Yesterday I did the European equivalent of the NFL. I went a soccer match and watched Lazio (Romehas two teams, Lazio and Roma, both of whom, and their fans, despise one another) defeat Siena 2-1. Both of the Roman teams play their home games at Stadio Olimpico, which is part of the Olympic Village which was built for the 1960 Olympics and seats 72,000 fans. Unfortunately, it rained for almost the entire game; fortunately, our seats were under the roof.
Never having seriously played soccer, I can’t really appreciate a lot of the strategy or finer parts of the game. Nevertheless, the afternoon was pure, good fun. Looking at the Lazio and Roma schedules, it doesn’t look like I will be able to take in a second game. Lazio, not Roma, by the way, is my team.
Saturday I finally got down to Naples. I have been there a few times before on cruise ships, but this was my first chance to really explore the city. I have always been told that the train station is a dark, scary place, full of pickpockets (more so than even the station here in Rome!) and other bad guys. Not so! It was clean, modern and well patrolled by the Neapolitan police. That having been said, I had my hand on my billfold at all times.
While I was down there, I did get to the cathedral where what is supposed to be the dried blood of St. Januarius is secured and venerated. Unhappily, I was not able to see the two vials that contain these relics. I was told that they are in back of the altar in a side chapel and outside the access of visitors. Much more meaningful, for me at least, was a reproduction of a twelfth century painting of the crucifixion in the Church of San Domenico Maggiore. St. Thomas, who was born in Naples, often prayed before the original of that painting. That was a good time and place to pray and ask our patron to pray for all of us.
Speaking of St. Thomas, I have for some reason always thought he is buried in Lyons. Yesterday, however, I learned that he is buried in Milan at the Church o fSan Eustorgio. I wish I had known that nine days ago when I was in Milan and I visited San Eustorgio. The only tomb there that my guide book mentioned was that of San Eustorgio, and if there was anything in the church that called my attention to the tomb of St. Thomas, I sure didn’t see it. But, then, again, I wasn’t looking for anything to that effect either.
Friday we all concelebrated mass at the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran, the cathedral church of Rome. (St. Peter’s is the international headquarters church.) The church goes back to the reign of Constantine, the popes lived there for over a thousand years and five ecumenical councils took place at St. John Lateran. I think it’s fair to say that St. John Lateran holds more of our Catholic history and identity than St. Peter’s.
Last week we were given an excellent series of lectures on St. Paul by Fr. Scott Brodeur, SJ, who teaches here at the Gregorian University. I have always thought that I have a pretty good handle on Paul, but I was amazed at how much I learned through Fr. Brodeur’s presentations. The time was well spent.