|Maryvale Group in front of St Peter's Basilica|
"I was very privileged to be a member of a small party of Staff and students of Maryvale Institute in Rome for the opening of the Year of Faith, on 11th October 2012. Our pilgrimage began with Mass at 8.00am in the crypt of St Peter’s on 9th October, the feast day of Blessed John Henry Newman, who at one time lived at Maryvale (and indeed gave the house its name). During the days we were in Rome we visited the catacombs of St Pricilla and the four major Basilicas: St John Lateran, the actual Cathedral for the diocese of Rome (St Peter’s is not a Cathedral), St Peter’s St Paul’s Outside the Walls, (where we were able to pray in front of his tomb) and St Mary Major.
We were pleased to receive a guided tour of the beautiful and ancient basilica of St Clemente, built above two previous layers; the 1st Century Roman home of Clemente (third Pope and the “Clement” of St Paul’s letter to the Philippians) become Christian church, the remains of the fourth century basilica founded under Constantine, and the present day 12th century building with its most magnificent gilded mosaic apse teaching the meaning of salvation.
On Wednesday we were privileged to have tickets to the Papal audience where the Holy Father spoke about the precious documents of Vatican II which had been buried under interpretations and misinterpretations, and we were all urged to engage with the exact texts themselves over the coming Year of Faith. At the end our little group was presented to the Holy Father who recognised our link with Newman with a wave in our direction.
Thursday was the highlight of the week, when we had tickets for seats at the Papal Mass opening the Year of Faith. It was an amazing Mass, in Latin, English and Italian. The Holy Father began his homily with these words:
“This celebration has been enriched by several special signs: the opening procession, intended to recall the memorable one of the Council Fathers when they entered this Basilica; the enthronement of a copy of the Book of the Gospels used at the Council; the consignment of the seven final Messages of the Council, and of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which I will do before the final blessing. These signs help us not only to remember, they also offer us the possibility of going beyond commemorating. They invite us to enter more deeply into the spiritual movement which characterized Vatican II, to make it ours and to develop it according to its true meaning. And its true meaning was and remains faith in Christ, the apostolic faith, animated by the inner desire to communicate Christ to individuals and all people, in the Church’s pilgrimage along the pathways of history...If today the Church proposes a new Year of Faith and a new evangelization, it is not to honour an anniversary, but because there is more need of it, even more than there was fifty years ago!”
At the end of the Mass, messages were personally given by Pope Benedict XVI to individuals representing different communities, and last of all, a Catechism was given to Dr Caroline Farey (Member of staff at Maryvale Institute) as a representative of all the catechists in the world. There was no message for catechists, only the Catechism itself as the foundation of all catechesis in every parish, school and home.
I was very grateful for the opportunity to be in Rome at such a momentous occasion for the Church. If you want to know more about the synod and the Year of Faith, visit www.catholic-year-of-faith.com for details, blogs and resources for this amazing year