Madri Pie, Rome - 27 June 2010
Every trip, there is always something you forget. The telltale prickle on my arms when I woke up says that this trip, that item was sunscreen. I should find a farmacia sometime this morning, before I get sunburnt.
Breakfast this morning was a simple but tasty affair. The nuns presented a spread of breads, fruit, cereal, and sliced meats and cheeses. And coffee - Italian coffee is quite strong, especially by American standards. I still had two cups, which should keep me awake well into the night.
Today was a tour of early Christan churches in Rome. Our first stop was the Church of the Holy Cross (Santa Croce in Gerusalemme), but Mass was still going on when we arrived, so we went to the Holy Steps (Santa Scala). Santa Scala is a shrine right near St. John Lateran, consisting of three staircases in parallel leading up to a view of a room with a reliquary. The center stair is held by tradition to be 28 steps of Pilate's praetorium climbed by Jesus during his trial. The staircase was brought to Rome by St. Helena (Constantine's mom). Pilgrims climb this center stair on their knees in prayer. We didn't have the time, however, so we looked at the relic area from the side staircase.
After Santa Scala, we went back to Santa Croce, where Mass was just ending. This was one of the earliest churches in Rome, built to house the pieces of the True Cross brought back by the aforementioned St. Helen. There are still a few pieces housed here, along with other relics such as the sign that hung over Jesus at the crucifixion, and the finger of Thomas the Apostle.
The nave of Santa Croce was richly decorated, with mosaics of various biblical stories, and the story of St. Helen finding the True Cross and bringing it back. She was 80 when she made the trip to Jerusalem, so she was one tough lady!
(Since my pictures didn't turn out well, there are some lovely pics of Santa Croce here. Not quite as lucky finding a good site for Santa Scala pics...)