When In Rome: "Arrived!"
Following Catholic Charities staff member Lynn Grandon as she travels to Rome, Italy for the April 27 canonization of Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII.
Lynn and her husband are leading a group of approximately 30 pilgrims from throughout the United States in a whirlwind itinerary.
Beyond the April 27 ceremonies, their group will explore the sights and sounds of Rome and Vatican City.
This was an amazing time as we all gathered at the gate together to meet people from a number of states.
What a sense of joy!
We even had 3 people from our former parish in Illinois where we served before moving to Denver.
We all flew to Dulles in Washington D.C. for a 3 hour layover. Entering the plane we immediately saw Archbishop Wuerl from D.C. who greeted my husband!
And when we reached our seats we saw, two seats in front of us, Raymond Arroyo from EWTN’s Catholic TV Network – how fun is that?! After our dinner, we tried very hard to get some rest, as we knew we had a full day of nonstop activity upon our arrival.
But I must show you the incredible sight out my window when we were awakened in a few hours as it was morning in Europe.
These are the Alps in the morning sun – you could hear everyone gasping and taking pictures throughout the plane – what a blessing to awaken to such a breath-taking display of God’s power in creation.
Upon landing, we had some challenges with personal belongings of some of our pilgrims, which caused our schedule to be delayed – already an opportunity to be gracious and patient as a witness to our faith and lifestyle.
We stopped at the hotel to pick up the rest of our group, a number of people from Hawaii!
Then, on to Roma! Our first stop: a gigantic church – St. Pauls Outside the Walls.
This is where the tomb of St. Paul is located. We were able to have our first Mass in the morning in a side chapel dedicated to St. Stephen, the first and young martyr.
There was an incredible statue behind the altar which had Stephen’s right foot placed on a pile of stones (he was stoned to death) – it was hard to hold back the tears.
What an honor to see such a magnificent church erected to honor the man who brought the Gospel to the Gentile world – which included our ancestors.
It was profound to realize that St. Paul was originally Saul – who stood and held people’s coats while they stoned Stephen to death.
This same man had such a dramatic conversion that he, too, died for the same Christ, who rose from His throne in Heaven and stood up to welcome Stephen to Heaven as the first martyr.
Stephen was able to see that scene while still alive, and told everyone around him before he was stoned.
What kind of impact must that have had on Saul?!
And here they both are, honored centuries later for their great faith.
The scend really reminds me of a small plaque that hung in my childhood home, “Only one life, ‘twill soon be past – Only what’s done for Christ will last.”