A Roman Pilgrimage in Honor of the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
Thomas A. Droleskey
Looking for the Traditional Latin Mass in Rome
Our second full day in Rome, Thursday, May 12, 2005, found me in the grips of the major cold and sore throat that had been coming on since the trip from the United States three days before. Fits of coughing and wheezing were coupled with an increasing lack of an ability to speak. Laryngitis, which would be in "full throat," so to speak, by the next day was on its way. This was turning out to be a really penitential trip, probably compounded by the fact that so many demons were infested in the rented apartment in Rome where we were staying.
Father Lawrence C. Smith commented to me a few days ago that he would not have stayed in an apartment that had been adorned with the horrible symbols and decals that we found at Via Andrea Doria 79. The heat and humidity of the apartment was certainly reflective of the heat produced by demons. These wretched elements probably helped to create a terrible series of rashes that plagued our dear Lucy, one of which caused her to cry out in excruciating pain late on Monday evening, May 16, 2005. However, we had nowhere else to go. Physically exhausted from the travels and working within a very tight set of budgetary restrictions (like, say, nothing), we had to stay put. Thus, I asperged the apartment at night with Holy Water. We said the August Queen of Heaven prayer and the Prayer to Saint Michael the Archangel. And we arrayed all of Lucy's little saints, which she loves to play with and pray to, in the bedroom, knowing that demons are not, generally speaking, partial to images of the saints. It is tiring, though, even to think about that apartment, no less to remember how penitential it was to live there for fifteen nights.
As noted before, the apartment was located right by a open air market, which featured fresh-caught fish from the Mediterranean, among other things. It was amazing to see how many women were lining up to buy fresh fish each of the two Fridays of our stay, reminding us that law of abstinence from meat on Fridays, which was, like so many other things, "relaxed" in the 1960s, is still very much part of Italy's contemporary life. The food was fresh, not processed with all manner of preservatives as we find here in the United States. The open air market, which consisted of a number of different stands spread out over several blocks, really harkened back to the life that was brought to many of our own cities by Catholic immigrants at the end of the Nineteenth Century. There was still a bit of Catholic residue to be found in the otherwise profane--and at times quite obscene-landscape of contemporary Rome.
After a few stops en route to Piazza San Pietro, we made our way, pushing Penance the Stroller, to Sala Stampa della Santa Sede, the Press Office of the Holy See, which is located on the Via della Conciliazione. I had been credentialed with a Vatican press pass in 1993, 1995, and 1996. As access to the press office would have been useful to check e-mail and possibly to attempt to post articles on this site, I had filled out an online application several weeks before, thinking that this would take care of matters. Well, it did not. The woman who was stationed behind a desk in that office had no record of any application, which I had to fill out en toto once more. And I was in for an tongue-lashing by another employee the next day, Friday, when that application was said to be lacking information that I thought had been e-mailed prior to our departure. More on that in a short while.
As it was our intention to get to Thursday evening Mass at the Chapel of Saint Catherine of Siena, which is administered by the Society of Saint Pius X, at Via Urbana 85, we decided to walk across the Tiber River to visit some of the churches that I was accustomed to visiting every time I walked along the Corso Vittorio Emanuele II. Negotiating the stroller along the narrow sidewalks, full of cracks in the cement, and up and down the high curbs proved to be a bit of a challenge. I had to judge, sometimes most unsuccessfully, whether there was enough space between parked cars/motor scooters through which to push Penance the Stroller, in which sat in her own little "sede" Lucy Mary Norma Droleskey. The heat and the humidity of the mid-day sun made for a lot of offerings to Our Lady's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart as we crossed the murky waters of the Tiber River.
Ahead of us on the right was a church, the Basilica of San Giovanni del Fiorentini. We were able to spend some time in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament there, although we were distressed to see that some sort of inter-religious concert was going to take place in its nave a few days later. Sadly, there were reminders almost everywhere of the revolutionary agenda that has so devastated the Faith. All we could do was to thank God for bringing into a church that was not locked so that we could spend some time in prayer before Our Lord in His Real Presence.
A tiny internet shop just north of the Basilica of San Giovanni del Fiorentini provided my contact with the rest of the world for that day, Thursday, May 12. It was beginning to look as though the reports of the appointment of San Francisco Archbishop William Levada as Pope Benedict XVI's own successor as the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith were true. One report that was e-mailed to me told the tale that Archbishop Levada's 1973 doctoral thesis at the Gregorianum, the Jesuit University in Rome, concluded that the Catholic Church could never "teach infallibly ANY concrete moral norm." I told this to Sharon, prompting us to break out in a rendition of, "I whistle a happy tune, whenever I get afraid. . . ." Lucy, who loves to sing, just looked as she attempted to learn the tune for herself.
Our stroll, well, it wasn't a stroll. I walk briskly. Indeed, a young visitor who had accompanied the Turpins from the Chartres Pilgrimage to Rome said that "Chartres was just a preparation for Rome" after one day of my leading the troops through some pretty rigorous paces. I am a New Yorker. I am fast-paced. This is my particular nature. I walk fast. This tired out my wonderful wife as we walked along the Corso Vittorio Emanuele II. It was my hope to be able to stop at the Basilica of San Andrea di Valle and the Chiesa Nuova, the church of the Oratory of Saint Philip Neri (in which his sarcophagus is under a side altar). Alas, those churches were closed for the mid-day siesta. Thus, we pushed (emphasis on pushed) on. And on.
We ventured upon the Gesu, the principal Jesuit church of Rome, which has been undergoing both exterior and interior repairs ever since I first visited Rome in 1984. The Blessed Sacrament was exposed for adoration that particular Thursday. A good number of people were praying before Our Lord, proving once more that God's grace is indeed at work in the souls of the faithful despite the best efforts of the revolutionaries to eradicate the Faith of our fathers. There was the magnificent sight of an elderly Jesuit priest, who looked for all the world like the late Father John Hardon, hearing confessions in one of those typical European confessionals (no curtains to conceal the penitents, who confess on their knees on either side of the priest). And we got to pray at the altar of Saint Ignatius of Loyola himself. That valiant solider in the Army of Christ must be saddened by the treachery of so many of his contemporary sons. We prayed to him for the restoration of the Society of Jesus to its former steadfastness in support of the Deposit of Faith and for authentic Tradition of the Catholic Church. We were getting more time to spend with Our Lord than we have during the course of a normal day after Mass here in California. Our time in Rome was to be one of prayer. God saw to it in His Holy Providence that it was also a time of penance.
Our sojourn to Via Urbana 85 continued thereafter. We reached the Piazza Venezia, where I knew we would find a Perpetual Adoration Chapel that had been instituted by Mother Teresa of Calcutta. I warned Sharon beforehand that the chapel would be starkly plain (or plainly stark, take your pick). It was exactly as I had remembered it. This prompted Sharon to note after we had spent a bit of time before Our Lord, "This is all so wrong. While we should live simply and modestly, the King of Kings deserves grandeur and beauty." Once again, a convert of not even six years' standing saw it all so very clearly and with such purity of soul.
From that point to our destination, though, I must admit that I took the "scenic," route, albeit inadvertently. I thought that we could cut through to the Via Panisperna from the Piazza Venezia. Well, we could have if I wanted to carry the stroller up about eighty or one hundred steps. I should have led my family down the Via Nazionale to near Stazione Termini, the main train station in rome, to get to the Society of Saint Pius X chapel. Ah, that was not to be. We walked and walked and walked on Via dei Fori Imperiali, a street that took us past the ruins of the Roman Forum and down to the Via Cavour, just a bit north of the Coliseum, which Lucy recognized from having seen photographs of it in various books. "There's the Coliseum," she said."That's where the martyrs were put to death!" As we had to get to Holy Mass, our visit to the Coliseum had to wait until the Turpins arrived from France a week later. However, Lucy was on the lookout for the important sights.
Some people say that there are Seven Hills in Rome. These people lie. There are far more than seven hills! We walked up every hill imaginable while in Rome, including a pretty steep one on the Via Cavour that took us up the Esquiline Hill, right near the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, passing by a sign that indicated we were near San Pietro in Vincolo (Saint Peter's in Chains). Turning away from Santa Maria Maggiore, we found the Via Urbana, passing by one of the famed house churches, Santa Pudentzia. Finally, after several hours of walking, we came upon a nondescript building, marked only with a sign indicating that it was the Chapel of Saint Catherine of Siena. It was unclear whether there was Mass that day or not. A priest, Father Rossi, happened by with a key just as we were trying to decipher the sign.
Although I have written an article detailing our search the next day for the "legal" Traditional Mass in Rome that will be in the July issue of Catholic Family News, suffice it to say for present purposes that there is absolutely no difference between the exterior of the two places. The allegedly "schismatic" Mass is in an out-of-the-way location. So is the "legal" Mass. People have to know where to look for these respective Masses. No one who is merely strolling along a major street of Rome is going to bump into either one of these Masses, quite a telling commentary when one considers that all of the churches in the older part of Rome, leaving aside those built more recently that are on the outskirts of the city, were built for the offering of the Traditional Latin Mass as that was the only Mass that existed in the Roman Rite until the 1960s. In other words, one has to really search out for Tradition in the City of Catholic Tradition.
It was good to be assist at Holy Mass after a two day absence. Lucy, though, almost made her First Holy Communion at that Mass, as she reminded me tonight, June 17, 2005. "I stuck my tongue out, remember, Dada? And the priest almost gave me Communion?" She's right! I had forgotten that little detail. Sharon had to place her hand over Lucy's mouth to prevent her from receiving Our Lord at the age of thirty-seven and one-half months. She will be more than ready to receive her First Holy Communion when the time is ready.
Getting out of Mass around 7:20 p.m., however, meant that we would be getting home late, which was not good for any of us, especially poor Lucy with her rashes. All to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. We found that the chapel where we had heard Holy Mass was just north of the Cavour stop on the Linea B of the Metro ("Who knew?" I asked Sharon as we waked into the station), taking a train to the madhouse that is Stazione Termini for a Linea A train back to the Cipro stop near our rented apartment. It was only our second full day but we were pretty exhausted. It was exactly the way that one should feel while on a pilgrimage.
We had a bit of a cause for alarm before we tried, some more successfully than others, to get to some that night. Sharon noticed rings on Lucy's back, thinking that our daughter had developed a case of ringworm. All we could do at that point was to hope and pray that that was not the case. It turned out to be a heat rash caused by the inhospitable environment of the rented apartment. Still and all, we were concerned and gave that up to Our Lady overnight.
An Unexpected Papal Sighting
My return trip to Sala Stampa della Santa Sede on Friday, May 13, 2005, the eighty-eighth anniversary of the first apparition of Our Lady to Blessed Jacinta and Blessed Francisco and their cousin, the late Sister Lucia dos Santos, in the Cova da Iria, proved to be quite a good exercise in humiliation. The official at the Vatican Press Office who was not there the day before read the riot act to me about not having my paperwork completed. Well, she was right. The office had never gotten the paperwork I had filled out online. And there were two items that I did not send at all. Thus, I was scolded and upbraided in absolutely no uncertain terms. All I could do was to say in all sheepishness that I would endeavor to complete the forms completely, pointing out that I had done so each of the three previous times that I had been credentialed by that office. It was a good, old-fashioned tongue-lashing. Sharon and Lucy were outside as all of this was going on inside of the office.
As I exited the office, though, I saw on one of the office's televisions what turned out to be a videotape of Pope Benedict XVI taking possession of his cathedral as the Bishop of Rome, the Basilica of San Giovanni Laterano. It was during that ceremony that the Holy Father, who mentioned not one blessed word about the anniversary of Our Lady of Fatima or the importance of the Fatima Message, announced that Archbishop William Levada was indeed going to be his successor as the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and that he was going to put the late Pope John Paul II on the "fast track" to beatification and canonization. I do not understand either one of these things. My lack of understanding has been expressed in different articles, both on this site and in The Remnant and Catholic Family News. All one can do is to shake one's head in disbelief and to give the state of the Church in her human elements at present to Our Lady's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart.
There was quite a commotion on the Via della Conciliazione by the time that I had emerged from the tongue-lashing at Sala Stampa della Santa Sede. Sharon and Lucy and I worked our way out to a sidewalk, of sorts, right on the street. A large crowd of people, looking to be about a thousand or two in number, had begun to line both sides of the street. This could mean only one thing: they knew that the Pope was on his way back to the Apostolic Palace inside of the Vatican Walls. They were right.
Sharon saw the white umbrella that covered the Holy Father on the Popemobile as it made its way up from the Tiber. "There he is, Lucy," Sharon told our daughter as she saw the white umbrella getting closer to us. I picked up Lucy and held her as high as I could so that she could see Pope Benedict, Papa Benedetto. No matter our concerns for his past and current words and actions, Pope Benedict is the Vicar of Christ. A Catholic's heart should always be warmed when seeing his spiritual father on earth, the Successor of Saint Peter. Mine was. I took off my hat in the light mist that was falling, shifting Lucy from side to side as I did so. Sure enough, there went Pope Benedict XVI, waving to the crowd. Waving to, not blessing, the crowd, I should add. Oh, the dispatch from Zenit that was posted later on that day said that the Holy Father blessed crowd on the Via della Conciliazione. Maybe this was so before he got to where we were standing, just to the east of Piazza San Pietro. I can tell you this much, though: I looked to see if he was going to give a blessing, being ready to kneel if he had done so. He did not. He just waved as though he was Milton Berle or some other celebrity. I felt like saying through my laryngitic voice, "Come back here, Holy Father. Give my daughter a blessing!" Father Paul Sretenovic wrote to me to say that I should have said, "Fatima! Fatima!" In any event, the warmth of seeing the Holy Father was soon surpassed by the sobriety of realizing that the simple act of blessing a crowd continuously has been lost on a Vicar of Christ.
Many people stood around in the misty rain after the Popemobile had passed by. Sharon had capture the moment on film (see below). Lucy was very thrilled to have seen the Pope. I couldn't help but notice, however, that the new Holy Father's Coat of Arms will soon replace those of his predecessor, the late Pope John Paul II, who maintained the triple tiara at the top of his coat of arms even though he was not crowned on October 22, 1978, and never wore the tiara. Pope Benedict XVI has replaced the triple tiara on his own coat of arms with a mitre. "Just the first among equals, that's all the mitre will symbolize to other bishops within the Church and to the heretics without," I noted to Sharon.
Well, we pushed on down the Via della Conciliazione at the noon hour, stopping at a Farmacia to see what kind of medicine we could get for Lucy's rash. I had not had too much success communicating my desires at Farmacias during my previous five visits to Rome. Indeed, I had a terrible sore throat in October of 1984. Trying my very best to speak in some sort of way that was intelligible to an Italian, I resorted to pointing to my throat and saying, "Throata sora." That didn't get me very far.
Well, we fared a little better on May 13, 2005. There was a pharmacist at a Farmacia on the corner of the Via della Conciliazione and another street just before the Tiber that spoke English better than we spoke Italian. She said that Lucy did not have ringworm. "Non funghi," she said. "Non funghi." She recommended a cream for Lucy and some pills for my sore throat and laryngitis. "Has properties," she told me. What kind of properties? Oh, well, I wasn't going to ask. As I was without my principal crutch for when I get laryngitis and bronchitis, Zithromax, any port in storm would have to do. She was very helpful and the cream did help to clear the rashes on the back, doing nothing, though for other rashes would cause Lucy to cry out in excruciating pain three nights later.
We traversed the Tiber once again with difficulty, pushing Penance the Stroller all the while. Sharon and Lucy paid a visit to San Giovanni del Fiorentini as I check the numerous e-mails at the internet stop. We discovered a bit later than Lucy left a little umbrella that she used all of the time at San Giovanni del Fiorentini. She cried and cried and cried. We told her that God permits us to lose the things of this passing world so that we will never lose Him by means of committing a mortal sin and thus lose the possibility of eternal union with Him in Heaven. She listens. She still misses her umbrella. However, she listens.
Our principal task for the rest of that day was to find our way to the "legal" Traditional Latin Mass in Rome. The Society of Saint Pius X does not offer daily Mass in Rome, only offering Mass on Sundays and Thursdays (and First Fridays). Their priory is located in Albano, some distance south of Rome, and certainly not accessible at 7:15 a.m. with a young child who needed her sleep. Thus, knowing that there was a possibility, however remote, that I might be denied Holy Communion for my support of the Society of Saint Pius X and for the subsidiary role I played in helping Father Paul Sretenovic to break from the Novus Ordo, I had made inquiry of an indult community that offers the Mass in Rome to find out their location so that we could get to evening Mass. I was told that the street on which there chapel was located was not listed on any map, again, something that is discussed in the Catholic Family News article. However, I wanted to stay reasonably close to that general area in order to get to the evening Mass.
Turning north off of the Corso Vittorio Emanuele, we walked down one cobblestone street after another, coming upon the Piazza Navona, where is to be found the Church of Saint Agnes in Agony, which was closed, and the Church of Saint Louis, King of France, which was undergoing reconstruction. We turned to the east and made our way over to the Santa Maria di Pantheon, which was glorious. Oh, the wreckovators had been there, to be sure. However, this former temple of the pagan Romans still stood as a shrine of the Mother of God who made possible our salvation by her perfect fiat to the Father's will at the Annunciation. We spent a few moments in prayer there before we left to try to find something to eat.
One restaurant in the piazza near the Pantheon was very pricey. Thus, it was on to a familiar sign that is not normally frequented in our lives here in the United States: the golden arches of McDonald's. Fish sandwiches for Sharon and me. Chicken McNuggets for Lucy. Oh, yes, I was able to get a cup of soda with a few specks of ice, having to stand up and beg on my hind legs for more ice. Actually, I had to pay two Euros for more ice!
We went on from there to try to get into the Church of San Eustacio, the great Roman martyr who had been separated from his wife and sons early in life only to be reunited with them shortly before they were all killed as martyrs for the Faith. The Church of San Eustacio was closed. Chiusa, as they say in Italian. Open, though, was the Church of San Lorenzo in Lucina. This is not the principal church of Saint Lawrence the Deacon in Rome. We went there the following Sunday, May 22, 2005. Inside of this particular church was the golden gilded griddle on which Saint Lawrence was fried to death. "You can turn me over now. I'm done on this side." I thought that the gilded griddle was a replica, merely a symbol of the instrument of Saint Lawrence's martyrdom. Sharon insisted that it was the actual griddle. She was right. It was good to spend some time in prayer there.
Making our way to the Via del Corso, which I knew was close to a cross street that would take us to the "legal" Traditional Mass in Rome, we found a wonderful array of churches. The Basilica of San Ambrosio e San Carlos was magnificent. The Church of Gesu e Maria featured a famous painting of Saint Lucy, which our daughter recognized immediately as her namesake and patron saint. She knelt down to pray to Saint Lucy before we visited Our Lord. Other churches awaited as we approached the Via del Popolo and turned around to head back in the direction of where we thought the indult chapel was located, passing by Saint Rocco's Church which was closed.
As is reported in the July issue of Catholic Family News, we found the location of the indult chapel about two hours before the offering of Mass, making our way from there to a place to get Lucy some sorbetto. She was such a good girl. The time spent in the stroller was irritating her skin no end. She is an active child who loves to run. She did know, though, that we were on an important pilgrimage and rarely complained about being in Penance the Stroller most of the day. We had a very long walk back from the indult chapel across to the Tiber River to the Lepanto stop on Linea A of the Metro take us back to the rented apartment after a very long but glorious day of visiting many of the famous churches just east of the Tiber River. It was everything that a pilgrimage should be. See below for an image of Saint Peter's from the bridge where we crossed after Holy Mass on the evening of May 13.
Falling Down on the Job, So to Speak
Lucy was so very good that we wanted to give her something of a break from the hectic pace the following day, May 14, 2005. Uniting our intentions with those who were walking both ways in France (Paris-Chartres, Chartres-Paris), we set out on the Metro to take Lucy to the Villa Borghese, a large park in Rome, to let her run around a bit before we took her to the Rome Zoo. Although a bit overcast, the day was another scorcher. I was thirsty, opting to buy a Coca-Cola Light, as the product is called in Europe, at a little convenience store off of the Flaminio stop of Linea A, which is right near the Piazza del Popolo where we had been just the day before.
Lucy was demanding to taste some of my soda. Sharon was explaining that she wouldn't like soda, that her cousins, Claire and Elodie Turpin, don't like soda at all. Lucy was unimpressed. I was complaining about the hard to push stroller, looking around to see how to negotiate my way up to the Villa Borghese, which stood rather dauntingly above the street level. We passed through the Piazza del Popolo, where some sort of Masonic celebration was to take place, passing under an arch as I muttered and mumbled once again about the stroller. My chronically weak right ankle buckled at that moment as the stroller got caught in a cobblestone. I went down in a flash, banging my chin so hard on the stroller handle that the reverberation in my jaw went throughout my entire body. My left knee was bleeding and the left pant leg of the only suit I owned, a gift given to me for my 53rd birthday last November by the Turpins, was torn beyond repair. I was quite a sight as I laid on the ground, surrounded by a group of concerned and well-meaning Romans who sincerely wanted to help me.
In the daze of the the banged up jaw and bleeding knee I heard that Lucy was crying. I thought she was upset that her father was fallen. Au contraire. She was crying because I had spilled the Diet Coke, oh, Coca-Cola Light, excuse, me, all over her as I fell. She found out that she really did not like Coca-Cola, unlike her father, who used to drink the regular stuff (you know, the old six and one-half ounce glass bottle that was full of complete sugar canes) by the case-load as a child. She was crying for her mother to get the wretched stuff off of her, and more than a little angry at me for having spilled it on her. Lucy was very upset with me for spilling the plastic soda bottle, which had flown through the air, I am told, on her. "Dada, why did you spill soda on me?" Lucy cried. However, I was more than a little discombobulated at that moment!
The Good Samaritans of Rome, meanwhile, helped me up to my feet. "Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, we love you, save souls" I gasped as I was brought to my feet and hobbled along. Sharon insisted that we should go home. I told her that we had promised Lucy some time at the park and the zoo. We had to keep our word. Onward we trod. It was, though, rather discouraging to ask a police office how to get to the Rome Zoo in the Villa Borghese. He just looked at me, rolled his eyes, turning his head backward and waving with his arms, signifying that we had a long, long way to go. He wasn't just a whistlin' Sicily.
A Little Bit of Consolation for Lucy Mary Norma
We had two choices: carry the stroller up a huge set of stairs or push it up a steep hill to get to the interior roadway of the Villa Borghese. With Penance the Stroller going this way and that way as I pushed, we went up and up and up and up and up the steep hill. I had the time to jog and/or walk when I was single. Doing up to five miles of this every day helped to keep my weight off. Some people can eat all they want and never exercise no matter how old they get. I hate those people. I am not one of them. I must exercise or I gain weight. What might have been easier forty or fifty pounds ago was quite a struggle on May 14 as I went up that steep, steep hill. I can't be in that bad of shape, though: I kept going and wasn't that much out of breath for an overweight man in his fifties who has little time for exercise these days. We sure got our exercise in Rome. Awaiting us at the top of the hill was a truly grand view of Saint Peter's and much of the area of Rome we had traversed the previous two days.
We got to the top of the steep hill and let Lucy run around. "Let the baby run around," is what I tell Sharon when we stop the motor home for gasoline after we have been on the road for six to seven hours between gasoline stops. Lucy has taken to that phrase. "Let the baby run around," she'll say to me whenever we are on the road. Well, our baby, who is nearly thirty-nine months ago, ran around at the Villa Borghese, finding her way to a little carousel, which pleased her no end.
God is very generous to each of us. He gives us things to make us happy in this life (as a foretaste of eternal happiness) that would mean nothing to some other person. He knows us so completely and so personally that He gives us little consolations and joys that are tailored for us. Such was the case with Lucy on May 14, 2005. God gave our daughter the joy of the carousel, which we pointed out to her, thanking her Guardian Angel and Saint Anthony for helping her to find such a treat after days of being confined to the stroller. She enjoyed herself thoroughly. And the long, long walk to the zoo within the Villa Borghese paid off: she had a grand time looking at the animals, getting an opportunity to get the exercise she had been lacking during most of the preceding five days. She even got to go down a slide at a park inside of the zoo, which featured pretty standard fare as far as zoos go (we've become zoo experts as a result of traveling the country with our daughter). Our favorite animal is the "lowly donkey." Why? Ah, the donkey carried Our Lady and Our Lord, that's why. Lucy loves the majestic creature known as the donkey. And Lucy got to see a "Joke Tiger" and a "Joke Bear," which were men dressed up in tiger and bear costumes to greet the children and to prompt their parents to pay for pricey photographs with them. Lucy even came up with the following line all on her own, "Dada, did you see that the bear was in his bear feet." She is very good with puns at the age of three. Amazing. We demurred, though, on having photographs taken either the Joke Bear or the Joke Tiger.
The Rome Zoo is nowhere near anything. There were several bus lines that passed by the place where we had exited from the zoo. However, none of them looked to be going in the direction of the Basilica of San Giovanni Laterano, which is where we wanted to go after the zoo. After waiting about half an hour for a bus we decided to hail a cab, which was easier said than done. The Roman cabbies proved to be quite independent on the three times we needed a cab during our fifteen day stay. We finally got one. Lucy fell fast asleep almost as soon as she was in the cab, waking up as we arrived at the side entrance to the Pope's cathedral as Bishop of Rome. It was nice to be back at San Giovanni Laterano, where I had attended Maundy Thursday Mass offered by Pope John Paul II in 1995.
San Giovanni Laterno and the Sancta Scala
The Basilica of San Giovanni Laterano is glorious. It is where the great Pope Leo XIII, whose writings I rely on so extensively in my work on the Social Reign of Christ the King, is buried. One of the Blessed Sacrament chapels is near Pope Leo's body. We had an opportunity thus to pray before Our Lord right near the mortal remains of a pope who had warned the Catholic world of the dangers posed by the modern State. Quite a privilege. Also to be found in the Basilica of San Giovanni Laterano are huge statues of each of the Apostles. Once again, one is overwhelmed by the thought of the great love of God that prompted so many thousands of people to work so long and so anonymously to build great churches in which the Sacrifice of the Cross can be offered anew in an unbloody manner and wherein resides Christ the King in His Real Presence. Words are inadequate to describe the awe. Completely and utterly inadequate.
Well, if words are inadequate to describe the Basilica of San Giovanni Laterano they are beyond useless in describing the Church of the Sancta Scala right across the street from it. Although the literature placed inside the Church of the Holy Stairs refers to the story of Saint Helena, the Mother of Emperor Constantine, as merely a "legend," go tell that to the scores of pilgrims who were going up the Holy Stairs on their knees, yet another sign of the working of God's graces in His Holy Church despite the best efforts of the revolutionaries to belittle the past and to denigrate as mere legends actual events in the history of the Church.
The actual marble steps that Our Lord climbed to be judged by Pontius Pilate are covered by wood. Pilgrims climb up on the wood that covers the marble steps, placing their fingers through slits in at the base of each step so that they may place their hands on the actual steps used by Our Lord. This is one of the things that one cannot truly fathom while one is doing it, and I have gone up the steps every time I have been in Rome. The mind is simply numbed by the thought of what you are doing. There is no other way to describe it. None whatsoever. I know I am climbing up over the steps used by Our Lord to be condemned on account of my sins. I know that. I cannot comprehend the enormity of it at all. And what was even more numbing was the sight of seeing my daughter, who knew full well what the steps were, climbing up on her knees without being told to do so, holding a Rosary in her hands as she went up all by herself. Tears come to my eyes just thinking about that scene, no less writing about it. What an inspiration my wife is to our dear daughter, a little girl who is willful (I have no idea where that comes from!) at times and more than a bit spoiled (my fault, entirely) but one who does love God and who desires to get home to Heaven.
Awaiting us at the top the Sancta Scala was a chapel, located to the right of the stairs, where the Novus Ordo is offered. The tabernacle was in the form of a spherical object, possibly a globe. It was an eyesore. "Oh, yes," I whispered to Sharon, "they have to attack all of the symbols of Tradition in the churches and sites where the most tourists are likely to go." We are sensible beings who are affected by the sights and sounds around us. "Modernizing" Catholic churches communicates the belief that the Faith itself needs to be modernized. This is an inescapable conclusion on the basis of the symbolism displayed in one wreckovated church after another, including wreckovated churches in Rome. And it is an inescapable conclusion of a liturgy that is supposed to be a response to the "need" for theological and liturgical"updating." How very, very sad.
A Blurry Image of One Who Blurred the Church
As there was still time left before going to the evening Mass (Saturday liturgy, not a Sunday "vigil" Mass), we pressed ourselves to walk up the steep hill on Via Emanuele Filiberto that would take us to Piazza Santa Maria Maggiore to see whether Our Lady's most favored church in Rome was open. It was a long, long walk up to Santa Maria Maggiore. I was limping. Sharon was lagging. Lucy was being bothered by a terrible rash. We were doing penance for our sins and those of the whole world as we walked up the hill to Santa Maria Maggiore, where a Novus Ordo Sunday vigil Mass was being held for the Solemnity of Pentecost. The celebrant of the Mass? Glad you asked. None other than the disgraced Bernard Cardinal Law, who was appointed by the late Pope John Paul II to serve as the Archpriest of Our Lady's Roman Basilica, Santa Maria Maggiore.
Sharon tried to take a photograph of His Eminence as he preached in what appeared to be flawless Italian. Each of the shots came out blurry. She was able to snap one five days later when we returned with the Turpins. However, our effort to catch His Eminence's visage on film was unsuccessful that Saturday, May 14, 2005. It is a very black mark on the pontificate of the late Pope John Paul II that Cardinal Law, who helped to protect perverted priests in the Archdiocese of Boston, including one, Father Paul Shanley, who co-founded an organization to promote the corruption of children as an expression of "love," was given such a prominent position as the Archpriest of Santa Maria Maggiore. We said a prayer for His Eminence as we left the Basilica to get on a Metro train at Stazione Termini to take us to the Spagna stop for our walk over to the "indult" Mass that evening.
Must be a Whole Lot Yankees Fans Over Here
As was the case the evening before, the lateness of the Mass made it difficult to get back to our rented apartment easily, all the more so as we discovered after having a bite to eat that the Metro stops running at 8:00 p.m.! Sick with the laryngitis and bad cough, banged up from the fall, physically aching in every place imaginable, I had no intention of walking all the way back to Via Andrea Doria 79. There is only one solution in a situation like this: "TAXI!" Ah, that was easier said than done.
We had to walk back on the Via Condotti to the Via del Corso, moving ourselves away from the madness of the Spanish Steps area, which was jammed pack with Saturday-night tourists, to find a cab stand. Most of the Roman cabbies on duty that night, however, must have been Yankees fans in general or fans of Joseph Paul Torre in particular. The sight of my Mets' hat must have displeased them terribly. Although I walked out of Shea Stadium three years ago on July 16 in protest of the advertising of a certain pharmaceutical product in a public forum in the presence of children and have not been back to any Major League baseball game anywhere since that time, I still have the vestigial after-effects of forty years (and 1600 games attended in person) of following the New York Mets. The black and blue hat I had with me in Rome helped to protect my balding head from the Mediterranean sun. Wearing that cap with my suit and tie must have made me a strange sight in Rome, though. So much so that several cabbies passed us by, favoring others. This went on for about thirty-five minutes before one cabbie agreed to pick us up, getting us back to the apartment very, very late that Saturday, May 14, 2005.
Everybody Off of the Train
We knew that the two contingents of the Chartres pilgrims were celebrating Whit-Sunday in the midst of their grueling pilgrimage. Our five to nine mile a day walkathon in Rome was nothing in comparison to the sufferings endured by the Chartres Pilgrims, who walk about thirty miles or so on each of the first two days of the pilgrimage. That is quite a pace. We thus united our own celebration of Pentecost Sunday, May 15, 2005, with the efforts of the Chartres pilgrims, who had to endure torrential rains during the first three hours or so of their pilgrimage on May 14, to give Our Lady the fruit of all of their sufferings and sacrifices and prayers and songs.
Our efforts to get to Whit-Sunday Mass at the Chapel of Saint Catherine of Siena at Via Urbana 85 was thwarted by the ever-unpredictable subway workers of Rome. The Linea A train that was to take us on May 15 to Stazione Termini, where we would have transferred to Linea B for our trip to the Cavour station near the chapel, stopped unexpectedly at the Spagna stop. Everybody was ordered off of the train. A temporary work stoppage had been called. This was not the first time I had experienced this. Indeed, I had it in the back of my mind that a work stoppage might interfere with our getting to Mass, not really believing that one would take place. Oh, well, all to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. We had to go to the indult Mass once again, finding ourselves with about eight hours to occupy before we could assist at Holy Mass on Pentecost Sunday.
Pounding the pavement of the Via Condotti where we had trodden just twelve hours before, we made our way back to the piazza near the Pantheon, passing by the Church of Saint Louis, King of France, just as a Novus Ordo processional, replete with altar girls, was making its way up the main aisle. "Quick, let's get out of here," I said to Sharon. "Saint Lucy, protect Lucy's eyes." Lucy sees everything, and I mean everything. We did not want her to see the horror of altar girls, thank you. Thus, we scurried out of there to get something to eat near the Pantheon, finding that all of the churches that were closed on Friday afternoon remained closed on Sunday afternoon. It was while walking in this lovely area just east of the Tiber that we encountered a monsignor with whom I had been in seminary, briefly, in 1981 at Mount Saint Mary's in Emmitsburg, Maryland. He was polite, although he wasn't exactly chummy. His clerical geiger-counter had detected a good deal of radioactivity emanating from my general direction, I suppose!
Novus Ordo Noise in Saint Peter's
Well, not wanting to walk all the way back to the apartment, we worked our way down to the Corso Vittorio Emanuele to visit the Basilica of Saint Peter once again. Actually, we spent some time under the Bernini Colonnade praying the Rosary before we went into Saint Peter's to spend some time in prayer in the Chapel of San Giuseppe, where we were given a reminder of how terrible it is to try to pray in a Novus Ordo setting. I found myself reverting to the role of "shhhhhhhsssing" talkers in the chapel, something I had to do regularly when I went I was living my "double-life" in the 1990s as one who assisted at the Novus Ordo on weekdays and at the Traditional Mass on Sundays. What a blessing it is to have daily access to the QUIET, NO AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION Low Mass at Our Lady Help of Christians in Garden, Grove, California.
We prayed once again at the altar of Pope Saint Pius X, remarking that some revolutionary had placed an image of his antithesis, Pope John XXIII, near his altar. The body of the former Angelo Roncalli was elsewhere in the nave of Saint Peter's, having displaced that of Saint Josaphat, believe it or not. However, someone who disliked Saint Pius X made sure to have an image of John XXIII, who helped to rehabilitate a lot of the Modernists that had been suppressed prior to his pontificate (the Oath itself was rescinded by Pope Paul VI in 1967), hovering near the altar of Giuseppe Sarto. Images matter, my friends. They matter a whole lot.
Exiting the Basilica of Saint Peter to pick up Penance the Stroller for the walk to the indult chapel, we stopped at the tourist trap known as the Cafe San Pietro to have a horrific meal before finally getting into the Church of Santa Maria in Transpotina on the Via della Conciliazione. It is a lovely church. Indeed, it is the very first church I visited in Rome after arriving on a charter flight on October 6, 1984. One can only imagine how many Traditional Masses were offered on the side altars of this splendid church before the revolution began in the 1960s. And a revolution it was. I remember that in 1993 the liturgy of Santa Maria in Transpotina on what was Ascension Thursday just up the street at Saint Peter's was for the Thursday in the Seventh Week of Easter. "Cardinal Mahony would be proud of you folks," I said to myself at the time. Santa Maria in Transpotina is a lovely place to pay a visit to the Blessed Sacrament. However, you would not want to go to Mass there now.
A River Walk Along the Tiber
We had enough time to walk from Santa Maria in Transpotina to the indult chapel, staying on the west side of the Tiber until we crossed over to the other side near the Italian Ministry of Justice, negotiating our way once again on cobblestones and having to scout out paths through which to push the stroller when faced with closely parked cars and motor scooters in the midst of our right-of-way. We had to bide our time at a really dingy cafe near the chapel before being able to pray before Mass on that Pentecost evening. The Mass itself was offered by a priest who had an obvious disdain for the Prayers after Low Mass, which are merely optional in the 1962 Missal. However, who would want to omit those prayers unless one is laboring under the massive delusion that Russia has been converted to the Catholic Faith? The omission of the Prayers after Low Mass the next day would cause Lucy Mary Norma a great deal of confusion and distress.
Having endured the Metro work stoppage some nine hours earlier, we decided to walk back to our rented apartment at Via Andrea Doria 79. Our walk back was a little hair-raising at times. Not realizing that there was no way to cross a particular street near the Palace of Justice on the west side of the Tiber, I was pushing the stroller, wherein resided Lucy, furiously, running along with the traffic, keeping an eye on Sharon who was bringing up the rear as the cars were whizzing past us for a good block or so. "This is the day of rest you promised me?" she asked half-jokingly. We even tried to catch a cab at one point, only to be snubbed once again. Over and over again. Others were able to hail cabs without a problem. We just had to soldier on all the way back to the apartment. Our "day of rest" was over.
We're Not Going to See the Infant of Prague After All
Monday, May 16, 2005, arrived to find all of the Droleskeys in very bad shape. Lucy Mary Norma had caught my cough and cold. Her rashes had gotten worse. I was still very sick. Sharon was coming down with a cough from which she would not recover until June 9, 2005. We had had it. We had hit the proverbial brick wall. We had to reassess our trip to Prague, being torn between keeping our commitment there and recognizing the reality that we were physically spent from our pilgrimage and that we could not have afforded to have rented a car in the Czech Republic to drive to Brno for a Corpus Christi Mass and Procession offered by the Society of Saint Pius X on May 26, 2005. What we hoped could be done was to change our airline tickets from back to Rome from Prague so that would could leave from Prague on May 26, participate in the Society's Corpus Christi Mass in Rome and thence return to California. That was our hope, furtive as it turned out.
Thus, venturing out from the apartment on May 16, we went down our familiar pedestrian route to the Sala Stampa della Santa Sede so that I could pick up the press pass that would give me access to a computer to check e-mail and to attempt to post articles on the site. I was given yet another tongue-lashing for not having filled out all of the forms properly. When all was said and done, though, I was handed the press pass and was able to rejoin Sharon and Lucy on the Via della Conciliazione. We then went to the entrance to the Apostolic Palace to get the "bleacher seat" tickets for the General Audience on Wednesday, May 18. I wanted Lucy to receive a Papal Blessing, knowing full well that the Papal Audience in Saint Peter's Square would be a veritable zoo as it had been during the days of Pope John Paul II. No matter whether it is is held in Piazza San Pietro or in the ugly as sin Paul VI Audience Hall, the General Audiences have become little else other than an opportunity for people to participate in the cult of the personality of whoever happens to be the Vicar of Christ. We pray for the Holy Father and we respect his person. He is not, however, in his person the entirety of the Catholic Faith. I fell into that trap for many years. My attitude about the Pope is much more in line with the history of the Tradition of the Church, which eschewed the cult of the personality entirely.
After picking up the tickets ("The VIP days are gone, honey," I told Sharon. "We're in the back of the bus"), we had a bite to eat at the Trattoria al Cupola, where a number of gypsies walked by on the Borgo Pio and played "Autumn Leaves" quite badly on their accordions. One little boy was dancing up a storm as his father played an accordion. Nice, but no Euros, thank you.
It was then on up to the Ottaviano stop on Linea A of the Metro to go to the Piazza Barberini in order to walk up the steep hill that is the Via Vittorio Veneto to the Air France offices on Via Sardegna. To use a colloquialism, we were wasted.
Exiting from the Barberini subway station, I saw the Church of the Immaculate Conception, which I hoped was open. It is the very historic church of the Capuchin Friars in Rome. We wanted to spend some time in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. However, the sacristan insisted on giving us a tour of the cloister where the monks used to gather in prayer for their Daily Office. He also showed us the cell of Saint Felice da Cantalice, who died in 1587. This saintly Capuchin friar's only posessions were a Rosary and a Crucifix, which fit on two picture frames on a well in his cell. The other saint whose cell was nearby was Saint Crispino da Viterbo. The sacristan told us that people who prayed near these cells had known miraculous cures. One girl left her crutches there after praying in the cell. A man who suffered from a rare blood disease was instantly cured. And we were told that the crypt level beneath the miraculous cell was a collection of skulls and skeletal remains of people who had been buried nearby. It was until a recently a custom for Italian women to take their children to see those skulls and skeletal remains during Lent to show them what happens to the human body after death. We did not see the skulls ourselves. A priest later explained that particular story to us after we had been to the church. The sacristan, who was from Sri Lanka, was kind enough to give us a bit of time in prayer before we traversed up and up and up the ritzy, exclusive Via Veneto.
I know the Via Veneto well. The pensione where I stayed during my first visit to Rome in October of 1984 was on the Via Marche, right near the Villa Borghese at the top of the Via Veneto. I had walked up the Via Veneto numerous times twenty-one years (and about fifty pounds) ago. The trip up the hill was a bit more challenging this time, especially considering our fatigue and illnesses. The American Embassy, which is located at a bend where the Via Veneto meets the Via Bissolati, was securely guarded by helmeted military personnel. We just continued on our way up and up and up the Via Veneto, turning right onto the Via Sardegna, having to walk another few blocks before arriving at the offices of Air France to see what we could do about our tickets.
The tiny office of Air France and Delta Air Lines required all comers to go through a security screening. I was unprepared for this. The Vatican handled security pretty smoothly. This thing was a nightmare. Coins and keys had to be emptied, annoying the people who were waiting behind me. And once inside we had to wait interminably as an obviously affluent man kept changing his travel plans repeatedly, as in for about forty minutes or so. I was standing quite dutifully to await my turn.
We discovered upon speaking to the Air France agent that we could not change the Czech Airline tickets as we had hoped. We had to keep our plans as they were or make alternate plans for our return to the United States. Truthfully, we would have returned right then and there had not Lucy's beloved cousins been scheduled to arrive from France two days thereafter. Reluctantly, we decided to cancel the trip to Prague, knowing that we would disappoint the great defender of Tradition there, Michal Semin, and the group of people who were expecting to hear me speak. There was really no other decision to make at that time. Our decision was confirmed by subsequent events, including one that happened several hours later. We thus changed our tickets to return to California on May 25, making it possible for us to assist at the Corpus Christi Mass and Procession at Our Lady Help of Christians on May 26.
Our priority after that was to get to Mass at the indult chapel once again, walking back down the Via Veneto and onto the Via del Tritone, which I should have stayed on to get us to the chapel without any detours. I permitted myself to be misled by a sign that directed passersby to the Spanish Steps, finding ourselves on top of the Spanish Steps by the majestic Trinita dei Monti church. "Dada," Lucy said, "you made a mistake. Now you have to carry the stroller down all of those big steps." Indeed. Dada had made a mistake. A BIIIIIIIIG mistake. We had to walk down the Spanish Steps with Penance the Stroller. All to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. And from there we trod the Via Condotti once again to the back alleyway where the indult chapel was located.
Wounding An Innocent Girl's Love of the Prayers after Low Mass
The Mass on Whit-Monday ended most disconcertingly. The Prayers after Low Mass were omitted in their entirety. Lucy was very upset and confused. "How come the priest did this?" she asked in all seriousness. "Why didn't he say the Hail Mary's? Why didn't we pray to Saint Michael?" This is why, my friends, I want to avoid the indult as much as possible: you never know what it is you are going to get. It's really the same problem as in the Novus Ordo: a little bit of this and little bit of that. We had been in the safety of the stability of the catacombs at Our Lady Help of Christians for over four and one-half months before leaving for Rome. Lucy was so used to the beauty and the perfection of how the Mass of the ages is offered in all of its fullness without any of the novelties of Annibale Bugnini and merry band of antiquarian revolutionaries. I was as upset as a father could be, seeing how the pure and innocent soul of my daughter was being harmed by a priest who was evidently so sophisticated that prayers to the Mother of God, added by Pope Pius XI, and to Saint Michael the Archangel, added by Pope Leo XIII after having had a vision during the offering of Holy Mass, could be abandoned without a regard to the sensibilities of the faithful who know that it is right to say these prayers
This is just part of what is wrong with the indult and the mentality that it breeds. A Traditional Catholic must be committed to the restoration of the totality of the Catholic Faith without compromise and without any taint of the errors and novelties of the past forty years. The Traditional Latin Mass expresses most fittingly and perfectly the fullness of the Catholic Faith. We desire the complete and full restoration of the Traditional Latin Mass as normative in the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church precisely because it and it alone contains and communicates the fullest expression of the Catholic Faith. We do not simply want the Mass back. We want Catholicism back. The indult breeds sloth and a contentment with the lie that the Mass of all ages depends upon the "permission" of a pope and/or of diocesan bishops, which it does not.
I was determined not to let our daughter be subjected to such a sorry spectacle as happened at the indult chapel on May 16 again. Even though the Turpins were bringing a priest with them when they arrived in Rome from France via Eurorail on May 18, I wanted to avoid returning to the hodgepodge of this indult chapel. After putting Lucy to bed a few hours later, therefore, I took myself out to the internet shop near the Cipro Metro station and spent two hours there trying to make contact with various people in the United States who knew how to reach a priest in Rome who offered the Traditional Latin Mass. Circumspection requires me not to mention the name of the priest, who did indeed assist us so generously by offering the Mass of the ages for us in his private chapel. However, I wanted to do everything imaginable to avoid returning to the place where my dear daughter's young soul was so offended by the omission of the Prayers after Low Mass. I did not return to the apartment until after 11:00 p.m., shortly before the nightmare of a few horrible hours in the life of young Lucy Mary Norma Droleskey.
A Child's Agonizing Pain
Lucy awoke in writhing pain around 11:30 p.m. on Monday, May 16. A rash that she had had for the better part of our first week in Rome had deteriorated to the point where she was in agonizing pain. "Help me! Help me!" she cried out. Lucy was inconsolable. Nothing helped. Sharon held her in her arms, trying to soothe her as she cried in pain. "Jesus, Mary and Joseph, we love you, save souls!" Sharon whispered over and over again. Poor Lucy was in fearsome agony. We had no telephone in the apartment (as we would have had in a hotel). I had no cash to get a cab to take her to a hospital--and I did not know where the nearest hospital was located All I could think to do was to attempt to make phone calls with a calling card on a pay phone near the apartment on the Via Andrea Doria in the dead of the night to try to find someone in the United States who could recommend some course of action to take to alleviate Lucy's pain.
As I mentioned in the first installment of what is appearing to be a three part series, my once nearly flawless memory is faltering. Little details are slipping away from me whereas they once stayed in my memory bank without any effort. I could not for the life of me think of the name of the cream that had been recommended by a physician in Rockford, Illinois, exactly one year to the day earlier when Lucy had a similar rash and was not getting relief from anything we tried. I could not even remember the phone number of the doctor, and another doctor friend, a surgeon, did not know the name of the cream. I spent a good ninety minutes on the phone trying to contact people before returning to the apartment at around 1:30 a.m. on Tuesday, May 17.
Lucy had gotten to sleep by the time I returned. I was still coughing and wheezing up a storm, deciding to sleep on a couch in the living room so as to not wake Lucy up. I prayed to my Guardian Angel to help me remember the name of that cream that had helped year 365 days earlier. Within seconds--and I mean within seconds, if not shorter--the answer came to me: LOTRIMIN. I even remembered something about the generic name or the active ingredient in Lotrimin (cloro-something or another). I was determined, please Our Lord and His Most Blessed Mother, to find the Italian equivalent of Lotrimin.
Thus, setting out from the apartment around 8:00 a.m., I returned to the internet shop near the Cipro Metro station, finding e-mails from several people who had responded to my queries about contacting a priest to offer the Mass of the ages for us that day, Tuesday, May 17. I telephone the priest, who was most gracious, cordial and charitable. He invited us to have Mass in his apartment around 7:00 p.m. that evening. That was a relief, and I sent messages to those who had helped me to escape from the throes of the indult chapel.
It was then time to go to a Farmacia on the Via Cipro, where a woman spoke a little English. I explained that my daughter had what was most likely a fungal rash. She knew what to get, a tube containing a cream that was called Canasten. I saw the active ingredient (cloro-something or another) in Italian below the brand name. "Si, si!" I exclaimed. "This is it!" Canasten was the Italian equivalent of Lotrimin. My prayers had been answered. I returned home immediately. Lucy was still asleep, having had a very rough night. Sharon administered the cream, which did start to alleviate the rash, which, though, continued to be irritated by the time she spent in Penance the Stroller, which was penitential in more ways than my having to push it on the cobblestones and carry it up and down large numbers of steep stairs.
The Charity of a Kind Priest
Although the pace of our pilgrimage would pick up again quite considerably on Thursday, May 19, as I took the Turpins to no less than six churches and the Coliseum after their arrival in Rome, we decided to give Lucy a bit of rest on Tuesday, May 17. I even got an article done while Lucy was napping in the afternoon. We wanted to make sure that Lucy got some rest before we had to walk the three miles or so to the priest's apartment.
While en route to the priest's apartment for Holy Mass, though, I discovered at an internet shop on the Via Leone IV that my bank account had been frozen because of transactions in Italy. I had informed the bank's security division that we would be in Europe in May. That meant nothing. What little money we had was frozen solid for two straight days until the account could be thawed out, so to speak. I had to telephone the bank to straighten this mess out. More offerings to Our Lady's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart.
We spent some time in Lucy's favorite playground while en route to the priest's apartment: Piazza San Pietro. Oh, she loved to run around and around around in St. Peter's Square, pointing out the windows of Papa Benedetto's apartment in the Apostolic Palace. Little did we realize that we would be drenched to the bone by a Mediterranean rainstorm the next morning while waiting for the Papal Audience to take place. At that moment, though, around 6:00 p.m., on May 17, Lucy Mary Norma Droleskey was having the time of her life running around Saint Peter's Square, having received considerable relief from the administration of Canasten on her rash.
It was a long walk on the Via il Fornaci to the priest's apartment. I made the walk longer than it should have been as I did not know that there was a tunnel than ran under a street to get to the over side of the Via il Fornaci. We walked up a long, long block to another intersection before doubling back to the other side of the street. We did this twice before discovering the tunnel that starts right near Via San Uffizio 11, which is the complex offices that houses, among other things, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei.
As mentioned earlier, the priest who offered Holy Mass for us was most kind and charitable. We were very grateful to him for his kindness and charity, believing that that would be the only time we would need to importune him during the rest of our pilgrimage. After all, Father John Murphy was coming to Rome with the Turpins specifically to offer the Traditional Latin Mass for us. We did not know on the evening of May 17 that Father Murphy, who rarely stays in one place for too long, would decide to abandon the Droleskey-Turpin ship and take off for Ireland two days after he got to Rome! Thus, we would be back at that kind priest's apartment another three times before we returned to the United States. We certainly got our exercise in Rome.
The walk back to the apartment took about an hour. Lucy ran around once again in Saint Peter's Square, marveling at how it looked all lit up at night. We once again hugged the Vatican Wall as we walked back to the rented apartment, exhausted from yet another day of rest. Although it would have been nice to sleep in on Wednesday, May 18, we planned after returning to the apartment to arise early in order to get to the Papal Audience. Understand him or not, Pope Benedict XVI is the Vicar of Christ. I wanted my daughter to see him once again and to receive, finally, her Papal Blessing, which carries with it a Plenary Indulgence.
The next-and final--installment of this travelogue will detail the events of our last full week in Rome, including seeing some incredible treasures that I had missed on my five previous pilgrimages to the Holy See. Look for its publication in about a week, around the time of the Feast of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist. There's a lot of administrative work to attend to in the meantime.
Our Lady, Queen of Martyrs, pray for us.
Saints Peter and Paul, pray for us.
All of the holy Martyrs of Rome, pray for us.
Pope Benedict XVI on the Via della Conciliazione, May 13, 2005 (photographs taken by Sharon Droleskey)
There he goes. Lots of waves. No blessings.
Saint Peter's, the evening of May 13, 2005
A view of Rome from the Villa Borghese, May 14, 2005