Hello from Rome!

Greetings and salutations!  My travelling companions and I have arrived in Rome safe and sound, and spent most of the day wandering around Vatican City.  We saw St. Peter's and the church of the Holy Spirit, found the residence and classroom building that Christendom will use, and generally had a wonderful (though utterly exhausting) time.

The Roman taxi ride was...interesting, with Italian opera music blasting as we careened around Fiats and Mercedes at (occasionally) 200 km/hour.  No worries though, we made our way to Casa Paulo VI with no difficulties besides a bit of traffic.  The hotel is a wonderful little place, run by the Little Sisters of the Holy Family, who luckily have a nice English-speaking employee.  Our rooms are very clean and neat, though small and simple.  It's right across from the Vatican Walls!  The rest of our day was spent circumnavigating Vatican City, successfully wearing ourselves out and (hopefully) conquering jet lag.

Entering the Eternal City generated a number of first impressions.  The first was how warm it is here!  Having left zero degree weather and piles of snow, it is very strange to see bright green grass and spring flowers and feel the warm sunlight.  There's still definite need for a jacket, and the wind does get cold when the sun goes down. We even ate our first Italian pizza outside, at a little table in the sun next to the Vatican.

The other thing that struck me most was the feeling of how old this city is.  The buildings, the churches, everything, is just so much older than America.  The city is built over and around and under itself, creating a crazy-quilt of buildings.  The Vatican Walls themselves are mossy, time-darkened bricks above worn cobblestone streets.  In the floor of St. Peter's, the marble is worn by time, with funny little hollows and rises where the softer stone has worn away leaving the harder areas.

St. Peter's, the heart of Rome and the heart of the Church - and what a heart!  I teared up as soon as I entered the basilica, as I was overwhelmed by the feeling of continuity and sacred pilgrimage.  I can't do justice to the complexity and intricate, stunning art that covers the walls and ceilings.  My favorite part is a toss-up between the Blessed Sacrament chapel (no cameras allowed, thank heavens) and Michaelangelo's Pieta.  I prayed for you there, Mommy.

Postcards will be sent as soon as I have anything resembling leisure.  In the mean time, buona sera from Rome!  I look forward to more adventures in the weeks to come.