Ostia Antica: St. Augustine’s Home Town

On August 28, we celebrate the feast of St. Augustine of Hippo, the North African convert who became one of Catholicism's greatest educators after his conversion.I've posted several articles about St. Augustine (here and here and here).  I thought I’d round out the series with a few pics from some of his favorite hometown haunts.Back in 2003 or 2004, I had the privilege of leading a group of pilgrims to some of the fun spots in and around Rome.   One of my favorite spots, outside of t … [Read more...]

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La Verna: St. Francis’ Hilltop Home-Away-From-Home

St. Francis, after whom our new pope is named, is most often associated with the Italian village  of Assisi.  And fair enough:  Assisi was home base for Francis and the other monks of the Order of Friars Minor.Sometimes, though, he just needed to get away.  That’s what happened when, in August 1224, Francis withdrew to La Verna, about a day’s walk away, for an extended 40-day period of prayer and fasting.Pope Francis has invited the monks of La Verna to attend his inaugural Mass tomorrow … [Read more...]

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Pope Benedict’s New Digs

By now you’ve probably seen this picture:It’s the Mater Ecclesiae—the former convent inside the walls of Vatican City where Pope Benedict will reside in quiet prayer.Four times in the last decade, it has been my privilege to lead a group tour through the Vatican Gardens, where the Mater Ecclesiae is located.  I remember its story:  The residence has been occupied by a community of cloistered sisters whose mission was to tend a small garden, help with some domestic tasks, and pray for the … [Read more...]

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