Monday, March 28, 2011

An Italian Shore

Monday morning, I boarded a train for Nettuno with some other girls. Nettuno is a coastline town not far from Rome, and there lies St. Maria Goretti. The train ride was glorious- as we sped out of the city, the graffiti-covered buildings were replaced by lush, rolling hills. There were outlying Roman ruins rising out of a green sward and crowned with ivy. Little hamlets, olive groves, vineyards, cypress trees, grazing sheep- we saw these things and basked in the sheer Italian-ness of it all.

After the pleasant ride, we arrived in Nettuno and immediately walked to the church of St. Maria Goretti, which sits right next to the shore. After praying in the church, we went out to the beach. Ashley and I sat on a pier and ate rolls and Nutella, stolen from the hotel breakfast, and then we took off our shoes and walked across the sand to an area covered by huge rocks. We climbed onto the rocks and found comfortable places to sit. I was surprised at how white my bare legs looked in the sunlight- evidence of the long Austrian winter. "Ashley, look! My legs are glowing!" We enjoyed the warmth of the sun, the strong wind, the glittering sea, the sound of the water crashing onto the rocks, and the calls of the seagulls.

The Endless Horizon  

After two or three hours in Nettuno, we caught a train back to Rome. We wanted to make it back in time for Mass at St. Paul's Outside the Walls, which was at four o'clock. The train to Nettuno had only taken fifty minutes, but the train back took an hour and a half. Despite the delay, we managed it, which is impressive considering the fact that neither Ashley nor I had navigated the metro by ourselves before. We arrived at our stop with only a couple minutes to spare, and ended up sprinting several blocks to St. Paul's, arriving just as the Gospel reading was ending. 

After Mass, I went into a side chapel with the crucifix from which St. Bridget of Sweden received the stigmata, and the Pieta prayers. Kevin was there with the Pieta prayer book, and he let me pray the prayers with him before the crucifix. To pray them in front of that very cross made the prayers even more profound and meaningful. By the time we finished, most of the other students were gone. The black-robed Benedictine monks were in the sanctuary chanting. That night, after dinner at the hotel, I made it to the holy hour with no problems, and it was a peaceful way to close the day. 

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