For thirty Christendom College juniors, fall semester 2002 will probably be the one semester they will recall the most when people ask them about their time spent at Christendom. Being the first Christendom students to take part in the newly initiated Semester in Rome Program, they will have the first of many stories and adventures about their time studying in the Eternal City.
Throughout the week, the students spend each morning, from 8:15 a.m. to noon, in class. They are taking Christendom’s core curriculum classes of theology, philosophy, and English literature, and are studying art and architecture and Italian as electives. When not in class or in the study hall, the students are able to take advantage of their surroundings and immerse themselves into the vast depths of the history and culture of Italy.
Under the leadership of the Director of the Christendom in Rome Program, Rev. Anthony Mastroeni, the students visited the tomb of St. Maria Goretti; took a trip to the Gothic Basilica in the town of Orvieto; had a tour of the Abbey of Montecassino which was founded by St. Benedict in 529; and took a trip to Santa Maria della Concezione, fittingly called the “Bone Church,” on the feast of All Souls (The Capuchins have a cemetery in the crypt of their church with is decorated with bones of faithfully departed).
Additionally, the Christendom community was able to attend the canonization of Jose Maria Escriva; hear Mass at the Basilica of St. John Lateran on the special feast of the Dedication of St. John Lateran; and visit the Gesu and the rooms of Raphael in the Vatican Museum and receive a guided tour of the premises by well-known art historian and expert, Dr. Breda Innis.
From October 14-20, the Rome Program moved to Florence. While there, the students were given the opportunity to visit the nearby Baptistery of St John the Baptist; see the Basilica of San Lorenzo; take a tour of the Cathedral of Florence; visit the Basilica of Santa Croce; spend a morning at Florence’s best art museum – the Uffizi; and visit the monastery of San Marco which houses the incorrupt body of St. Antoninus. Also, the students were able to spend time in Siena – where they saw the head of St. Catherine of Siena – and Assisi.
As is the nature of Christendom students, they have formed a choir, under the direction of student Dominic Luckey. They have already sung at a number of Masses in Rome, including one celebrated by Bishop Robert Morlino of Helena, MT, in the Crypt of St. Peter’s. Fr. Mastroeni has even written to the Vatican in the hope of having the Christendom choir sing at one of the Pope’s private Masses.
On a number of different occasions, the students have been given extended weekends to that they might travel to some of the surrounding cities or even countries. One student was able to visit her brother in Poland, while others purchased EuroPasses and traveled to France and Austria.