Thursday, April 25, 2019

Pearls in Rome, Day Four (St. John Lateran, St. Mary Major)

Churches, Churches...and MORE Churches!

If you've been following along here recently, you already know what my husband and I did on Day One, Day Two, and Day Three of our recent Roman holiday.  I meant to continue adding to this blog series in a timely fashion, but first I wanted to enjoy the Easter Triduum.  Then some things came up with my large and ever-growing family, and I don't know where the days went.  Then yesterday, I finally got around to putting together my thoughts about Day Four, along with a whole slew of carefully chosen pictures...and then just as I was finishing up, I pushed some button I shouldn't have and made the entire post I'd been working on for more than two hours disappear into thin air.  AAAGGGHHH!!!  I had to walk away from my computer for a bit (great advice from my favorite travel buddy and back-haver), clear my head, and just forget all about blogging for a while.

I'll tell you, there is nothing worse than trying to reconstruct something you've already written, edited, polished up until it sounds just the way you want it to, and then DELETED BY MISTAKE!!  It's a writer's nightmare.  But there is at least one person who's waiting with baited breath for the next installment of the "Pearls in Rome" series (I'm talking about you, baby sister), so I thought I better just get over it and start from scratch.

So here goes.

When we got back from what I like to call our trip of a lifetime, one of my daughters-in-law asked, "What was your favorite thing about Rome?" At first, I felt overwhelmed and couldn't decide which thing to choose, because I had loved it all so much.  But then I remembered that there was really only one answer to such a question, and that was the churches!  Another daughter-in-law asked if the trip felt like more of a second honeymoon or a pilgrimage, and I answered that it would have to be considered a combination of the two.  My husband and I had decided that this trip was going to be a celebration of both our 35th and 40th anniversaries, since we are right about in the middle of those two milestones right now.  (Most years, we just go out for a dinner-and-movie anniversary date; but we thought it was about time we celebrated in style!)  So of course there was that romantic element that made us feel like a couple of lovesick honeymooners during our wonderful weeklong getaway.  But Rome is indeed a veritable "Catholic Disneyland," and the astonishing and breathtaking beauty of the many churches we visited made our trip to that Eternal City feel very much like a religious pilgrimage as well.

Saturday, March 23

Okay then, let's talk about churches!

We started out Day Four with a visit to San Giovanni in Laterano (St. John Lateran), one of the four major basilicas in Rome.  (We had seen the first of the four, St. Paul Outside the Walls, on Day Three.)  I don't even know how to describe this magnificent church other than to say that it took my breath away.  I was especially impressed by the enormous marble statues of all twelves apostles, standing in giant niches along both sides of the main aisle.

Did you even notice me in this picture?  I am dwarfed by the grandeur on display in this church!

Next, we went to Santa Maria Maggiore (St. Mary Major), another one of the Big Four.  As with all the churches we visited in Rome, I spent much of my time inside looking up and snapping pictures of the ceilings.  The ceilings are so ornately decorated and so full of otherworldly beauty that just gazing up at their artistic splendor makes you feel as if you are in Heaven.  They are to die for (and truly, I hope that when I die, I go to a place that looks like the paintings that grace the ceilings of the Catholic churches throughout Rome!).

After St. Mary Major, we visited Santa Maria della Vittoria (St. Mary of the Victory), a "small" church that probably isn't even listed in the tour guide books as a "must see."  But oh, I am so glad I got to see it!  This church is just stunningly, achingly beautiful--as you can plainly see from the photos.  It is a feast for the eyes--and for the soul!  (As a bonus, this church is the final resting place of Saint Victoria, whose preserved remains are on display inside a glass case.)

These ceilings!  Aren't they glorious?!

The preserved body of Saint Victoria.

After spending most of the day exploring those three magnificent churches, my husband and I made a quick pitstop at a café and had a beer (him) and a cappuccino (me), then we strolled over to the Trevi Fountain, which we had only visited after dark thus far (towards the end of Day One).  We threw three coins in the fountain, because I guess that's what you're supposed to do.

We found an eatery near the Trevi Fountain and enjoyed another relaxing dinner al fresco.  I ordered spaghetti carbonera and it was delizioso!  (My dinner date wasn't too shabby, either.)

After dinner, we walked back to our little VRBO apartment.  We passed the Pantheon, as we always did on our way back "home" each night, and enjoyed seeing it all lit up and its piazza filled with merry-makers.

As usual, we stopped for our nightly gelato fix at our favorite Italian ice cream shop, Giolitti's.  (You could say that it was either convenient or dangerous having Giolitti's literally around the corner from our apartment; we decided it was convenient.)

And that was the end of Day Four.  We only had three days left to explore Rome, and already I was feeling wistful about how much I would miss our little Roman neighborhood just down the street from the Pantheon...

There's more to come (including our trip to the last of the four major basilicas of Rome, St. Peter's)--and soon, I hope!


  1. Oh my goodness! So beautiful!!!! And yes, I have been waiting for this. You know how much I love reading your blog!!

    1. You're keeping me at it! I don't have many followers as loyal as you are. :)

  2. I just realized I've been to the St. Mary of the Victory church! It's been so long and I don't really recall the inside but I remember that statue of the Ecstasy of St. Teresa.:) Loving reading your recaps!

    1. I'm glad you're enjoying these posts about Rome. It gets in your blood once you've been there, doesn't it? For years now, my husband has been telling me that Rome is his favorite European city--and he's been pretty much EVERYWHERE in his job as a pilot. I'm so happy he finally got to show me around this place that he loves so much. (And now I love it, too!)