After all the adventures in Poland, it was nice to just settle down for a week. It’s pretty weird to come “home” from one vacation, in Poland, to another vacation, in Rome. Although it’s hard to be homesick with all the excitement of being in Europe, coming home to Rome isn’t hardly the same. I hate to admit it….but I love MN.
This past Saturday our chaplain, Father Korola, took our group of about 30 students to the quaint little town of Siena where the famous Saint, Catherine of Siena, lived. Siena is, apparently, our chaplain’s favorite city in Italy, and I can understand why. The rustic facades, the greenery, the smell of springtime, the plants on the windowsills all contribute to the overall serenity that is Siena. Just as I noticed in Assisi, you can feel that you are in the presence of a mystic when you are in this city.
We had a particularly interesting bus ride to Siena. Father Korola warned us to be prepared for a bumpy and twisty ride. What we could not prepare for was the overwhelming heat. I’m not talking about natural heat from the outdoors. I am talking about indoor heat, as in the driver would not turn it off. Father Korola asked the driver ostensibly to turn on the air conditioning. The driver would turn the air on to the lowest setting then, when no one was looking, turn the heat back on. Father Korola said that Italians have a theory that cool drafts can give people liver disease… So, liver problems are not because of the amount of wine they consume but because of cool drafts. Interesting. This explains why we, Americans, are the only people on the street who wear bare legs, not long winter jackets, in 60 degree weather. Either way, that bus ride was not pleasant. The culture difference struggle is real!
We visited several churches in Siena including the Siena Cathedral and San Domenico, where the relics of St. Catherine are kept. In San Domenico, we got to pray in front of the incorruptible head of St. Catherine. The cathedral was huge and magnificent, but I wasn’t drawn to it as much. Why are all cathedrals in Italy painted with zebra stripes? I bet my art history professor would have a good answer.
My favorite place that we visited was the home of St. Catherine where a beautiful shrine and church was built to honor her life. In the shrine are paintings of true events of St. Catherine’s life such as levitating in prayer, receiving the wounds of Christ, and accepting a ring to pledge her life to Jesus. We had mass as a group inside the church before we got back on the bus for a miserable ride back to Rome.
Siena was great. I only wish we could have stayed longer because there are probably ten more churches that we didn’t see. Amazing.
The next night, our group had a talent *ahem* variety show. Of course, I couldn’t resist doing an act that turned out to be completely ridiculous. Five of us girls decided to lip-sync to One Direction, “What Makes You Beautiful,” which we threw together in under 15 minutes. Obviously, we dressed up as characters from the band. Perhaps, if I can get my hands on the video recording, I will post it so you can see. Stay tuned!
For now this picture will be enough…
Thanks for reading! It really means a lot that you care about my adventures. I miss everyone at home!