One of the many loveable features of Rome is that, no matter what your schedule is, there is a Mass you can make it to during just about every hour of the day (unless you only happen to be free between 1-3 PM, when even Jesus appears to be on break for pranzo). This past Monday, however, put this theory of mine to the test.
Since Monday was the feast day of Saint Catherine of Alexandria, I decided to go to a church dedicated to another Virgin and Martyr, Sant’Agnese fuori le Mura. As is the case with many of these “outside the wall” ventures, the only way to visit this church is to take a sojourn on the dreaded B line. One can usually avoid this sad, sad experience, because it is the non-touristy line and as such goes to places that no one in their right mind would want to see anyway. Also as such, however, it receives much less care than the precious A line. What I’m really saying is that Piazza di Spagna is to blame for all my problems, including the fact that this venture didn’t work out. Yes, there was no train on the B line for twenty minutes due to “technical issues” at one of the stations. So, I was very late for the Mass I’d been planning on attending, and my conscience wouldn’t allow me to receive Communion without being present for at least some of the Liturgy of the Word… Of course, the experience wasn’t a total waste of time, since I got to pray in this lovely space, and at the crypt where St. Agnes is buried.
My other motive for coming to this church was the nearby Mausoleum of Santa Costanza. This is technically a church, in the same way that the Pantheon is: there’s an altar, but its main function is to show that the Christians are better than the Romans. Ha. So there. Also like the Pantheon, it’s big and round and its most dome-inant feature is, well, its cupola.
So, I returned to my dorm and made plans to attend a Mass in the evening. This church is on the indefatigable A line, so I arrived with plenty of time. But, the website had failed to mention that it was closed until at least the end of the year for repair work. I was informed that I could pay 6 euros to see the crypt, but there was no Mass. I vented some steam by visiting the nearby San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane, which also has a cool dome (but no more puns, I promise).
Wondering when and how my life had turned into a really bad Sit Com without my noticing, I planned Mass at yet another church. This one was only accessible by bus, so I planned buckets of extra time into my journey. Rome laughed. None of the several buses that would have taken me there came for fifteen minutes. I was starting to worry, but not severely: there was still enough time. Rome cackled. All of a sudden, there was an accident or something that had traffic backed up substantially and turned out to be severe enough that they were redirecting the bus route. Mamma mia. When it became futile, I ditched the bus and sprinted to another church nearby that I recalled had a Mass at the same time, and made it just a minute or so late—which is actually early in Italian time, so I was content.
While the apse is undeniably hideously Baroque, there were many redeeming and beautiful pieces of art in the side chapels. Additionally, there was Eucharistic Adoration held after the Mass, which I desperately needed after the day’s events. I stayed until the twitch in my eye died down a little, and then headed off to “Theology on Tap” at the local Irish pub. Though beer and theology have the potential to create one of the best combinations man has yet discovered, I felt like the conversation got rather sidetracked, and several factors of the atmosphere were non-conducive to great discussion. Of course, this was probably all Piazza di Spagna’s fault. But, beer is still beer, and it was a nice evening regardless!
My only adventure was an inadvisably early Mass at a church called Sant’Onofrio. This was a bit of a leap of faith, as the only scrap of information I could find online about Mass times was on a website not affiliated with the church. Hoping to avoid getting up before the sun without due cause, I sent an email several days in advance to the address listed on the diocese’s site (which, perhaps after this blog, is the worst website on the Internet). And, here’s the kicker: I sent it in ITALIAN! I was so proud of myself, and they didn’t even respond. This left me wondering if my Italian was just indecipherable or if the people running the church were just incompetent. After attending the Mass (which did, in fact, exist), I decided resolutely that it was the latter. There were some questionable (and also some definitely not OK) things going on in the liturgy. BUT, the church is up on a hill (a real hill, not one of the 7), and so I did get a great view of the sunrise over Rome. And, it features some gorgeous frescoes, a rare treat in Rome.
This whole adventure was undertaken with a dear friend of mine. Shared suffering builds bonds, I guess. Pastries, hot chocolate and good conversation also build bonds, so the morning was on whole a great experience.
For the rest of Tuesday and continuing through press time, I’ve been very busy and very sick, so I haven’t had many adventures worth relating. Although, this morning the RAs of our building cooked us a delicious American brunch in celebration of Thanksgiving. And, after this, sick (literally) and tired of Piazza di Spagna ruining everything, I hopped on a train headed to Padova! So, many more adventures to come.