Rome 2013 Photo Album
Greetings dear Family of Faith of the Diocese of Kalamazoo from the Eternal City of Rome! Peace and Joy in the Good News of the Risen Christ!
This first "day" of this Pilgrimage to Rome has lasted more than 24 hours and has traversed more than 4,000 aeronautical miles. We arrived here in Rome at 9:30 a.m. Rome time (3:30 a.m. Kalamazoo time) at the end of a three-flight uneventful trip. It was interesting who all we ran into just on the trip itself. We saw Fr. David Otto (St. Mary Parish, Niles) at the Detroit Airport. We met a priest from Nigeria in the Amsterdam airport who is from and knows very well Fr. Ignatius (St. Thomas More Parish), and we had many people----total strangers----come up to initiate conversations about how great they think Pope Francis is. So, it was a wonderful trip.
Fr. Ted Martin met us at the Rome airport to bring us back to our "home" for the next week here at the Casa Santa Maria House for priests from North America doing graduate studies in Rome. We got cleaned up, had a delicious "pronto"(lunch), and then had a brief repose (nap). We then celebrated Mass and prayed Evening Prayer together, and then had a great visit with good conversation over some genuine Italian pasta.
I look forward to getting to visit with Deacon Tom McNally and Msgr. Osborn tomorrow after a good night's sleep.
Greetings from beautiful Rome on the second day of my pilgrimage. After a great night's sleep, I awoke to another beautiful day.
The weather here in Rome is quite spring-like: blue skies, light breeze and temps in the low 60's; perfect for all the walking that one does while in this city that is ancient and yet new. Mike Emmons, our Diocesan Chancellor and my traveling companion on this journey, and i joined Father Ted for a nice breakfast here at the Casa Santa Maria, and then headed out for what has turned out to be a very full and wonderful day. We first stopped at the Basilica of Sts. Philip and James, two of the apostles whose bodies are buried in that beautiful church. As a Successor to the Apostles, I was thrilled to pray at both their tombs, including the intentions of all the Faithful of the Diocese of Kalamazoo. Our next visit was to the Church simply known as "the Jesu", that is, the Church of Jesus, which is the main church in Rome and home for many members of the Jesuit community. The bodies of St. Ignatius of Loyola (the founder of the Jesuits) and St. Francis Xavier ( one of the greatest Jesuit missionaries to live) are both buried there, and once again I was so grateful to be able to pray at their tombs----especially in light of the fact that our new Holy Father, Pope Francis, is a member of the Jesuit religious community. We then went to St. Peter Basilica and met up with Deacon Tom McNally, as well as two friends from Pittsburgh, Deacon Rick Cessar and his wife Sandra. We were privileged to celebrate a late morning Mass at one of the Altars (the altar of St. Columban) in the "Confessio", the floor below the main floor of the Basilica, where many of the former Popes are buried and near to the Bones of St. Peter himself. It was a grace-filled experience. I offered that Mass for the intentions of all the priests, religious and lay faithful of the Diocese of Kalamazoo.
Following the Mass, I visited the Generalate of the Jesuits to look into a diocesan matter. After a delicious "pronzo" (lunch----some very nice pasta) and a bit of "reposo" (rest), I was finally able to meet up with Msgr. Osborn. We had a great visit, and all of us were able to share a delicious dinner, and guess what we had: pasta!
So, as you can see, Day 2 was a full and wonderful day. Be assured of my continued prayerful remembrance of all of you, our dear Family of Faith in the Diocese of Kalamazoo and all my family and friends.
This third day in Rome, the first Friday of the month and the Friday within the great Easter Octave, began very early and with a little spring rain. There were rumors circulating that the Holy Father, Pope Francis, was once more welcoming visiting Bishops (and others) to concelebrate his 7:00 a.m. Mass with him in the Domus Sanctae Marthae where the Holy Father continues to reside. So, Fr. Ted, Mike and I decided to show up and hope for the best. We arrived at St. Peter's at 6:45, and were waved through the first two check-points by the police. We were very excited to get to the Domus where a small crowd of 50 or 60 people were waiting to go in for Mass. However, after being saluted by the Swiss Guard and scrutinized by the Security team, we were told that unfortunately we could not be admitted. "So near, yet so far."
We did, however, have the great privilege of celebrating Mass in St. Peter Basilica's crypt, and a beautiful family from Birmingham, England joined us for that special Mass. As I completed the Mass, and was walking back to the Sacristy, past each of the many side altars where priests were celebrating Mass in various languages and even in different Rites, I was struck by the richness and "catholicity" of our Catholic Church. We are truly a world-wide faith "from every language and every people on the face of the earth". What a blessing it is for us to be Catholics.
Following Mass, we returned to the Casa Santa Maria.
This afternoon, Mike, Fr. Ted, Deacon Tom and I have come by train (2 1/2 hour trip) to the medieval and holy city of Assisi, the home of St. Francis and St. Clare. Assisi is known as "the City of Peace." There is something so special about being here. The buildings, built on the side and top of a hill, date back to the 1200's and earlier. There is a serenity and calm in the air here; it truly is like being in "another world." We are staying at the St. Anthony's Guest House run by the Franciscan Sisters of the Atonement. It is beautiful, simple and prayerful here. I very much look forward to tomorrow as a Day of Prayer before returning to Rome tomorrow evening.
May the "spirit of St. Francis" fill your hearts with peace, and know that you are all in my daily prayers.
Until tomorrow, Peace be with you!
Peace be with you!
That greeting has a whole new meaning having spent this past "day" in Assisi, the home of St. Francis. For those of you who are familiar with Assisi, you will readily understand when I say that Assisi is a place like no other that I have been. For those of you who have never been to Assisi, it is like visiting a different world, in a different time. Nestled in the Umbrian hills of central Italy, Assisi is a medieval city built on a mountainside which oversees the valley below for as far as the eye can see. The buildings all date back to the late 1100's/early 1200s, the time of St. Francis and St. Clare (founder of the "Poor Clares"). The streets are narrow and made of cobblestone, winding up and down the slopes of the hillside. There are beautiful shops of mostly religious articles everywhere you look, mixed in with apartments, family dwellings, guest houses, hotels, restaurants. Of course, now, there are posters and images everywhere of Pope Francis whom Assisi has adopted as their own. In fact they are frantically preparing for his visit which is rumored to be taking place in late April.
The two main structures there are the Basilica of St. Clare and the Basilica of St. Francis, each housing the earthly remains of their beloved patron saints. There is just a different atmosphere in the air in Assisi; there is a calm, a serenity, a certain sense that "all is right with the world" as one walks up and down those narrow streets. Deacon Tom, Father Ted, Mike Emmons and I, having enjoyed our evening and a good night's sleep in the St. Anthony's Guest House, began our day today with an early morning walk to the Basilica of St.Francis (20 minute walk) where we were privileged to celebrate Mass at the very tomb of St. Francis. It was an experience beyond words; to be able to celebrate Mass, on Easter Saturday in that most holy place was truly a great spiritual gift. Once again, I offered that Mass for all the Faithful of the Diocese of Kalamazoo.
Following Mass, we returned to the Guest House for a little breakfast, followed by casual window-shopping throughout the city. We also visited the Basilica of St.Clare, and saw the original Cross of San Damiano. We also visited the home where St Francis was born and raised until he turned his back on his family's wealth and began pursuing his religious life. In mid-afternoon, it was time to catch our train back to Rome.
As I conclude this 4th Day back at the Casa Santa Maria in Rome, I realize that Assisi truly is the "City of Peace". I pray that the Peace of the Risen Christ, through the inspiration of St. Francis and St. Clare, truly fills your hearts this evening.
Greetings dear Family of Faith from the center of our Faith here in Rome. This Sunday within the Octave of Easter, also known as "Divine Mercy Sunday," all of us have had the great joy of coming together to celebrate our Faith in the best way we have available to us: through the celebration of the Eucharist. It is in the Eucharist that we find our unity, our oneness, in the Real Presence of the Risen Lord in His revealed Word and in His Body and Blood given for us as our spiritual Food and Drink. As I celebrated Mass here in Rome, and as you celebrated Mass in your parish churches, we were one with each other, and with The Lord, in the celebration of our Faith. That's what makes this Sunday, and every Sunday, so special, and why each of us needs to----is obliged to----make our Sunday (Saturday evening) revolve around the privilege of coming together for Mass.
As my reflection for today, I would like to share with you the extra special blessing it was for me, and I hope that through my prayers it also became a blessing for you, the two extraordinary experiences I had celebrating Mass today.
The first Mass was such a special blessing because I, joined by Fr. Ted, Deacon Tom and Chancellor Emmons, were privileged to celebrate Mass at the Clementine Chapel, which is in the Crypt of St. Peter's Basilica, and right at the very tomb where St. Peter is buried. That is a rare privilege, and I know that each of us were thrilled to be able to have this spiritual experience. I offered this Mass "Pro Populo," that is, for All the People---the Lay Faithful, Religious and Clergy, living and deceased, of the Diocese of Kalamazoo. Our Deacon Tom McNally preached a beautiful homily for us on Divine Mercy and the power of the Resurrection to dispel doubt and strengthen faith. There is an extra special sense of awe and the reality of our Catholic Faith being so close to the earthly remains of the first Pope and Vicar of Christ.
Following Mass, the four of us got another rare privilege: we were allowed to walk through the Vatican Gardens which is a large expanse of beautiful walking paths, lined with trees which are beginning to flower and awesome scenery. Because the weather was a perfect April Spring day, moderate temperatures and a cool breeze, it seemed a lot like what it might be like to stroll the Gardens some day in Heaven.
The second Mass was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Today just happened to be the day when the Holy Father, as Bishop of the Diocese of Rome, was liturgically "taking possession of" his Cathedral Church, which as you probably know is not St. Peter's Basilica, but rather the Basilica of St. John Lateran. And so I had the great privilege of being able to sit with the other 25 bishops and 15 Cardinals who were present for this very special moment, along with the hundreds of priests from the Diocese of Rome and thousands and thousands of people who filled that gorgeous Basilica as well as overflowed into the Piazza outside.
My seat in the sanctuary could not have been more than 90 feet away from where Pope Francis was presiding over the Mass. While I did not get the opportunity to greet him personally (I hope to do so after the General Audience on Wednesday of this week), it was so overwhelming to be so close to him for this special Mass. Pope Francis has clearly captured the hearts of all the people of Rome. Everyone from taxi cab drivers to waiters/waitresses to vendors on the street "light up" and cheer for "Papa Francesco." I am so very much looking forward to greeting him and extending to him the good wishes and prayers of all the Faithful of the Diocese of Kalamazoo.
We sometimes refer to this special Sunday within the Octave of Easter as the Sunday of Peace. In the Gospel for today's Mass, the Risen Jesus greets His apostles on two separate visits to them in the Upper Room with that message of Good News: "Peace be with you!" And He tells them: "Do not be afraid!" As Pope Francis said so beautifully in his homily this evening, our God loves us so much, and is so patient with us, waiting and longing for us, as the Risen Jesus did for Thomas, to dispel our doubts and embrace Him in faith----the faith that binds us as one, the faith that we celebrate at every Mass, the faith that, with God's grace, we live and put into practice, every day of our lives.
Peace be with you! + Bishop Bradley
'"Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum...." On this April 8, 2013, we get to celebrate the transferred Solemnity of the Feast of the Annunciation when the Angel Gabriel said those words to our dear Blessed Mother for the first time: "Hail Mary, full of grace, The Lord is with you." Since I am staying here at the Casa Santa Maria (the House of Mary), it was very appropriate that Fr. Ted, Mike Emmons and I had the joy of celebrating Mass on this great Feast here at the "Casa" in the Chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Humility early this morning. Since this is the week when the universities return to regular classes following the Easter break, both Fr. Ted and Deacon Tom's classes resumed today. Mike Emmons accompanied me to the Vatican following Mass for a pastoral visit to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, followed by a visit to the North American College above the Vatican for a meeting with the Rector, Msgr. Checchio, and an opportunity for an official pre-ordination visit with Deacon Tom following Lunch.
Later this afternoon, Msgr. Osborn, Mike and I made a visit to another one of the four major basilicas here in Rome, St. Mary Major Basilica. The other major Basilicas are: St. John Lateran, St. Paul Outside the Walls, and of course, St. Peter Basilica. St. Mary Major Basilica is one of the oldest churches in Christendom, dating back to the third century. It is the burial place of St. Matthias, one of the Twelve, as well as the burial place for St. Jerome. It is one of my most favorite places to visit for prayer and to celebrate the Sacrament of Penance while in Rome---always an atmosphere of prayer and devotion in that holy place.
The evening concluded with a wonderful dinner with the whole Kalamazoo contingent: Mike Emmons, Deacon Tom, Father Ted, Msgr. Osborn, and myself, and we toasted all the priests, religious and lay faithful of our great Diocese of Kalamazoo.
Blessings to all. + Bishop Bradley
Dear Family of Faith,
We know that in the Creation Accounts, "on the seventh day, God rested from all His labors....". Today was a little bit of that "rest" in the sense that there were no formal meetings to attend or other scheduled activities. Deacon Tom and Father Ted were dutifully attending their classes, and Msgr. Osborn was hard at work at the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. So, Sir Michael Emmons and I set out on our own, bright and early, to explore and visit the parts of Rome we had not yet had a chance to visit.
From the Casa Santa Maria where we are staying, getting to the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls is not easy because....well, it's "outside the walls" of the City of Rome. So we took a taxi, then transferred to the Metro----Rome's version of the Subway. During that leg of the trip, we were serenaded by a traveling violinist and vocalist right on the subway; we were pursued by a very persistent beggar, and my pocket was nearly picked by a rather young (12 year old) would-be pick-pocket. Arriving at our stop, we walked the rest of the way to the great Basilica of my namesake, St. Paul.
We had arranged to celebrate Mass at one of the side altars, and we were greeted by the Saristan, a Benedictine Priest, who just happens to have been born and raised in Pittsburgh, and knew of me from his family who still lives there and had grown up in the parish where now-Cardinal DiNardo had served his first assignment as a young Pittsburgh priest. Talk about a "small world". We had the privilege of celebrating Mass at the Altar of St. Benedict, another one of my favorite Saints.
Following Mass, we got to pray at the tomb of St. Paul and tour the massive Basilica (which seats 12,000 people). We learned that Pope Francis is coming there to St. Paul's this Sunday to celebrate Mass, which explained why there were workmen everywhere setting up risers, and landscaping the beautiful outside grounds in preparation for the Holy Father's first visit there.
Our trip back to the Casa Santa Maria took a bit longer as we took the subway half-way there, and then walked the remainder of the way to the Casa (about 1 1/2 miles).
In the later afternoon (after a little "reposo"), we met up with Father Ted and later on with Msgr. Osborn. We visited a number of beautiful churches, including Saint Ignatius (where St. Robert Bellarmine and St. John Berchmans are buried), San Luigi di Francesi (St. Louis of France) where the world famous "Call of St. Matthew" painting by Cervaggio is found), and Santa Maria Sopra Minerva (St. Mary above the Minerva Square) where the body of St. Catherine of Siena is buried. At that holy place, we all knelt in prayer, praying not only for the Faithful of St. Catherine of Siena Parish, but for all the Faithful (priests and laity) of all the parishes of our Diocese, and in particular for an increase in vocations to the priesthood and religious life to be raised up from those parishes. Finally, we visited the world famous Pantheon (which in the 7th century became known as Our Lady Queen of Martyrs) dating back to 137 B.C.
While we were visiting these churches, we just happened to run into Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the Cardinal/Archbishop of Washington, and formerly my "boss" when we were both in Pittsburgh, who had just arrived in Rome for some meetings at the Vatican. It was so good to see him and catch up for a few brief minutes. Deacon Tom was unable to join us due to some obligatory events taking place at the North American College. Our evening ended with a very nice, leisurely dinner and a wonderful chance to discuss many important topics.
All in all, it was a great, inspiring and enriching day----a day of "spiritual rest". I excitedly look forward to tomorrow, the day of the General Audience with our Holy Father and the day when I hope to meet him and present him with the Spiritual Bouquet on behalf of all the Faithful of our Diocese.
In the Joy of the Risen Christ, + Bishop Bradley
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
Well, as we know, "all good things must come to an end", and so this wonderful pilgrimage has now been completed. And what a wonderful way to end it. As the saying goes, I think we "saved the best for last".
The day began bright and early with another gorgeous, pleasant, April/Spring day. Fr. Ted, Mike Emmons and I tried to celebrate Mass in the Church of St. Augustine, so that we could feel the connection with the beloved Mother Church of our Diocese; however, the timing wasn't right. At least we were able to visit the Church, which is also the burial place of St. Monica, the mother of St. Augustine. I knelt at St. Monica's tomb and prayed for all the parishioners of St. Monica Parish, St. Augustine Cathedral Parish, and by extension, all the parishioners of all the parishes of our Diocese. We were able to celebrate Mass at Sancta Sophia, the University where Fr. Ted is taking his Canon Law Graduate Studies, which is just around the corner form St. Augustine Church. So I was very pleased that I got to see where Fr. Ted's advanced education is taking place.
After Mass, and a quick cup of coffee and roll, we made our way to St. Peter's Basilica for the 10:30 a.m. General Audience. We arrived at 9:30, and the Square was already more than half full. I was able to enter through a separate gate and was privileged to be seated with about 25 other Bishops and Cardinals from various places around the world who were present for this Audience. There is an absolutely festive mood as the hundreds of thousands of people excitedly looked forward to Pope Francis' arrival. A little after 10:00, the "PopeMobile" arrived and made its way through the vast throngs of people, periodically stopping so that the Holy Father could get out to see a particular person/persons. Finally he was brought to the stage area where I and the other Bishops were seated, and he gave us all a big smile and wave. Then the Audience began with prayer, and a Scripture passage from the Letter of St. Peter which was proclaimed in multiple languages, including French, English, German, Polish, Spanish, Indian and of course Italian.
The Holy Father's message was about God's unconditional Love and the fact that we never run out of chances to return to The Lord to be one with Him in Love. It was quite beautiful. [read full text here.] Following his message, the Holy Father gave a Blessing which was intended for all religious articles and all those pilgrims who were there, as well as the loved ones and those for whom they were praying back home. So, by extension, you all shared in that blessing given by the Holy Father. Then each Bishop had an opportunity to personally greet the Pope. As it turned out, I was the next to the last Bishop to do so, and yet, when we met, the Pope gave me his full attention. He has a wonderful smile and he simply radiates joy and inner contentment. I told him who I was and how overjoyed I was to personally greet him and assure him of my obedience and unity, and how thrilled we all are that the Holy Spirit had chosen him to be the Vicar of Christ on earth. I told him I was so pleased to be speaking on behalf of all the Catholics in the Diocese of Kalamazoo, and I presented him with the Spiritual Bouquet on behalf of so many people and priests of our Diocese. He was very pleased with that special gift. Finally I showed him the Icon of St. Francis which one of our very own, Jeanette Aleo, painted in honor of Pope Francis, and which we intend to hang in a prominent place of honor. When he saw it, his eyes lit up as he blessed it, and I know he was very pleased with that as well. (To read Bishop Bradley’s complete message to Pope Francis click here.).
When the Audience was over, the Pope was taken away in the PopeMobile and once again travelled through the crowds, waving and blessing and occasionally stopping. We stayed over on the side where we knew the Pope would travel at the end to return to his residence. This was a long stretch approximately 100 yards long, along which were lined up, side by side, at least 250 people with special needs or disabilities of various sorts who were confined to wheelchairs, along with some of their immediate family and caretakers. When the PopeMobile got to them, the Holy Father got out, and went to each and every person along those 100 yards, giving each of them his absolute attention with a pat on the head, a kiss on the cheek, and a big smile and blessing. That had to have taken close to 30 minutes. He was very deliberate, and oh, so pastoral---so Christ-like.
Dear Family of Faith, I saw with my own eyes today, on this final day of this pilgrimage to the Eternal City, that our Holy Father is indeed "holy" and a true "father" to all of us, the sons and daughters of God, and brothers and sisters in Christ. We are truly blessed! The Church is truly blessed! The world is truly blessed with his spiritual and pastoral leadership with the simplicity of St. Francis, and the heroic, sacrificial, and servant love of Christ Himself.
The rest of the day was spent doing a bit more touring. Msgr. Osborn took me on my own personal tour of San Clemente, the oldest church in Rome---even older than St. Peter's. It was quite fascinating, as only Msgr. Osborn could make it. This evening all of us----Msgr. Osborn, Father Ted, Deacon Tom, Michael Emmons and myself----enjoyed our final meal together in a very Italian restaurant. We toasted the Holy Father; we toasted the Church, and we toasted the priests, religious and lay faithful of the Diocese of Kalamazoo.
We will leave early tomorrow morning, following the celebration of Mass here at the Casa Santa Maria, to begin our journey to bring us back home. Thank you all for your prayers and for sharing in this pilgrimage by reading these daily "Reflections.” May God bless you and keep you in His loving care.
+ Bishop Bradley