Good Friday - St. John Lateran, Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, and St. Peter's with the Papa

Today was intense.  Physically, emotionally, spiritually, parentally (word?).
But so many blessings and graces.

First of which, at least in the boys' eyes, was a subway ride to St. John Lateran...

Ha, look at this lady's expression.  Weirdo Americans.

Then we got to our first stop:  The Basilica of St. John Lateran, the oldest and most important church for us Catholics.

Could the sky be any bluer?  
The entrance was lined with people trying to sell me sunglasses despite the fact that I had a pair sitting squarely on my face.  There are people all over Rome selling things on the street - sunglasses, weird toys, Pope Francis bobble heads, clothes, scarves, some really pretty skirts that I may have to go back and check out...

I won't subject you to every single picture, and honestly, I've been pretty restrained trying to soak it in rather than worry about picture taking.  But there's still some I had to take :)

St. Andrew - I took this one and the following for two of our Godsons.  I'm sure they'll be impressed.  

St. Matthew
The 11 apostles plus Paul line the aisle of the church.  They are massive.

There is nowhere to look in this place that isn't stunningly beautiful.  As Brian said, you could take just a few square feet of this place and consider it a life's crowning artistic achievement.  Except I'm paraphrasing and it didn't sound as dorky when he said it.

I felt a little guilty taking this shot of the altar where Jesus was reposed for Good Friday but look at those little boys who went up all on their own to pray before Him.  My heart.

It is incredible to me how we participate in God's creative work by making these spectacular works of art for His glory.  I used to look caustically on things like this assuming them to be pretentious and gaudy.  Surely our Lord wouldn't be pleased with such displays...  How ridiculous!  What better thing can we use our artistic talent toward than beauty that draws our mind to Him Who is Beauty itself?  We were given all these resources to create beauty!  Beauty that isn't in someone's private parlor but is given to the whole world to appreciate.  What a gift this beauty and the people who create it are!

Just chillin' with our picnic lunch outside St. John's

I'm so intrigued by the Egyptian hieroglyphics on the obelisks.  I think it's so awesome that they were brought here from Egypt and the cross was put on top to claim the victory of Christ over all the false gods of the past.

This is Santa Scala, the Church of the Holy Steps, where the actual stairs are that Christ climbed in the praetorium when He was sentenced to death.  They were brought to Rome by St. Helena in the fourth century.  We were really hoping to "walk" the steps on our knees as pilgrims traditionally do (and that is the only way allowed up them) but because of Good Friday the wait was at least an hour and unfortunately, it wouldn't work.

I peeked inside the other door to snap this shot of the pilgrims waiting to go up.  You can't take pictures of the actual stairs.  It was powerful just seeing all these people waiting to pray their way up the holy stairs.

We went then to Santa Croce which was nearby.  You can't take pictures inside because you guys, do you know what they have here?  They have a piece of the actual cross, one of the nails, the inscription sign, and two of the purported thorns from the crown.  Of Jesus.  And we were there on Good Friday.  

I can't even describe it but I could have stayed there for hours.  It was interesting that there were hardly as many people here as there were at Santa Scala.  But there was a steady flow of people coming to venerate the relics and pray.  So beautiful.  There was also a copy of the Shroud of Turin that moved me to tears.  I just don't even know how to comprehend the privilege of being here on Good Friday and wish we could have stayed so much longer.  We stayed as long as we could, an hour or so, but we didn't want the kids disturbing the other people there so we pulled ourselves away.

We had to get back and change pretty quickly because we needed to get in line asap for the Good Friday service at St. Peter's.  We had tickets and showed up an hour and a half early and still the line wrapped several times inside the square.  We were pretty bummed that by the time we got to the front we figured there was no way we'd get a seat and just a little bit frustrated that they didn't even check for tickets when we had made sure to get them months ago.  And then do you know what happened?  
We finally got through security and followed the line of people certain we'd be standing in the back or something.  We were directed by the guards to the right of the basilica down this weird pathway next to it.  There was construction and I was kind of thinking that we were going to a basement or something to watch on a screen.  But we weren't.  They were leading us to the back entrance and when we walked in THIS was where we were sitting:

I don't even.
No zoom.  We were like five rows back and that is the main altar.  To the left in that red area with the white chair was where Pope Francis himself sat.

This was the view looking up.
Not even kidding.
Brian, John Paul, and I were stunned.  It was all so surreal.

AND not only did we get to sit there but before it started I got to go to Confession in St. Peter's on Good Friday.  There were priests all behind us hearing them in different languages.

I had no idea how long the service would be and it was almost two and a half hours.  The entire Gospel was chanted and was so beautiful but you know how long that Good Friday Gospel is, right?  It was really long and the kids began to get fidgety.  Luke had to be in the back for most of it.  But the "back" was still a pretty great place to be.  Above is when the bishops and cardinals went up to venerate the cross which was so moving.  It felt kind of inappropriate to me to take pictures during something like this but I felt like I had to so that I could remember and share.

Papa Francis 

We were able to receive the Eucharist for the second time at St. Peter's and then it was over.

Afterwards as we were leaving we were so close to everything.  I wasn't sure if we'd ever be able to see this again so I snapped a quick picture.

Directly in front of the altar looking down toward St. Peter's tomb.  Unbelievable.

Other Notes From Today:

-Jet lag is no joke.  Neither is traveling in a foreign country with four small children.
-The priests!!  So many priests and beautiful sisters everywhere!!  The majority of them are in their twenties and thirties.  You guys.  It's amazingly refreshing to see when we're warned so often about vocations.  It's going to be okay.    
-The humility I learn over and over again doing this mothering thing.  I am so weak.
-That when God is pouring down graces, there will be someone else seeking to defeat you. 
-David immediately recognizing an aqueduct at first sight.  I had no clue.
-Pope Francis looks sad.  Or like he is really uncomfortable with the attention he receives.  Then again, it is the Triduum and maybe he's just experiencing it deeply.
-The feeling of looking at the shroud.
-I'm pretty sure I've lost a few pounds in the past few days with these random meals we've been pulling together.  I think the boys have subsisted mainly on Joe's O's, bread, and various other carbs for three days now.
-To thank Lori a million times over for letting us use their amazing stroller.  Tripsaver.
-Luke being more excited to be on the "train" than by anything else.


  1. FOZE- I am dying reading these stories. Absolutely dying. Thank you so much for sharing. I know the 'mothering whilst traveling with four small children' has to be hard, but even with failings, please be assured you are giving your children such a gift. It's a tough balance between all the jealousy and all the happiness for you. Love to your family. Please continue to pray for my sister annie if you think of it! Love love love

  2. I'm so happy for you!! This is such a beautiful gift you've been given- thanks for sharing it with us.

  3. Thank you for keeping us with you vicariously, The pictures are amazing! To help me put things in perspective - how do the churches compare in size to the Basilica where you were married? That is the most amazing church that I have been in. Enjoy every moment and soak in every detail. Pictures will help you remember all of the details.
    If you are taking pictures without a flash, it really doesn't disturb or distract others. Flashes are what disturb others and if you are discreet which I know you are, then you needn't worry.

  4. oh wow! words can't express how happy I am for you all being there. It looks so amazingly breath taking- what an experience!

    1. And the boys thought the statue pics were pretty cool!

  5. Oh my goodness what an amazing trip for you all. I'm almost in tears, thank you for sharing so far :)
    I'm sure Papa Francis IS uncomfortable with all the attention, but I am so thankful for him.


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