This Easter 46 Year 7 students enjoyed a fabulous residential to celebrate Easter in the Eternal City.
The primary reason for our pilgrimage was to pray at the tomb of the apostles, Peter and Paul, and on the first two days we visited the two basilicas which bear the name of these giants of the early Church. An added bonus was that we managed to secure tickets for the Papal Chrism Mass on Maundy Thursday and so we had the great privilege of celebrating mass with Pope Francis himself inside the famous St Peter’s Basilica designed by Michelangelo.
We saw the glory that was ancient Rome, once regarded as the centre of the world with its Forum and mighty Colosseum where gladiators did battle and Christians were fed to wild beasts. We explored subterranean Rome of the catacombs as well taking in breathtaking rooftop views across the city from the Victor Emmanuel Monument.
We also enjoyed trips out beyond Rome, visiting Subiaco where St Benedict began is life as a hermit, Viterbo which was once the home of popes in the Middle Ages, and Orvieto with its stunning hilltop location topped off with the most beautiful cathedral clad in white and pink marble.
The weather was kind to us and the sun shone as we strolled around ancient cobbled streets, relaxed in piazzas graced by splendid fountains, ate traditional Italian food in local restaurants - as well as one or two delicious Italian ice - creams. On the last day we observed the traditional custom of throwing three coins into the Trevi Fountain in the hope of one day returning to the city.
Our accommodation was the idyllic Villa Palazzola in the Alban Hills to the south of Rome. The food and hospitality were once again first class, as was the view across Lake Albano to Castelgandolfo, the summer residence of popes down the ages.
We are very grateful to all the staff at Palazzola for their care and kindness, especially Mena and all those who cooked such fantastic food for us. We would also like to thank Fr Mark who helped arrange meals out in restaurants and who led the celebration of our final mass on Easter Sunday at the English College. We also met up with Alan Wasowski who is studying for the priesthood at the college and who was a former student of St Bede’s.
Thanks to Heather and Les from Glovers Coaches who were once again so skilful and helpful in getting us around the city and even up some narrow, winding roads that seemed barely wide enough for a car, never mind a coach.
Finally and most importantly, a big “thankyou” to our 46 students who were excellent in every way, and a great credit to themselves, their parents, and the college.