Saturday, April 24, 2010

Swimming at the Vatican...almost

A few months ago I started swimming in the pool of the Pontifical Oratorio San Paolo. It is connected to the Patriarcal Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls, and is an extraterritorial zone of the Holy See. That means it is technically not Italy, but part of Vatican City, under the jurisdiction of the pope. The facility was built during the pontificate of Paul VI. (Rumor has it that Swiss Guards swim in the pool on Sunday afternoons.)
This is my swim suit. As you can see, it is "Italian Style," with not much more fabric than my swim cap!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Happy Birthday Rome - student celebration

Today Grade 5 joined with Grade 1 for a birthday party to celebrate the founding of the city of Rome. (Both grades just completed a unit of inquiry based on Ancient Rome.) We made paper laurel crowns for party hats, and "reclined" on the floor to enjoy typical Roman treats of bread, apples and grapes.

First graders made an altar dedicated to Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva, the three gods who had their temple on the Capitoline Hill above the ancient Forum. On top of the altar were gifts to the gods, celebrating the founding of Rome on April 21, 753 BC.

Today was also the 11th birthday of Edda in my class. Her dad brought a cake to school for Edda to share with her classmates. The baker wrote on the top that it was for Rome and Edda!

Happy Birthday Rome - Ancient Roman style

On my way home this afternoon, as I approached the Temple dedicated to Hercules, often confused as a Temple of Vesta, I saw people getting ready for a Roman re-enactment. I got off the bus and witnessed the ritual of the Palilie. In ancient Rome, on April 21, the anniversary of the founding of Rome, there was a festival to honor the farming dieties who protected the flocks and herds.

The day began with women going to the house of the Vestal Virgins to receive elements to purify their houses and barns. The priestesses prepared fumigations with the ashes of a calf fetus, mixed with the stems of broad beans (considered an important ingredient of purification), and the blood of the horse sacrificed to Mars on the Ides of October.

Above: Patrician women go to the Vestal Virgins.
Below: The women purify their homes.

Above: A commoner goes to the Vestal Virgins
for the necessary ingredients to purify her house and barn.

After performing the required ritual at home,
this woman led her neighbors in a dancing festival.

SPQR: Tattoo

This afternoon I saw an arm with a SPQR tattoo. It was on a man who was part of the ritual re-enactment at the Temple of Hercules in honor of the 2,763rd anniversary of the founding of Rome.
SPQR are the first letters of the words in the Latin phrase Senatus Populusque Romanus, "The Senate and the People of Rome." It originally referred to the government of the ancient Roman Republic, and used as an official signature of the government, appearing on coins, civic inscriptions, and on the standards of the Roman legions. Today, SPQR is the motto of the city of Rome and appears in the city's coat of arms, the city's civic buildings, manhole covers, billboards and even as tattoos!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

I'm Back on the BLOG

It has been a month since I have made a posting. My last entry was for the Rome Marathon. Today we confirmed our accommodations to go to the Athens Marathon on October 31. (It will be the 2,500th anniversary of the original run from Marathon to Athens!)

The past four weeks have kept me very busy.

I led my students on a field trip to Mt. Vesuvius, Pompeii and Herculaneum.

We had a special guest (Paul LoBello) from NYC with us for the Triduum and the first week of Easter.

We travelled to the region of Siena, enjoying a stay in a castle and sightseeing and eating in the towns of Bagno Vignone, San Quirico d'Orcia, Buonconvento, Pienza and the Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore.

I was surprised to see the Reverend Fleming Rutledge sitting in front of me on the Second Sunday of Easter during the Eucharist at the Episcopal Church of St. Paul (inside the walls) here in Rome. I knew Fleming as a priest at Grace Church in Manhattan during the 1980's.

Last week we enjoyed a dinner with Bill and Kathie Maltby, a classmate from Mater Dei High School ('68) and Loyola University of Los Angeles ('72). Bill and his wife Kathie were visiting Rome as part of a vacation in Italy.