Prince of Peace
October 20th - 29th, 2004
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excerpted notes and memories from our tour...
my journal of our first full day in Italy.
"When we got up today (early!) the sisters had continental breakfast laid out for us in a room with long trestles and seating around the outside of the room. There was a large fresco of the Last Supper. Stone basins were built into the walls. It was a very impressive place to drink our tea and eat sweet bread and Nutella.
We rolled our luggage back through the gates of Todi and to the coach, pausing to watch a beautiful sunrise over the valley. We took the winding road to Orvieta. Again, the bus could not drive to the city center, so we walked half a mile or so. When we first caught sight of the cathedral, we were stunned. The sun caused the golden façade to gleam in an almost surrealistic way, compared to the earth-tone buildings of the town.
Fr. John said a private mass in a side chapel that frescoes depicting the miracle of Orvieto - the blood of Christ appearing on the host. The choir sounded wonderful in that space."
As you can tell, my journal is not great literature! But it does remind me of some of the wonderful things we saw and did.
"For the papal audience, there are chairs set up in half of St. Peter's Square, which is of course not a square at all. We each had a red ticket, but no one ever checked it as we all filed in. We did get passed through the metal detector. The choir was in its formal black and white, each with a scarf or tie in black & white music motif. Bob Armstrong had brought an American flag to tie to his walking stick. We could see groups from many different countries, some with banners and costumes.
When it was almost time for the pope to arrive, the cloudburst began. Up went the umbrellas and out came the ponchos. Some groups headed for the shelter of the Bernini colonnade, but our group stayed in place. Dan & I had one small umbrella, and Virginia Miller sitting next to me covered my shoulder with her cape. Otherwise I would be soaked with umbrella runoff!
The pope's vehicle went by very close to us. Dan ran over and got a closer look, and Tony Steinhardt told me later he got a great picture.
The ceremony was projected on Jumbotron-style screens, but we could see the
Pope himself when the rain stopped and the umbrellas came down. He was a very
small figure in white, surrounded by many figures in black."
The high point of my Italy trip was the audience with the Pope, plus our visits
to see all the most beautiful churches in the world. I thought the country side
was most beautiful. Italy has the mountains, & Madison has the hills. I
wouldn't mind living there, but I would have to order ham, cheese and Pepsi
from State Side.
Once again Larry, thanks for extending an Italy invitation to the rest of the Parish. Without you the trip would have never taken off the ground!
My funniest memory is getting a group rate to use the pay toilet in Orvieto,
although having the female tour director leaving John Dattilo speechless in
Florence comes a close second. The most spectacular architecture was the side
chapel we sang in at Saint Mary Major in Rome, where the marble statues all
seemed to be turned toward and staring at the congregation (although it's tough
to choose among so many glorious buildings).
My most moving experience was singing at Mass at Saint Peter's in Rome and filling that huge church where Jesus' right hand man is buried with beautiful music; it was gratifying to have a Dutch choir director come up afterward and ask Ben Schmidt for a copy of the music - he liked it so much he wanted it for his home parish.
My most unusual experience was having an Italian tenor come up to me after our joint concert in Florence and ask permission to do something with Becky Anderson; I wasn't really sure who he thought I was or what he wanted to do, but of course I gave him my permission.
Finally, my warmest memories are of spending time with old friends and meeting new friends and of that first meal together in Todi, where the wine and good spirits both flowed freely. Thanks to Larry Wickersham for everything he has done for our parish and our choir and thanks to my good friend Ben Schmidt, who didn't complain once about my snoring.
Until our next adventure together - ciao!
Our pilgrimage to Italy was a truly great experience. From the smallest chapel
in the Saint Francis Bascilica in Assisi to the largest basilica at Saint Peter's
in Rome, I felt a sense of unity with Catholics everywhere as we celebrated
Mass each day.
The highlight for me was the mass in Saint Pedter's. Playing the organ and the choir singing was an unbelievable feeling. Sharing the experience with so many parish members was another special part of the trip. I am very thankful for all those who made the trip possible.
This trip will always remain special. Being able to join your church choir made it an even more enjoyable. But one of the highlights for me was watching Larry play on the various organs. Music really does something for the soul.
I found Assisi to be most surprising based on what I was expecting. I had
no idea it would be such a quaint and wonderful little town. The day we visited
Assisi began by being very foggy. Father John had a very moving Mass for us
in a stone hewn chapel found underground. It was very intimate for a group.
Then we had free time to explore the town. It was extremely clean with lots
of interesting shops, beautiful plants and flowers, and more churches to explore
besides the huge church of St. Francis. It was such a joy climbing the hills
of Assisi to find two more great churches at the top. By the time we had to
head back to the bus, the fog was clearing so we could enjoy the spectacular
view of the Italian countryside. It reminded us all of how great God's creation
is! Just like nature's beauty, God is always there for us, but sometimes we
forget that because of the fog in our lives!
The day we had free time in Rome was a day that I will never forget. A group
of us took off to explore Ancient Rome. We toured the Coliseum and were able
to go inside. To stand and look down upon the floor and the chambers below caused
me to reflect on the things that happened there. To think what took place in
this place in the name of entertainment was humbling. We then ventured to the
Forum and Palentine Hill. Being in the center of all the social and political
happenings of Ancient Rome was a wonderful experience. The whole trip allowed
me to reflect on the history and the development of the Catholic faith and how
it has grown over the centuries.
Memories of the Rome trip:
The trip included so many wonderful experiences but a few stand out for me
The main memory really includes several occasions, the Masses in the various churches.
The one I consider the most memorable was the "regular evening Mass" that we sang in St. Peter's. I kept thinking of all the big celebrations that have been held there and still, each evening, people gather in the back of the altar for their daily connection with God, and we were part of it.
The Mass in the little chapel at Assisi was just the opposite in regard to grandeur. Here we sat on benches made of logs in the tiny hidden chapel, but still we were singing praises to our God.
The Mass in the Basilica of St. Mary Major was also special for me because it was in the Chapel that contains the ancient Icon of Our Blessed Mother...one of my favorites.
Another special time for me was the time Sr. Alice Marie and I sat in the Baptistry of the Cathedral in Florence and just looked at the ceiling. It 's the Bible in pictures and I thought of all the artists who worked on it and the people who have learned about their God in that very place. Of course, seeing the tomb of Michelangelo in the Cathedral was also a time to remember the love he showed in all of his magnificent artwork.
We saw so much and did so much! I am looking forward to taking more time to look at my pictures and post cards and re-live it all over and over.
Sr. Phyllis Gronotte
My best memories' of the Prince of Peace Pilgrimage to Italy -
It is hard to say what impressed me the most in this awesome experience. I have many great memories that I will be able to recall often and share with many for years to come. Just the fact that 65 of us were so "close together" in a bus for so many hours and didn't have any problems, except for the "bug" that was being passed around, is a wonder in itself. Instead, we got to know one another better, grew closer as a group as the days and miles passed, and at the end, I feel we had made many new friends, and those we had know before were even dearer than before and with a lasting bond.
Daily Mass at the different churches, each special in its own way, was one highlight of day. However, singing at St. Peter' basilica was a marvel beyond words. It is still hard to believe we did it!!!. To think, that our choir, from far away Madison, sang at a Mass in such a famous and important church! A church that I think of as THE church of our faith, and there we were!... Because the lights were on for awhile after this Mass, I was able to get a good look at the statue of St. Benedict, the 5th century founder our my community.
The Tuscany scenery; the medieval town of Todi; the ornate city of Ovierto; the well known, from past history studies, town of Pisa; the famous city of culture, Florence; the very loved town of Assisi; and just how do you describe ROME!!!, each and every one had its own treasures to lend to us and awe over for the time we had to discover that they had to offer.
One hears so often about the papal audiences, but being there in the presence of the Pope, experiencing my excitement, as well as the excitement of our group and the crowd, and seeing all of our reactions as he came into our midst, letting us be close to him as he rode around in his pope mobile, greeting us and giving us a message, in our own language and finally receiving his blessing was a very grace filled moment. Despite the rain and being wet and cold, our spirits were not dampened, and then sharing with those around us the song "Rain Down, Rain Down God's Love", which was so appropriate for that moment, was an added delight, did the Pope hear us??
Yes, it was an awesome experience for which I am deeply grateful. I thank
God often for His many blessings and being a part of this Pilgrimage is just
one of His gifts. I am also grateful to Larry, our guide, bus driver and the
many others who made plans and/or the many other things behind the scenes that
made this all possible. I feel we were all blessed and will be reaping from
this experience for many years to come.
Sr. Alice Marie
AN EMOTIONAL TRIP THROUGH ITALY
(Larry asked us to record our thoughts, feelings, and memories of the pilgrimage
to Italy. Well, I've thought about the trip
often, and here are some of my feelings and the memories that evoked those emotions.)
Inspired-by Father John's daily masses in such incredibly ornate surroundings.
Blessed-for being able to make the pilgrimage.
Affection-for the 65 parishioners who became more like family than just friends.
Disappointed-at leaving beautiful, quaint Todi just at daybreak.
Wistful-for not purchasing a piece of handpainted pottery at Orvieto or a carved statue of St. Francis.
Fascinated-at the leaning tower of Pisa.
Captivated-by the narrow, hilly streetscenes in Todi, Orvieto, and Assisi.
Charmed-by the patience of Dario and Guiseppe.
Excitement-at performing with the Italian choir at San Felice a Ema
Reverence-as we sang "Hail Mary" at Nostra Signora del Sacro Cuore.
Peace-as we sang "Make me a Channel" at Basilica di St. Francesco.
Sorrowful-as pickpockets struck one of our members in Florence.
Shock-at the way the Italians drive.
Passion-for Italian gelato.
Delighted-at the nightly Baci bonbon at our Jolly Midas bedside.
Exhilarated-upon seeing the white-robed Pope waving to us in a pouring rain.
Joy-at touring ancient Rome and seeing the Coliseum, Forum, Arch of Constantine,
Awe-at seeing Michelangelo's David, the Pieta, and Cristo con la Croce.
Enthralled-with the private viewing of the amazing Sistine Chapel.
Nervous-about singing at St. Peter's Basilica and at San Felice.
Wonder-at the size of St. Peter's.
Pride-at the Latin Mass at St. Peter's when a man from Belgium asked for a
copy of our music
to take back to his choir.
Patriotic-when foreign students cheered America at the farewell dinner at Papa Rex.
Pleasure-at throwing my coin in the Fountain of Trevi.
Fatique-after a 10 hour plane flight.
Thankful-for Larry who made this whole journey possible and for the amazing resilience of our choir who sang from the heart, and for our family of fellow travelers who cheered us and encouraged us.
On our way to airport it never dawned on me that today was the day we would be boarding the plane. I will admit it, I was nervous; I've never been on an airplane before. I never have been out of the country and was a little worried. What was it going to be like over there, I thought.
My dad took us to the airport and helped us with our luggage. We had gotten through all the checks but one. It was the metal detectors and if you didn't have a plane ticket then you couldn't go any further and so we had to say good-bye. WOW! I started to cry, I never had been anywhere without my dad and boy was that tough! Yeah I have to admit, I am daddy's little girl and from then on it clicked. I was going to miss him tons!
We boarded the plane and took off. Luckily, I had brought extra food because I am a very picky eater and man was that food nasty on the plane. I listened to music and watched the movies and tried to fall asleep. I must have been really excited because I didn't sleep at all. When we finally landed in Rome, I was VERY glad to be able to stretch my legs.
I loved everywhere we went and Dario was the best tour guide! I never thought we could have taken that many pictures but, we sure did! I met a lot of new people on this trip and learned a little about everyone. I am very glad I went on this trip and I didn't mind missing school for this once and a life time trip that I will never forget. Even though there weren't many cute guys in Italy, I managed to survive!
OH! I almost forgot, when I returned I was so excited to see my Father. NO MORE PASTA!
Thanks for GREAT TRIP! Had tons of fun.
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