not a closing of the doors of mercy, but an invitation for us to fling wide the doors of our hearts to taste & drink the Divine Mercy more deeply in His Church.
Time is running out so be quick – the Holy Doors for the Jubilee Year of Mercy are closing !
You have until 13th November 2016 to enter the Holy Doors of the Basilica of S. Maria Maggiore, the Basilica of St John Lateran and the Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls, but until 20th November to enter through the Holy Doors of the Basilica of St Peter.
This is because the Holy Door of St Peter closes with the end of the Holy Jubilee Year of Mercy on the Solemnity of Christ the King on 20th November 2016.1
What is the Jubilee Year?
Padre Pio now known as St Pio of Pietreclena after his canonisation in 2014 by Pope John Paul II, was born Francesco Forgione May 25, 1887, to a devout Catholic family in Pietrelcina, Italy. At the age of 15, he joined the Capuchin Friars, and eventually became a priest with the order.
Throughout his life, Padre Pio was known as a mystic who experienced the stigmata for 50 years. Many miracles and wonders have been attributed to him, including reports of healing, soul-reading, levitation and even bi-location.
Tomorrow – 23rd September is his feast day. To commemorate and celebrate this event, devotees will celebrate an entire week of events & activities in Rome.
Gathering in the Parish of San Salvatore in Lauro close to Piazza Navona, which will serve as a hub of those wishing to celebrate his feast, groups have a whole host of activities planned. The parish will also be home numerous relics of Padre Pio, including his cloak, gloves, stole and blood from the wounds of the stigmata that marked his body for 50 years.
Celebrations will culminate on Padre Pio’s Sept. 23 feast with several Masses said throughout the day as well as a procession of a statue of the saint and his relics from San Salvatore to Piazza Navona, which will take place in the afternoon.
Rome is full of relics of the saints, but the greatest relics contained in Rome are those concerning the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Constantine’s mother, St Helena, brought these from Jerusalem to Rome in the 4th Century. Why not join our Passion of Christ Tour to experience them first hand as part of a pilgrimage to Rome.
The artist Caravaggio’s ‘Calling of St Matthew’ is a thought provoking work by this artistic master of light and darkness.
This painting can be found in the Contarelli Chapel of the Church of St Louis of France (San Luigi dei Francesi) just 2 minutes walk from the Pantheon and on our Caravaggio Tour. The other two paintings in the side chapel are entitled the Inspiration of St Matthew, and the Martyrdom of St Matthew. All three were painted by Caravaggio under the commission of the French Cardinal Matthieu Cointerel (Contarelli in Italian).
The Feast of St Matthew the Apostle is held on 21st September and thus in his honour we will look at Caravaggio’s focus on the conversion and calling of St Matthew as he presented it in his artistic masterpiece in 1599. Continue reading “Caravaggio’s Calling of St Matthew”
At this time of the Feast of the Divine Mercy in Rome during this Holy Jubilee Year of Mercy, the buzz word in Rome at the moment is MERCY.
We are immersed within a Holy Jubilee Year of Mercy with Pope Francis choosing the official reflection of “Merciful like the Father”.
We are also in the midst of Easter Week with the Feast of the Divine Mercy in Rome taking place on Sunday – Divine Mercy Sunday.
So what’s it all about, and will Rome be doing anything special as a result of this double whammy of mercy this week? Continue reading “The Divine Mercy in Rome”
Check out these 10 Amazing Pictures of Easter in Rome with Pope Francis 2016 including papal selfies and picturesque liturgy.
Rome is an amazing place to experience the end of Lent and beginning of Easter. There is so much history and tradition in Rome – the heart of the Church – that one cannot help but feel the past come to life in your own experiences. 10 Amazing Ways to experience Easter in Rome include: Continue reading “10 Amazing Ways to Experience Easter in Rome”