An Italian-American living la dolce vita in the Deep South

An Italian-American living la dolce vita in the Deep South

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Speak to Me Sunday: When the Back of the Church Wasn't the Front

For my 40th birthday, Joe planned a surprise trip to Rome, Italy for four nights and five days for me and my friend, Jill. Coincidentally, my parents were going to be there a few days before heading to Sicily, so we arranged to stay in the same hotel.

During the day my friend and I hit all the sights; in the evening, we joined my parents and their group of friends for whatever fun activity they had planned.  Who knew that hanging out with a group of seniors could be so much fun? There was an opera singer on the bus, coins in a fountain, and a delicious dinner on the Appian Way complete with wandering minstrels and lots of napkin waving. We had a blast with them.

Joining my parents and their friends for dinner. 

See? Napkin waving. That's my dad. 

While we were in Rome we also wanted to take a couple of seminarians from our diocese (Fr. Pablo and Aaron Killips) out to dinner, so Fr. Pablo suggested we meet in front of the church, Santa Maria Maggiore, near the train station in the center of Rome.

My friend and I, along with my parents, arrived to the church at the appointed time. We sat on the steps and waited. No Fr. Pablo. No Aaron Killips. We double-checked Fr. Pablo's email with the instructions. Yes, we were at the right church. Yes, this was the correct time, except now it was half an hour later. We sat there until my mother had an epiphany.

"You know," she said very seriously. "I don't think this is the front of the church."

Here we are, waiting at the back of the church ...
which we thought was the front.

Laughing in the back, which we thought was the front.

OH. MY. GOSH. We had been sitting at the BACK of the church the entire time! We quickly ran to the front where we found the seminarians waiting for us. Needless to say, we felt very stupid but, in our defense, the back of the church looked like the front of a church! Even the seminarians agreed!

Still, we had a lovely dinner. At one point I shared with them with this epic family joke (as told by my Uncle Luciano who likes to tease my mother): "If Pontius Pilate, instead of giving people the choice between freeing Jesus or Barabbas had, instead, offered them Jesus or Massimilla, the crowd would have definitely chosen Jesus which would have altered the entire course of Christianity."

They really laughed.

Dinner with the seminarians.

We met them several times over the next couple of days--Aaron Killips took us all on a Scavi tour (the necropolis underneath St. Peter's Basilica and the actual tomb of St. Peter), after which he invited us to the rooftop of the Pontifical North American College for a wonderful photo opportunity; Fr. Pablo, the very next day, gave us a private tour of St. Peter's Basilica.

In the end, it was a great trip, largely due to the fact we met up with my parents AND were able to hang out with Fr. Pablo and Aaron who, I guess, liked us despite the fact we didn't know the back of the church from the front.

But I still say it looked like the front.

View of St. Peter's Basilica from the rooftop of the 
Pontifical North American College, Rome

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