Our Pilgrimage to Italy, Part II: Roma

by | Apr 16, 2013 | Italy, Pilgrimage, Pope Francis, Travel, Travel With Kids, What I Wore Sunday | 6 comments

This is the second in a series of posts on our family trip to Italy.  If you missed it, the first is here.



Well, first thing after we arrived in Rome and checked in to our apartment near the Vatican, we had to head straight for St. Peter’s Square.  We’ve been there before, of course, but it never gets old.  There is something really magical about being surrounded by Catholics from all over the world, who have all felt drawn to this sacred place of deep history and tradition.  And it’s sooooooo pretty!




And we needed pizza and gelato of course!


But before we could do all that, we had to GET to Rome.  We departed Los Angeles on Thursday afternoon and arrived in London sometime after that (it all gets a little fuzzy).
The new Easter squinkies were a big hit.


As were the seat back movies.
There were dozens of choices, but every one of my kids watched Wreck It Ralph (for the second time in a week).
And Frankie was pretty good (even if he was sporting his trademark scowl).  Mostly what he wants is for me to hold him all the time, and on the plane I’m a captive audience!  And the husband was a real champ getting him to sleep.
Then in London we had to clear security again.  Betty (9) unknowingly attempted to smuggle a tiny bottle of water from one British Air airplane to another British Air airplane, so, you know, the whole world had to stop and we almost missed our flight to Rome.  But they held it for us (thank you St. Nuno) and we made it!
But, alas, our luggage did not.
That was kind of a blessing in disguise though, since we didn’t have to get all our own stuff across town.  Our suitcases were delivered late that night and the car seats came the night before we left on the driving leg of the trip.  So, it all worked out somehow!
On Saturday, after some early morning disappointment, we got to tour some of the most beautiful churches in the world.
Including, but not limited to, St. Peter’s Basilica:



Sant’Anna dei Palafrenieri, also in Vatican City:

And the Basilica of Sant’Agostino, home to a beautiful Caravaggio painting, the tomb of St. Monica, and the Madonna del Parto (Our Lady of Childbirth).  People pray for her intercession to overcome infertility issues, then leave the most beautiful handmade tokens of gratitude when their prayers are answered.  We lit candles for those of you who asked us to pray for this particular issue, so if any babies come your way, you’ll know who to thank (I mean her, not me, of course!).

Then we headed to Our Lady of Peace Church, home of the tomb of St. Josemaria for Mass and a tour of St. Josemaria’s personal effects.  We happened to be there at the time of an audience with Bishop Echevarría Rodríguez, which was pretty cool.
Frankie kissing the tomb.
I love getting to see the relics of modern saints.  It really drives home the point of how much the life of a saint is like our own lives.
St. Josemaria’s trademark glasses.


And his pajamas!
Then things took a different turn.  We visited the Capuchin Crypt.  When the monks arrived at their new church in 1631, they brought with them 300 cartloads of the remains of fellow monks, and had no where to bury them.  As this was before cremation was permitted, they decided to get creative with the remains, using the bones of monks who died between 1528 and 1870 to create intricate patterns.  It’s an enthusiastic display of their motto: 
What you are now we used to be; what we are now you will be…


The kids weren’t bothered by it at all, but my dad was pretty uncomfortable with the whole thing.  He kept making his traditional burial wishes known to all present, in case we might have decided to take inspiration from the monks and get creative.
I ended up feeling like it was fine for the Capuchins to have done, and they had permission to do it, but I’m not sure I feel like we all should have been gawking at it carnival side-show style.  That said, the monks have put together a museum exhibit on the history of their order that you walk through before arriving at the crypt that was really beautifully done and very orthodox and inspiring.  Here’s hoping that some folks who come just for the novelty pay enough attention to the exhibit to learn a little something.
That night we had some IRL fun with Jenny from Mama Needs Coffee (which you can read about here, because Jenny is awesome and already wrote it up!) and her adorable family.  Seven adults and eight kids in the back corner of an Italian restaurant for three hours because — Italy.  And we had multiple people push through the crowds to tell us how awesome it was that we had so many kids!  It was a great time.  If you’re ever in Rome, be sure to drop Jenny a line, she’ll have conquered Italian shopping and laundry by then and can give you some tips.
Sunday was Papa Francesco day!  First we went to a packed St. Peter’s Square for the Regina Caeli and an inspirational speech by Papa Francesco in Italiano (I prayed that the Holy Spirit would just put it on my heart, so I’m pretty sure I got it).
And in celebrity news, I totally spotted LA Archbishop Gomez in the crowd (because I’m Facebook friends with him!) and we got to visit with him for a bit.  (We must have taken the photo with my dad’s camera.)
Then we made a quick stop by Castle Sant’Angelo, which is noteworthy as a building with significance to both Ancient Rome and Christendom, and offers perhaps the best view of the Vatican in all of Rome:


Hey, I didn’t do What I Wore Sunday because I didn’t think there was a picture of me, but here I am!  (Okay, hat and shoes: Target, middle: Anthropologie.  There, done.)
There was a special exhibit of art related to St. Peter which we really enjoyed. My favorite piece was The disciples Peter and John came
running to the tomb on the morning of the Resurrection
, 1898. It’s by Eugène
Burnand and normally hangs in the Musée d’Orsay in Paris.
The expressions on their faces are so touching.
Finally we went to St. John Lateran for Pope Francis’ installation Mass:
And a lovely dinner afterwards:
And a scenic but chilly wait for a bus that never came (we finally took a taxi):
Why yes, that IS the coliseum in the background!
The next day was Bobby’s First Communion, then we loaded up and headed out of town . . . or did we?  Can the husband drive a nine passenger van full of ten people?  Can the father navigate out of Rome without GPS OR a map?  Can I keep myself from piping up with all my helpful suggestions for this situation?
Check back on Thursday for how the trip ends and photos from Sorrento, San Giovanni Rotundo, Capri, and Pompeii if we ever got there.
And thanks to the ladies at Fine Linen and Purple 
for hosting What I Wore Sunday!


  1. Chris

    What a marvelous photo- journal of your trip…I have GOT to get back here to look more thoroughly…. Thank you for sharing.
    Congrats to your cutie on his FHC!

  2. Stacey

    Beautiful pics! I love your hat! What a blessing to be in Rome!

  3. Jennifer

    I have so very much enjoyed reading about your travels! My husband and I dream of one day being able to get our brood to Italy – although that trip is a long way off, reading your posts and seeing your pictures inspire me to keep dreaming. Thanks so much for sharing.

  4. Jeremiah 29:11

    We prayed at the statue in March 2010 and adopted our son in May 2010 (we also visited Lourdes that trip.) A miracle from Our Lady! 🙂

  5. Maria Ashton

    Kendra, your children are so adorable it hurts.
    On another note, I love the painting of John and Peter, wow.

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Hi! I’m Kendra.

For twenty years now, I’ve been using food, prayer, and conversation based around the liturgical calendar to share the lives of the saints and the beautiful truths and traditions of our Catholic faith. My own ten children, our friends and neighbors, and people just like you have been on this journey with me.

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