Fr. Bloomfield's Blog

I am a Roman Catholic Priest of the Archdiocese of Detroit, currently assigned to Divine Child Parish in Dearborn, Michigan. When I manage to keep the page updated, hopefully something interesting can be found here!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Faith Seeking Understanding for November 12, 2006

Last week’s article detailed the first half of our pilgrimage; this week, I’ll describe the many graces we received upon our arrival in Rome. Even though the drive back from San Giovanni Rotondo was long, we had an ambitious schedule for our first day in Rome: Mass in one of the crypt chapels of St. Peter’s Basilica, followed by a visit to the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel. After a very brief tour of St. Peter’s and a quick lunch, it was time for the “Scavi” tour.

“Scavi” means “excavations” in Italian; these particular excavations were begun in the 1940s when an ancient cemetery was discovered underneath St. Peter’s Basilica. Even though tradition had always said that St. Peter’s tomb lay directly beneath the high altar, no one had attempted to find the tomb. After extensive digging and many significant discoveries, the team reached the area of St. Peter’s tomb. Many experts were involved, including an expert in ancient graffiti, to decipher the writings on the uncovered monuments.

Amazingly enough, St. Peter’s tomb was found, along with bone fragments of one man, of robust build, from 70 – 80 years old. This matches our description of St. Peter – a fisherman who served the Church as the first pope until around 67 A.D., when tradition says he was crucified upside-down by the emperor Nero. The Scavi tour was a very moving and powerful experience for all of us.

That evening, I had the unexpected good fortune of meeting many of my friends who live in Rome for dinner; God’s providence provided for our busy schedule!The next day, we celebrated Mass at St. Paul’s, visited the catacombs, and several other noteworthy churches.

We had to rise early on Wednesday, to be in line for the Papal Audience (so we could have the best seats). Despite some exuberant late-arriving pilgrims from other countries, we managed to secure our places to have a magnificent view of Pope Benedict XVI as he rode by on his “Popemobile”. He gave a moving talk about the life and importance of St. Paul. Afterwards, some of us spent a wonderful evening attempting to conquer a seemingly endless banquet of Roman cuisine at my favorite local “Hostaria”.

Thursday was our last day in Rome, so we made the most of it by celebrating Mass at Santa Maria Maggiore, the oldest Church (in the West) dedicated to our Lady. Beneath the high altar is a reliquary containing the manger in which Christ was placed on the first Christmas. We enjoyed a wonderful “Arrivederci Roma” dinner at Piazza Navona, and then packed for our flight home. Thank you so much for your prayers while we were gone; we kept your petitions with us for the entire time.

For those interested, I am planning a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in March. Steve Ray will give a presentation on our trip at St. John Neumann on November 28, at 7:00 pm. Have a blessed week!