The Eternal City, il Papa, e Old Bridge Gelato

Hello again! Today has been absolutely glorious, but before I can tell you about that, I need to update on what we did yesterday!
Friday night was spent chilling in the Dublin airport. Let me tell you, I have pulled more all-nighters in the past week than I have in my entire life! Granted, this amounts to 2 1/2, BUT it’s a lot for someone used to sleeping at least 6 hours a night 😀 So, after not sleeping more than 15mins Friday night, we had a 7:10 flight to Rome.  It was super cute, because while we were waiting, this nice old man started talking with us about our travels and our majors and all sorts of stuff.  We were again assured that every person who hears the words “theology major” asks what we are going “to do with that.”  It’s pretty hard to explain to some stranger that I wanted to study Theology because I love learning about the Lover of my soul and the Creator of the Universe, and that this knowledge not only serves my eternal soul, but also unfathomably enriches every aspect of my life, regardless of what my major is or what I end up being/doing.  But maybe I’m just too cowardly to say that…I’m sure there’s a nice, charitable, non-preachy way to explain that.  I usually just default to, “I’m thinking of going to Chiropractic school once I graduate.” Is it possible to explain to a world focused on the present life the reason you’re using this life to get to Heaven in the next?
But, I digress.  This man was SO happy and jovial (and his Irish accent only helped) because he and a huge amount of his extended family were all traveling to Rome for his daughter’s wedding the next day.  It was really really cute how happy they all were and to see them all together.  It would be absolutely amazing to be married in Rome (or at Castel Gandolfo like a couple we saw today).  There is so much history and beauty everywhere!! And great food 😀
The airport was an experience, but I honestly didn’t feel too well after the flight and all, and I haven’t slept well in too long for any memory to stick for an extended amount of time (bummer when you’re studying abroad for the ONLY TIME IN YOUR LIFE).  But we went into Rome after our super cute family lunch with two courses and the most amaaaaazing apples and grapes ever! And I didn’t have to eat gluten ^_^ I’m pretty sure it’ll still make me feel bad :/ we’ll see in a couple weeks when I try it.
SO, in Rome it was amazing and beautiful and busy and distracting and diverse and I STOOD IN ST PETER’S SQUARE! Totally surreal and  wonderful.  I’m also really glad to be able to share it with the group we have here…I really like them all so far, and Catie mentioned that “we’re all specifically placed here to learn something from each other.”  I truly hope to do so, and to always remember that as the semester goes on.  Rome is so full of history, beautiful architecture, awesome little shops and side-streets – I can’t wait to update you as to my adventures exploring there (once I get my monthly bus pass for October :D).  Our excursion to St. Peter’s (p.s. the water in those fountains, and the fact that you can drink it safely is preeeeetty magical) included OLD BRIDGE GELATO. It’s wonderful, it’s cheap, they’re generous, and nice.  There’s really nothing to not like about it.  I just hope that I don’t get too fat or lose all my money on it 😀
TODAY we woke up early and, just like everything in this trip so far, God worked it out absolutely perfectly with all of our buses and connections, etc. and we went to Castel Gandalfo to see the Pope.  No joke, I’m pretty sure we were like 60 feet from his balcony.  He is a beautiful man and servant of God.  He comes out of his vacation home to pray the Angelus with his children (who love him so much) and address them and listen to the Poles play their music and sing their song to him (they legit brought a band with a bass, trombone, violin, accordion, singers/dancers and played beautiful music the entire time 😀 it was awesome).  He gives us 15 minutes of his time and everyone loves him so much – but I do wonder if he ever *really* gets a break or a retreat….it has to be tiring being the Pope!
The city of Castel Gandalfo is also amazing, quaint, adorable, and situated right above a BREATHTAKING lake.  We went on an adventure to find a way down to the lake and got in (it was like quicksand! I sank in past my knees…in capris 😀 lol!).  But it was literally just perfect.  We had a picnic on the lake, in the breeze, with the sun shining, the blessing and words of the Pope in our hearts, and Jesus under our roofs.  Even if the hike was sometimes on an 85 degree incline, everyone thoroughly enjoyed our visit with il Papa.  Viva, Benedetto!
“God was not afraid to put Himself last.” ~Papa Benedetto

P.S. – I completely forgot to mention that we went to Adoration in a church which had tons of St. Pio’s relics and Blessed Pope John Paul II’s stole.  It was amazing. and I’m also amazed that I FORGOT that. I think the fact that it slipped my mind attests to the amount of awesome blessings we’re receiving here.  May we have the strength, courage, wisdom, and prudence to give back and take all of this as means to The End. ❤

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