The Templemore group who were part of the recent Diocesan Pilgrimage
A group of over 50 people took part in a recent Diocesan Pilgrimage to Rome/Tuscany. We had eight people from Templemore on the trip which ended on Sunday of last week. It was a wonderful week, with the weather a comfortable 24/26 degrees.
The history of Rome is known to be long and complicated. But we had a most knowledgeable guide (Kieran) in our midst, as well as our Archbishop Kieran who has spent many years in Rome.
We got wonderful explanations of the sites, people and churches in this wonderful city, shrouded in a romantic legend that attributes the city’s birth to Romulus in 753BC, and for centuries to follow, the city, built on seven hills reigned as the ancient capital of the Western world. It has also been the centre of Christianity for nearly 2000 years.
The historic centre is full of ancient landmarks such as the Roman Forum, The Pantheon, and The Coliseum, Fountains, statues, Galleries and Museums.
In the heart of Rome there is the smallest state in the world, the Vatican City with its own coins, stamps and its own army of Swiss Guards.
There was a memorable visit to the Irish College where we were joined by Fr Paul Finnerty who is based in the Irish College and whose family lived for a number of years in Templemore. Fr Paul gave us an in-depth description on the historical details of the church in the Irish College – home to so many Irish men studying for the priesthood for so many years. Fr Paul also concelebrated Mass with the Archbishop and other priests in the group.
We walked from our hotel to St Peter’s Basilica where we viewed the tombs of St Peter and Pope John Paul 11, saw Michaelangelo’s famous Pieta and all the principal sights in the Basilica.
Wednesday was a special day in our itinerary as we made our way at 7.45am to the Vatican for an audience with the Holy Father, Francis. The group all felt we got special treatment in the huge congregation as we very near the Papal podium where Archbishop Kieran was seated close to the pope.
Pope Francis delivered a homily on hope and the importance of hope in all our lives, he welcomed everyone present including our Cashel and Emly group from Ireland before blessing everyone present. This blessing extended to our families, friends at home, and to all we had promised to pray for.
It was a very spiritual and uplifting time for all which was evident in the joy and facial expressions of the many thousands of people from all corners of the world who attended.
We visited many places of interest during the 4 days stay in the city of Rome. On Thursday we travelled by coach to Assisi, famous for its beautiful medieval streets and stonework, for the frescoes of Giotto and most of all as the birthplace of St Francis and St Clare.
Friday morning, we got back on the coach for our journey to Florence. This city lies in a broad plain crossed by the river Arno and surrounded by hills and is renowned as the world’s leading city of art. Those brave enough to do so climbed the Leaning Tower of Pisa on Saturday. It was awesome! The tower was completed only in the second half of the fourteenth century at the hands of Tommaso Pisano. The height of the tower is 55 metres. In order to reduce its leaning many corrective interventions have been carried out. The bravest among us took the flight of stairs up the leaning tower.
We had Concelebrated mass in the Cathedral - our final Mass on pilgrimage in the Cathedral designed like the Cathedral in Thurles and also dedicated to the Assumption.
We returned home on the last flight of Aer Lingus from Bologna airport for the summer season bringing to an end the trip of a lifetime with a group of people from all over the diocese who jelled so well and who were loud in their praise of all who made it such a pleasant tour.