Sunday, March 21, 2010

Marathon Day 3:54:31

This morning Vincenzo's trainers (sneakers) made a path to the door to give him encouragement as he left the apartment for the Rome Marathon, a 42.195 km course through the streets of the Eternal City.

Here he is warming up near the Arch of Constantine.

This was his waiting area for the start of the race. (He is about six people to the left from the blue & white "asics" banner. He is actually behind the yellow & green sign held by another runner, so we can't see him.)

We followed his course and cheered him on near the Temple of Hercules, the Ara Pacis (housed in a building designed by Richard Meier), and on the Via del Corso near the Spanish Steps.

Here he is, in the red shirt, just after passing the Ara Pacis.

This is the happy runner after finishing the marathon.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Rome Marathon: Preparation

On Thursday we went to the Palazzo dei Congressi in EUR to pick up Vincenzo's race materials for Sunday's Rome Marathon.
The entry into the Marathon Village

Picking up the race materials for runner 12505.

This is the official gear bag

We are in Rome, so of course there is a Mass for the athletes.
The celebrant is chatting with some of the athletes after the Mass.

By coincidence, Sunday's second lesson is about running a race!
Brothers, I do not reckon myself as having taken hold of it; I can only say that forgetting all that lies behind me, and straining forward to what lies in front, I am racing towards the finishing-point to win the prize of God's heavenly call in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13-14)

After Mass we had the pre-marathon pasta dinner.

The runners will go over many sanpietrini (cobblestones) during the course of the Rome Marathon.
Here I am with Pietrino,
a walking cobblestone and the race mascot.
Vincenzo's name and number appear on the screen. There is a chip attached to the race number bib that will transmit and record data when it passes checkpoints, including the start and finish.
Vincenzo leaving the Palazzo dei Congressi
and ready for the race on Sunday!

Here are some pictures showing details of this great building designed by Adalberto Libera as part of the 1942 Universal Exposition of Rome (EUR) that never happened. The project was started in 1938 and not actually completed until 1954.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Santa Francesca Romana

The Via del Teatro Marcello near the Capitoline Hill
has two doors that used to be a mystery to me.
A couple years ago I featured this door with a fresco on my Advent blog. Several days ago an anonymous person commented on the posting and told me that the door would be open to visitors on March 9th, the feast of Santa Francesca Romana. This is the door to Tor de’ Specchi, the "old" monastery and the family home of Francesca.
In one room of the "old" monastery there are some monochrome frescoes of “demons” that Francesca (Frances) encountered in her life. She was gifted with the vision of her “guardian angel” who is present in each of the panels.

Frances was born into a wealthy Roman family in 1834. When she was 11 years old she wanted to be a nun, but her family arranged a marriage for her to Lorenzo Ponziani, the commander of the papal troops. They were married when Frances was 12 and had six children. Lorenzo was often away at war, and Frances encouraged other wealthy women to join her in caring for the poor and sick. She turned the family home into a hospital. Her own husband returned from one war and Frances cared for him until he died in 1436. Frances died three years later in 1440. She was canonized in 1608.

Frances organized the women committed to her work into the Oblates of Mary, which continues today under the name of the Oblates of Francesca Romana. The Tor de’ Specchi remains the only house of the order, and the oblates continue a ministry to the poor and to young people.
This door to the “new” monastery (17th century) opens to frescoed rooms that lead to a courtyard.
From the courtyard you go up two flights of steps to the chapel.

The chapel was built in 1601. The fresco in the apse is of the Archangel Michael.
The stunning ceiling has a carved image of Francesca Romana in the center, with her ever-present guardian angel.
In 1925 Pope Pius XI declared Francesca Romana the patron saint of automobile drivers because of a legend that an angel used to light the road in front of her with a lantern when she travelled, keeping her safe from hazards.


This poster is announcing rallys during a general strike day scheduled for this Friday. What will that mean for me? It depends on which unions decide to participate in the strike.

If the busses go on strike that would mean no bus service form 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. I usually take the bus to school before that time. So getting to work for me will be fine.

If the teacher's unions go on strike the public school across from our school will be empty. (Well, almost empty. The nursery division will still be open.)

If the trains go on strike it will affect people from our church going to Orvieto for a retreat weekend. Most trains will not operate from noon to 6:00 pm. But, maybe the Orvieto trains will still be running. One never knows. (We are driving in the car, so we will not be affected.)

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Lenten Journey Week 3: Palatino

The Palatine Hill is the centermost of the Seven Hills of Rome and is one of the most ancient parts of the city. It is between the Roman and the Circus Maximus. (It is the origin of the word "palace".) According to Roman mythology, the Palatine Hill was the location of the cave where Romulus and Remus were found by the she-wolf. During the Roman Republic many wealthy Romans had their residences there. During the Empire (27 BC – 476 AD) it was home to several emperors, including Augustus, Tiberius and Domition.

Santa Anastasia: In the late 3rd or early 4th century a church was built on the Palatine Hill. It was one of the first parish churches of ancient Rome, given by a woman called Anastasia and later dedicated to a martyr of the same name. Parts of the 4th century church, as well as parts from the rebuilding in the 6th century, are preserved. It was the official church of representatives of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) empire who resided on the Palatine.
Santa Anastasia was restored several times over the centuries. The present church is the result of 17th and 18th century rebuilding.
The current façade dates from the 17th century and is the work of L. Arrigucci, a student of Gian Lorenzo Bernini. The previous façade was destroyed by a whirlwind in 1638. Underneath the church are the ruins of an ancient portico from the 1st century AD, as well as ruins of a group of insulae (multi-storied dwellings), that provided shops and services for the nearby Circus Maximus.
When I was a child, this Basilica of Santa Anastasia was the titular church of our archbishop, James Francis Cardinal McIntyre of Los Angeles. The first titular priest of the church was St Jerome who died in 420. (He was never actually a cardinal; he was given the title posthumously in the 13th century, and assigned to this church because of the tradition that he celebrated Mass here.) The present titular priest is Godfried Daneels, Archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels, who was appointed in 1983.
The nave uses ancient columns that were in the earlier church buildings on the site.
The ceiling is frescoed with a martyrdom of the saints (1722) by Michelangelo Cerruti.
Beneath the high altar is a statue of St Anastasia by Ercole Ferrata, in a style of Bernini.
The church has perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in a side chapel, and is therefore open 24 hours a day.

The Gospel for the 3rd Sunday in Lent recounts the parable of the fig tree. The owner of an orchard is ready to cut down a fig tree that is not producing fruit. The gardner replies: "Sir, leave it for this year also, and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it. It may bear fruit in the future." For nearly 2,000 years this site has been a place of prayer. And today, people are praying here 24 hours a day. It was interesting to look at the organizational calendar for this round-the-clock prayer vigil. There are at least two people all of the time. I wish that my life could be better organized. There are many wasted moments during each day. May I "cultivate and fertilize" my days (and prune away the unnecessary activities) so that my life may produce better "fruit."

Almighty God, you know that we have no power in ourselves
to help ourselves: Keep us both outwardly in our bodies and
inwardly in our souls, that we may be defended from all
adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil
thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus
Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy
Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
From The Book of Common Prayer

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

House Blessing

On Tuesday I saw a notice on the front door of our condominium building announcing when the priest from the local parish would be here to bless our apartments. All of the houses in our neighborhood are blessed during Lent.
The apartment bell rang at 6:15 and the priest entered, vested in a white stole. After introducing himself, he went into the living room and recited a couple prayers before sprinkling the Holy Water. Before he left he asked about where I went to church. When I mentioned that I was American he told me that he is Polish. (Last year the priest was from India.)