Non est in toto sanctior Orbe locus ~ No place in the world is holier than this
Friday!! Friday the 17th! According to local Romans, Friday the 17th to Italians is like Friday the 13th to Americans. Unfortunately, I feel like we learned that the hard way. Giuliangela, Alexandra, Christine, and I got up early and headed off towards the Vatican in hopes of going to the Vatican Museum and seeing the Sistine Chapel. Apparently, God had other plans in mind for us. First of all, I need to explain something about the public transportation in Rome, specifically the bus system. Everybody buys one or two tickets for the bus at the beginning of the semester with no intention of validating their ticket (making your ticket good for an hour and a half) with the knowledge that no one on our program has been asked to show their validated ticket to anyone. Unfortunately, it is not always best to be first. I’ve learned that it is just our luck to be the ones who are caught on the way to the Vatican without validated tickets and forced to pay a fifty euro fine! And then to top things off, the Sistine Chapel will of course be closed already when we finally arrive at the Vatican. Oh Mio Dio! As Aldous Huxley said, “Experience is not what happens to a man; it is what a man does with what happens to him.” So, what do girls do when they are tired, hungry, lacking fifty euro, and without the Sistine Chapel? They go to Paschucci’s to grab a bite to eat, throw salt over their shoulders, and hope that everything happens for a reason.
Since we were up and ready to do some serious site-seeing, Giuliangela took us to St. John Lateran Basilica. It is the Mother Church and the Cathedral of the Pope. On the front there is an inscription that reads, “Sacrosancta Lateranenis ecclesia omnuium Urbis et Orbis ecclesiarum mater et caput.” Obviously, this reminds all of us that the Lateran is the foremost of all churches in Rome and on Earth. Personally, I think that it is sooo BEAUTIFUL and sooo AMAZING!! It might be the most spectacular Basilica. There is definetely a plethora of history from artwork to tombs to tradition. There is no doubt that the presence of God is alive in spirit there.
As if we didn’t already feel spiritually satisfied after spending time in the amazing Basilica of St. John Lateran, we decided to visit the Holy Staircase. Wow!! I understand why pilgrims from all over the world come here. Apparently, the Holy Staircase is the marble steps that Jesus climbed on his way to trial on the day of his Passion. The Scala Pilati are said to be stained with the blood of Christ and brought from Jerusalem to Rome by Constantine’s mother. There are 28 stairs to climb. You are supposed to kneel down and say a pray, give a confession, and ask for blessings for the Pope and the Church at every step and only climbing on your knees to the top. At the top of the Holy Staircase is the old papal Chapel which contains several relics. There is an inscription that reads, “Non est in toto sanctior Orbe locus, ” which means no place in the world is holier than this. It was a really amazing experience to climb to the top of the stairs while praying and confessing the whole way up. At the top, Giuliangela, Christine, Alexandra, and I said prayers together. I have had some really spiritual moments since I’ve been in Rome, but I really think that this was the most spiritual experience of my life.
After a truely dramatic and emotional day, we went out to dinner with our new Swiss Guard friends/boyfriends before getting on the night train to Torino!! What a day!