It’s appropriate that our last week of our nearly five-month honeymoon would be spent in one of the most romantic cities in the world – Rome.
All we’ve learned about history in the past year of traveling culminates here.
We started in the Spanish empire of the Americas, learning where the Catholic crowns of Europe reaped their riches, and at what cost.
Across Europe, we saw how the modern age came out of World War II, how disaffection with the wealth of the Romantic era under the Hapsburg empire led to populism and fascism.
Prior to that, warlords fighting over territory across the continent. Convenient burial of the Muslim influence held by the Ottoman Empire in the east.
The ruins of Greece, and the ruins of Rome.
Our weekend here, we covered 25 miles on foot, heading for the Vatican museum. We went to the standard piazzas, such as the Piazza Navona.
On Sunday we cut through a park to get to the ancient Appian way, only to stumble upon an ancient aqueduct.
We walked through the Palatine Hill to the Forum. And of course, we visited the Colosseum.
During the course of the week, we visited all the city’s main pilgrimage sites, including the major basilicas.
We returned to the Vatican to visit St. Peter’s Basilica and its dome, and to get an audience with the Pope.
All his blessings extend to you, too.
He offered a brief teaching on hope, which we really need at this point in history. Cardinals across the Catholic world translated his message, and sometimes after a blessing a contingent stood up to offer the Pope some music. Germans in lederhosen played horns and tubas. After the Spanish translation, violinists and singers played a brief piece. In the front was a group from Mexico, with violins, guitars, cowboy hats and huge feathered headdresses. But once they started up their song following the Spaniards, a Portuguese cardinal abruptly went into his translation. I felt so bad for that Mexican band – they practiced so much and came so far to play a song for the Pope, and they didn’t get a chance. But at the end of the angelus, they started their playing, and the whole auditorium took up singing, “ay ay ay ay, canta y no llores” so the Pope heard their song after all.
I can’t express how delightful this year has been. It came after a number of really tough years for me and although I’m honored to have the Pope’s blessing, I know how unutterably blessed I’ve been for years, which has only been growing after marrying my darling husband and starting our marriage with an amazing adventure.
Our travels are done for now, and new adventures await at home – hopefully at the end of the hard work we face ahead, there will be even greater blessings.