Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Footsteps of Faith - And We Walked

Walking in the footsteps
     of those who went before us;
standing on the shoulders
     of the ones who set the standard;
following in the pathway
     of the people who left their mark
we discovered worlds;
we grew closer together;
we met the divine.
And we were transformed,
     forever changed
          to change the world in which we live.

Thank you for traveling with us.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Day 9 - A Colossal Day

The final day in Rome started with a visit to the Colosseum. Everyone agreed that you cannot understand it’s scale until you are standing in its long shadow!

The group then walked by the Arch of Constantine and began our descent into the Roman Forum. So much history took place here - the birth of Rome on Palatine Hill, Titus’ Arch, the basilicas, the Temple of Saturn, the Vestal Virgins, Julius Caesar, government buildings, and churches. It was humbling to walk on these ancient roads where so many have once walked.

Our next steps took us to the Mamertine Prison. This is where tradition says both Paul and Peter were both imprisoned before they were martyred for their faith and their preaching. They were seen as a threat to empire because of the way in which their message was giving hope to everyone, not just the powerful and wealthy. The presence in this small space was tangible and overwhelming.

Following lunch, our last stop of the day was the magnificent St. Paul’s Outside the Walls. The Apostle Paul is buried here. The grandiosity and beauty of the space is something few will forget anytime soon. We also had the incredibly unique opportunity to go into the Chapel of St. Benedict to have a service of remembrance of our baptisms. It was a moving experience for everyone.

To close the day, we ate dinner at Alessio and returned to the hotel for our final time of reflection together. You need to know that our tour guide, Helene, was impressed by the sense of community in this group as well as the depth of their questions. This group has been incredible. They have stood out to everyone they have met. They are indeed a group of which we all should be proud.

Thank you for your prayers. See you soon.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Day 8 - Two Cities in Two Countries - Vatican City and Rome

Today, we visited . . .
the Vatican Museum,

the Sistine Chapel (no photos allowed),
St. Peter’s Basilica,

St. Peter’s Square,

the Spanish Steps,

Trevi Fountain,

the Pantheon,

and capped the evening off at
Piazza Navona for dinner

and Giolitti’s for desert.

I’ll let the pictures do the talking.

Thank you for your prayers. We are looking forward to one more really full day!

Friday, June 15, 2018

Day 7 - Sunrise in Samos, Sunset in Rome

We woke up early in Samos and saw the beautiful sunrise.

We boarded two planes, flew over the sea and several islands, and finally arrived in the Eternal City, Rome.

After a short period of rest, we headed out to two spectacular sites.
Santa Maria della Vittoria which houses one of the world’s most beautiful sculptures - Bernini’s Ecstasy of Saint Teresa. It is breathtaking. The entire church is almost more than one can take in. As two students said, “The attention to the smallest detail was overwhelming.” “Every square inch of the church was covered.”

Then we walked down the road to Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri - a basilica designed by Michelangelo inside an ancient Roman bath. The scale of this church is awe inspiring.

We capped our evening off with communion together in the hotel. Our celebrants were Deacon Alaina Slack and Deacon Abbie VanMeter. It was a spiritually moving way to end our first evening I. Rome together. 

We look forward to what tomorrow may bring. 
Thank you for your prayers. 

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Day 6 - Samos - Beautiful Island, Beautiful Day

The day was spent on our beautiful island home of Samos. This island is rich with history, and it’s impact is still felt throughout the world.

Pythagoras is from this island. His understanding of the world and his mathematical formula are a significant part of how we see and engage the world.
Aristarchus is also from the island. He is a lesser known mathematician and astronomer. He was the first to postulate that the sun was the center of the universe and not the earth. He was also the first to plot the planets in their correct order based on their distance from the sun. He lived in the 4th and 3rd centuries BCE.
Samos also has the largest Temple of Hera in the Greek world. It was one of the largest temples ever constructed.
Samos once boasted the largest navy in the ancient world.

We had the opportunity to tour the tunnel built in the 6th century BCE which was designed to bring water from one side of the island to the other. It is a magnificent engineering feat to dig from both sides of the mountain simultaneously and meet in the middle. They were only off from being perfectly aligned by 3 cm in height. It took over ten years to construct.

We then took inthe beauty and mystery of the Panagia Spiliani Monastery and Church located on the mountains of Samos. One of the sanctuaries of this monastery is found in an ancient cave which became known as the Cave of the Nymphs in Roman times.

After a quick visit of the fantastic Museum of Pythagorio we had an amazing gyro lunch at the greatest gyro stand in the world, Robinson’s.

The students had the afternoon to relax and swim in the pool. They are an amazing group. It is an honor and privilege to be with them. We are looking forward to what is next!