The Unthinkable: To Rome I Go!

Back in July I did one of my loud, obnoxious huff-and-puffs:

Honestly, do I have to go to Rome and storm the press office of the Holy See, and sit the curia down and pull their hats off to smack them upside the head?

Now, oddly–unimaginably–well…I’m going to Rome and will be visiting the press offices of the Holy See, to boot!

And no, you smart-alecks, the picture above is not meant to indicate that my presence in Rome portends a coming darkness. Stop that!

What happened is basically this: I was invited to attend a seminar in Rome, meant for Catholic writers and journalists. I said, “lovely idea, but no–kids out of work, one still in school–can’t be done.”

But they offered a “scholarship” which paid for most of the seminar fees. And then my husband, who has been hoarding frequent flier miles for a “someday” trip to Italy said, “I have enough ff miles to get fly there and work out accommodations, as well…”

And suddenly the thing was doable. It all fell into place so neatly, and so quickly, that I figure it’s “meant to be.” But because I hate to fly I of course hope that means that it is “meant to be” that I arrive safe-to-Rome and safely home, and not, you know….that it is meant to be that I…not do that.

I hate to fly. For my DH it’s practically second nature. He gets comfortable, watches movies, sleeps; he’s quite at ease. I, on the other hand cannot watch movies, read or sleep when I fly; I must stay awake and watch the plane-tracker as we fly over the ocean, in order to diligently insure that the metal box with engines remains in the air, where it belongs.

I trust that God’s Will will prevail, in all things.

And yet, I still have to keep the plane up!

So, it has come to this; I’ll be taking off for Rome next week, and will be gone until mid-September. Not sure of the date-of-return, b/c I’m still trying to wrangle a way to slip over to the UK and cover/simply watch Pope Benedict’s visit to that “green and pleasant land,” and still be able to use my ff miles to get home. It would seem a shame to be so near and yet so far, wouldn’t it?

While I am gone you will be ably served by three (perhaps four) excellent, warm, funny, intelligent writers who have agreed to do me the honor of guest-blogging here. I’ll introduce them to you over the weekend.

And yes, I hope to be able to provide a few Rome-flavored posts (or drop a few pictures by here) while I’m away and the WOTD’s and other good pieces will be added and attended to as well, over at Patheos.

So, really, not much will change while I’m gone. It’s likely you won’t even miss me.

But I hope you’re pray traveling mercies for me.

Starting, like…now?

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Shane

    Bon voyage Elizabeth and enjoy your visit to the Eternal City!!! Highly recommend a visit to the chapel of the Irish College in Rome to see the beautiful mosaics that have recently been done there and the beautiful Basilica of San Clemente!

  • valerie hayes

    I am so happy for you and will pray that you have a safe trip. Try to see as many churches as possible and enjoy all the wonderful food.

  • saveliberty

    Oh this is good news! My niece just left less than an hour ago to fly to Italy for her graduate studies.

    I will add you and your DH to my prayers for a safe and happy trip!

    I am looking forward to hearing a happy story when you come home and I also hope that you might be able to add a travel photo that you would be comfortable sharing.

  • archangel

    This goes under the category…

    “Careful what you wish for!” :)

    Good Luck with that.

  • Steve P in La Crosse, Wis.

    Have a great trip! And if you make it to England, see if you can slip a bit north of London to visit the shrine of Our Lady in Walsingham and the cell of Dame Julian (the anchoress, so to speak) in Norwich.

  • SuzyQ

    I hate to fly too. Hate it! I rely heavily on both Hail Marys and Bloody Marys to get me through it.

  • Bender

    Be sure to hit the catacombs, as well as the scavi at St. Peter’s (if you can get a ticket), and St. Paul’s Outside the Walls too.

    If you have a free day or two, certainly take the train up to Florence.

  • Tony

    When I fly (which is rarely), I put a small St. Michael statue in my carry-on bag. Just in case. And I always go to confession before. No reason to tempt fate:-)

  • Literature Goddess

    Many blessings on your journey! I love it when God surprises us like this. I hope you get to visit that green and pleasant land–you and I share a love for sweet shore. Enjoy!

  • Gayle Miller

    I guess you don’t have the luxury of time to do what my cousin – an airline pilot – suggested I do. Several years ago I learned to fly gliders – it’s wondrous and pretty doggone safe as well. It teaches you the dynamics of floating around on air currents and the like. It relaxed me about flying – but now I cannot sleep because heaven forbid the pilot might need my skills to float the plane to a landing!

    The human brain is plenty weird. I’ll be praying for you to have a safe and wonderful trip, buoyed on the wings of God’s love for you which must, I suspect, be immense.

  • Last Sphere

    Congratulations and Godspeed Anchoress. You’ll be in my prayers. :-)

  • jane

    God bless you, Elizabeth! I feel exactly the way you do about flying! I don’t sleep, I listen to the sound of the engines to make sure they’re sounding “normal” and that they’re on, I pray a lot!

    I’ll be praying for your safe trip and that the Lord gives you His peace which passes all understanding throughout your journey.

    Have a blast — in the sense of a really wonderful time! I’m sure the Lord will hide you under the shadow of His wing and that Our Lady will cover you with the mantle of her love for the whole time that you’re away.

    Bon voyage! Bien viaje! Buono viaggio!

  • Sarah Rolph

    Have a great time! If you need help with the funding, let us know–I’m sure most of your readers would be happy to pitch in for that trip to the UK. If we each give five bucks, it will add up! Why, look–there’s a DONATE button right over there. I’ll start, everyone follow me…

  • dry valleys

    Yes, you’d definitely have to see some of rural England. I can’t claim any great knowledge of southern areas though, as I don’t have a car the only places I can give chapter & verse on are those in cycling range. With regards to what Steve P says, I’ve heard it said that rural Norfolk is nice to visit (Suffolk as well).

    You could pay your regards to David Camoron & his family (who are on holiday in a country area), which now has a new baby swelling its ranks. They haven’t chosen a name for her yet, perhaps you could make a suggestion?

    [Well, I tend to think that every baby should be named Elizabeth. Or, Eli for boys. The queen feels similarly, I believe! -admin]

  • Nerina

    Have fun, Anchoress! It couldn’t happen to nicer blogger.

  • Aleeta

    Godspeed Lovely Lady! Enjoy yourself immensely and please do take lots of pictures.

  • Jeff

    I’m with Tony; I go to confession before I fly. Irrational maybe but it helps. My mother used to do the same and back then there used to a catholic chapel at JFK. No more I think.

  • kmk

    Have a lovely, awesome time–I am so happy for you! Remember to throw the coin in the Trevi (sp?) FOuntain!

  • Joe

    I suggested you take a trip to Israel a few months ago, but Rome is probably even better. Not that Israel is bad, it is really nice. But Rome is bigger and better and has great food.

    Funny how things work out. Blessings and all of that.

  • Maureen

    Congrats! Have a wonderful time – and there is a wonderful shoe store (good shoes/nice prices) opposite the Trevi fountain.

  • Francis Monica

    Wonderful! Someday I hope to go to Rome and Assisi too! (hmm…maybe WYD?) I read your blog everyday and would hate to lose you. I will definitely pray traveling mercies for you. Viaggio sicuro! :)

  • Judith L

    Congratulations! How wonderful! And I do sympathize with your reluctance to fly. Given airport security, the entire endeavor is a penance. I, too watch that little plane make its slow progress across vast expanses of ocean, and weep for joy when I feel the bump of touchdown. Knitting is the best way for me to pass time, but Heathrow, at least, won’t permit knitting needles on flights. If you’re in London, don’t miss Westminster Cathedral. Truly magnificent. We will miss your words of wisdom.

  • Piano Girl88

    So very happy for you…I hate traveling, as well. Once I get to Italy for the music festival, I’m OK, but geez, getting there is not fun, IMHO. We will be kind to your guest bloggers, but will eagerly await your return, and look forward to your words of wisdom once again!

  • Fr.W J Kuchinsky

    Praise God! That’s awesome.
    Bon voyage!

  • Grateful

    We are so excited for you. Prayers already offered – more to follow. Just know God will take care of our girl! Our Anchoress. Many blessings are awaiting for you. (And us via your courage and openess to share your journey in this world.) God Bless you dear Anchoress. Happy trails to you!

  • Fran Rossi Szpylczyn

    It is so exciting. Many prayers for you and for all who will go, including my friend Mary DeTurris Poust. I hope you get to England – that would be amazing… I will pray for all of these things for you.

  • invernessie

    Safe travels Anchoress – the trip sounds wonderful. I hope you are able to see the Pope. True story – I met one of my oldest, dearest friends, who I have known for over 20 years, through another friend who met him (in a pub!) when they were both waiting to see John Paul II in Belgium so many years ago.

  • newton

    Four words: Take. Lots. Of. Pictures!

    Congrats and travel mercies for you! :-)

  • Lee Merrick

    Wonderful – I can’t think of anyone more worthy!
    It will be transformational.

  • Manny

    Oh wonderful. Rome is great. You’ll love it. Have a great time.

  • Stephanie

    Congratulations, Anchoress!!!! I hope you have a lot of fun in Europe

  • Candace

    Well do have fun. Try to get the Press Office to think a little more before they stuff their feet in their mouths.
    As to fear of flying. All that stuff about the airflow over and under the wings is baloney. What has held the plane in the air on every flight I’ve ever taken has been my firm grasp and upward pull on the armrests of my seat. Works every time!

  • Mary Holleman

    How thrilling that you get to go to Rome!! You know it is going to be harder to get on the plane to come home b/c you won’t want to leave.
    I, also used to have that fear of flying. I prayed that God would take the fear away and He did. I will pray the same for you.

  • Yoda

    Have fun Anchoress. It will be interesting to hear your perspective when you get back!

  • Fr Patrick of Monterey

    Two of your faithful correspondents have beat me to it: do not miss San Clemente [you will never forget the cross] as well as the Scavi under St Peter’s. And for something different? Evening Prayer led by laity at Sta Maria in Trastevere. Have a wonderful trip!

  • JBalconi

    Enjoy your trip, Elizabeth. I, too, hate to fly. My last trip, a friend got me a medal of Our Lady of Loreto and prayed for my safe flight. I still keep it in my luggage. :)

  • Anthony

    It was standing in St. Peter’s Square and looking at Pope John Paul speak that saved me from the mild and not very convincing atheism I followed for about a year or two. WHen in St. Peter’s, you can always tell the Catholics as they touch or kiss the foot of the brozne statute of St. Peter.

    I also always joke that you can tell the Catholics in each Church. Every Church in Rome has some sort of artistically important work. But they also all have a religiously important relic. Everyone on entering a church goes off to see the artwork. Then, the Catholics all peel off and go to see the important relic. We are a strange lot.

    Good luck and blessings be with you. And remember, fight off your urge to run into the Vatican press office and yell at them.

  • Fran Rossi Szpylczyn

    Fr. Peter is so right about Evening Prayer at Santa Maria is Trastavere!

  • Regina

    Have a fabulous time. We were in Italy this time last year – Rome and Umbria/Tuscany. As someone said earlier, do try to visit the basilica of San Clemente. It’s not far from the Colliseum and is easy to walk right by, but well worth the visit. Make sure you go down to all the levels.

    I love to travel but I hate the to-ing and fro-ing. I’m old enough to remember when air travel was an exciting and comfortable. No more, alas.

    You’re in my prayers.

  • Don Singleton

    God works in mysterious ways, but you will always be in his hands. Let Him worry about keeping the plane in the air, and spend your time enjoying the trip. Bon voyage!

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  • JuliB

    Hurray! Rome is my favorite city – I’ve been there 3 times and want to return. As for the flying… just bring some sleeping pills so you wake up to your first day in Rome when you land. Easier on you during the flight, and easier on you for the first day. Take them as soon as you take off.

  • Jeanne

    Safe travel …and looking forward to reading your posts about this trip!!!!!

  • expat

    Have a great trip. You will love it. I recommmend the War Cabinet Rooms in London. They have some wartime cookbooks in the gift shop that would make anyone count his blessings today.

    Also, try a really funny book for the flight. There’s nothing like a belly laugh to loosen the knots in your stomach.

  • jtd7

    Yes, you will be in my prayers. If you can, visit the Catacombs. They moved me more than all the grand basilicas within the city walls.

    And don’t forget to bring a can of whup-@$$ for the Curia!

  • Deborah Gyapong

    Dear Elizabeth,

    The Church Up Close is a wonderful course and provides great opportunities to see the important sights in Rome and in the Vatican.

    I attended in 2008 and, as I am not an experienced traveler, doing the course really helped provide a structure for what would have been a pretty daunting city to see on my own. You will get a great Scavi tour as part of your course, I suspect.

    If you need a lead on a place to stay that is quiet, clean, air-conditioned and relatively inexpensive for Rome, drop me a line. Some of the recommended places close to the course are filled up by this time, so I stayed a little out of the centre city, got a bus pass and made my way around just fine. Public transportation is really good, though wonky as no routes are straight lines.