I have decided to take full advantage of Easter in Roma. I do not usually travel to la Bella città this time of the year. And, as with all my vacations, I generally don’t choose the dates for any other reason than “it’s been long enough without a break, pick some dates from the calendar”. Which is how I unintentionally ended up in Rome at Easter.
Initially – not going to lie – I was bummed to be in Rome with all these — gasp! — pilgrims. I pellegrini. And, of course, it is also spring break. It’s a bit crowded.
When in Rome.
I guess you could say I found myself living in a Jesus documentary. As my friends know, I love watching Christ documentaries — Frontline has some awesome ones. Using re-enactors, and a model of the temple. Here now, by attending masses at Eastertime in Rome – I’m having a more interactive experience.
Thursday night, I attended Maundy Thursday mass at the Venerable English College on Via Monserrato. A rather tony address for such a spiritual institution. Though it is called a college – it isn’t a university per se. It is a seminary. Started in the Reformation for young British men who followed their calling in that period, and practiced as priests. Thus, the presence in the English college of the Martyrs chapel – plus a wall inscribed with a long list of names of English men who, no doubt, were tortured on the way to their martyrdom.
Thursday marked that final dinner, the Last Supper — and just to show he was one of the guys – the washing of the feet. It was awesome to watch. Eight people already chosen – 4 seminarians, 4 just regular folks. Not picked on the spot. (of course I asked). More to make sure to spare their own embarrassment, they had the opportunity to wear their good socks.
Afterwards – one of the priests and I headed out for the visit of the 7 Tabernacles. Not a ritual I’d ever heard about, much less experienced. The Catholic Churches around the city deck out one of their chapels with fresh, fragrant flowers (mostly white, some red, lots of stunning long-stemmed white lilies). You walk in, do your genuflect (when in Rome…) then kneel, or sit, and reflect. It was an opportunity to see the inside of churches I had never seen. And spend some quality time in contemplation.
After six visits – we stopped for some refreshment (okay, a bottle of wine) and then realized we had waited too long. The churches were closed, and our ritual had become the Ritual of the 6 Tabernacles.
I thought I was going to hell.
Luckily (for both of us) we each found a 7th tabernacle to visit as we returned to our respective homes.
It was powerful. Today: way of the cross and crucifixion. No turning back, I’m committed now. Tomorrow, Easter Sunday – we shall be celebrating.
I guess this makes ME a pellegrino.