January 18th, 2024 – The Womb of Benedictine Monasticism: Subiaco, Italy
This morning at the Sacro Speco (Sacred Cave) high above Subiaco, Italy…a small miracle unfolded before our eyes. There must have been one million birds flying in over the hills of Subiaco in murmuration.
My guide and friend Mauricio had never seen anything like this in his 25 years at the Sanctuary. He is one of only six monks in residence at this shrine built on the spot where St. Benedict spent three years before writing the foundations of monasticism, the Rule of Benedict. This was the first stop on an eight-day trip to Italy. I can’t wait to see what’s in store the next seven days…especially when I meet Pope Francis on Friday!
January 20th, 2024 – From Caves to Cathedrals: Rome, Italy
Leaving Benedict’s cave, the hospitality of the monks at Santo Scholastica, and the charm of Subiaco behind, I headed off to Rome to gather with Catholic leaders from around the globe at the International Federation of Catholic Universities (IFCU).
During the conference, I was grateful to have a private audience with Pope Francis deep within Vatican Palace. Being in the presence of His Holiness with such a small group, and having the chance to greet him personally was only enriched by having my son Logan at my side the whole day. (He’s studying in Rome.)
Our day was capped off by a formal dinner at Villa Louisa—the breathtaking sixth century home of the Portuguese Ambassador to the Holy See.
This was yet another in a long and growing list of days when I’ve asked myself: “How did I get here?” All I know is that I love my role as ambassador ofThe Saint John’s Bible! Tomorrow, I am off to Assisi with Logan to relive some of our family’s most cherished memories.
January 21, 2024 – Work Hard, Play Hard: Assisi, Italy
Everyone has heard the phrase: Word hard, play hard. This is something my wife and I have tried to instill in our children for as long as I can remember. The past week has been a great example, and Logan has had a front-row seat.
We worked hard on behalf of Saint John’s Abbey & University traveling to Subiaco to present the project at the “womb” of the Benedictine tradition, and then to the Centenary Celebration of IFCU here in Rome. Tomorrow is the Vatican Library.
Yesterday was our first chance to “play hard” by making a return visit to Assisi where our entire family first traveled in 2010. I’ve been back several times since but Logan never has, and he has always carried a bit of disappointment at being only seven years old during that life-changing family sabbatical in 2010. He doesn’t remember the experience the way the rest of us do.
So, back to Assisi we went and had an amazing day. Assisi never disappoints! It is, to be sure, a “thin place,” where the veil between heaven and earth seems to be just that much more translucent. It was a chilly but beautiful bluebird day. We had the place to ourselves, just father, son, our talented and wise tour guide Valentina, and plenty of time in all the important places.
Rev. Dr. John F. Ross, Executive Director
The Saint John’s Bible Heritage Program
The Saint John’s Bible Heritage Program: Igniting the Spiritual Imagination Across the Globe
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