SUNDAY – HOME

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Well it is 4 days now since arriving back in our wonderful country.  The 39 hour trip home was quite exhausting.  However, Kathryn had us upgraded to Business Class for the first leg of our journey as she was my “carer”!!  For the last part of our journey we were fortunate to have two seats each so we could really stretch out.

I have been watching the Canonisation on the TV and it brings back so many memories.  I am looking forward to sharing many of memories of my whole pilgrimage with friends and the school community.  I go back to school tomorrow and I am looking forward to seeing the children in my class and all of the staff.

I think it is fitting to end my Blog with the prayer of blessing from Mary MacKillop’s Rome:

Through the example of Mary MacKillop,may we learn to recognise God’s will for us and trust in God’s providence.  Amen.

May we share in her courage, see with her vision, and love with her heart.  Amen.

May almighty God bless us the Father, and Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

MONDAY – CONTINUATION

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The computer froze as I was about to finish.  My biggest fault is now well known as I can’t read maps, I am not sure of directions and I don’t recognise places that I have passed previously.

I have had the most wonderful, inspiring and amazing trip.  Kathryn has been such a great friend and she has also contributed to this Blog.  Pat was also very good company and did try to educate me in ‘Ancient History!!!

A big thank you to all the people who commented and I am looking forward to seeing you all next week.

ROME- THE FINAL DAY- MONDAY 18th OCTOBER

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What was to be a very easy afternoon after a great morning  turned out to be anything but.  The easy afternoon was to include packing and for some reason we pulled out our tickets  AND DISCOVERED OUR TRAIN TICKET FROM ROME TO MILAN WAS FOR THE DAY AFTER WE FLEW OUT OF MILAN FOR ABU DHABI.  Panic stations!!!!! Luckily we hadn’t disposed of our train tickets even though we’d amused each other with,  ‘Last time we pass that station!’ Back to Termini we went  and for the third time today faced the long, long journey underground around building sites and ‘no entry’ signs to get back to the main station and find the ticket office. An hour later we have two new tickets for the RIGHT day and our wallets are minus £10 each. That’s a small price to pay in the big picture…. and now we’re home again at Octtaviano with the packing still to do and plans on how to get a taxi in the early hours of tomorrow yet to be figured out.

We began the day with another early rise and this time we made the two train journeys to where St Paul’s Basilica outside the Walls of Ancient Rome. We were true to form …. very, very early but struck up conversations with other pilgrims to while away the hours. Reserved signs went out only an hour before mass when many people had arrived and, as luck would have it, we were the first seats past the reserved rows.  The Basilica is HUGE  but the crowd even larger!   The Sisters of St Joseph arrived on mass and really looked wonderful in their teale scarves. Pilgrims and Sisters all wore the ‘Pilgrim Scarf’ as well.  The dignitaries  arrived close to starting time and we noted that none of them had pilgrim scarves but all were very gracious in welcoming people and taking photo shoots with the ‘ordinary ‘ folk’. Mass began with a procession of all the sisters present followed by the longest line of bishops and priests we’d ever seen. The Cardinal came up at the rear. His welcome included the story of the two  Aboriginal Seminarians who came to this particular Basilica and one succumbed, while there, to TB. The other returned home with the same illness.Crd. Pell  linked Mary MacKillop with her care and concern for the indigenous peoples. THE SINGING…. thousands and thousands of voices joined in music we all knew and we were led so well by the ACU choir. The Cardinal’s sermon was very inspiring  and his praise of all women religious very sincere and generous. Ann Derwin ( present Monther General spoke so beautifully…. and all felt moved by her humble thanks and praise.   The nuns processed out followed by the long line of Bishops and then the dignitaries.( Kathryn  managed to snap Del in deep conversation with the ex PM   Kevin Rudd.)   We enjoyed mixing with old friends among the sisters after Mass and then it was home to Octtaviano for a delightful lunch before what we imagined was to be an uneventful afternoon!!!!  The two of us know we can happily share rooms in a nursing home in the far distant future. It’s been a great adventure with more laughs than we can record! We’ve decided the worst meal we had was in Monmatre, the worst bed in Arras, the worst travel experience EASY JET”S ON BOARD lugggage rule,  the worst walk was  on Pat’s journey up the 7th HILL of Rome, the hardest day was the 10km of walking in Assisi, the longest afteroon was the tour of the Pallatine, the most moving time our walk at Bullecourt, the finest moment when the Pope said Santa Maria MacKillop, the most patriotic the Thanksgiving singing this morning, the most amusing  my  inabilitiy to

SUNDAY- ROME and CANONISATION DAY!

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Today was the day around which this pilgrimage was planned and we weren’t going to miss out on a good seat. Poppy and Mary beat us to the lineup area and we were there by 5.45am. Gates weren’t to open until 8am but were we glad we rose so early. The crowd was definitely a majority of Aussies so the anthem, Waltzing Matilda, Mary’s songs rang out to call the pope to his morning ablutions! It was great fun until the guards began to arrive and moved barriers thus narrowing the waiting area and squashing us in like sardines. If one fell then there was no way the person could get up again. It was a bit scary actually. As each step was taken … arrival of more guards, unpacking of the security screens…. the crowds swelled to their thousands but we had prime run-off positions and once the barrier was moved it was on for young and old. The more spritely of the twosome took off first and GREAT seats were barred for our party of 5!!!! There was singing and waving of banners, chats to other Aussie pilgrims, photo opportunities with many from different cultures within our Australian nation. The Josephite nuns stood out in their teale scarves and the other pligrims had on the yellow and brown ones. There were SO MANY AUSSIE FLAGS and gold balloons, banners of Mary MacKillop. when cameras went by the noise was deafening. We won’t go over the ceremony with you but, as the popemobile arrived, the crowds suddenly changed their demeanour and the whole mass was without yahoos and flag waving or anything else that could detract from the solemnity of the occasion. MAYBE THERE WERE A FEW NODDING HEADS DURING THE SERMON. …. but we sure woke up when the Pope began his English words on Mary MacKillop. Communion was an eye opener. At least 240 priests started filing into the piazza and then a good number of guards joined them. The guards put up yellow and white umbrellas so the crowds knew where the communion stations were. The Mass ended; the Pope disappeared and the crowds started to disperse. For the second time the same guards checked us on our standing 0n chairs. There were hundreds and hundreds doing it but he honed in on us!!!! He told us we might do that ( stand on chairs) in Australia but it wasn’t done in Rome. We saw lots of the sisters but all were ready to find a bite to eat and visit the ladies after a VERY long time in the Piazza – for us 6.5 hours!!!!! IT WAS WORTH IT. WE ARE SO TIRED BUT SO HAPPY and plan a VERY early night for it all begins again tomorrow for we catch a couple of trains to go to the thanksgiving mass at St Paul Outside the Wall. We know you all are with us in spirit as you have been with us over this incredible weekend….. HAPPY FEAST DAY AUSTRALIA!!!!

ROME – SATURDAY

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Believe it or not…. this is the fourth attempt at this blog. Somehow I’ve managed to delete every ‘almost finished’ post! Must be overtired, overexcited, overstimulated!!!!

Yesterday, we awoke still quite disbeliving of the experiences of the evening before. We decided to return to the Vatican and see if the banners were up. Every saint has a banner hanging from the Piazza. They weren’t up of course… we’re on Rome time here. We decided a little detective work wouldn’t go astray so we went in search of some progress. Well, we found ‘A’ saint …. not ours…. but ONE saint meant there was definitely movement afoot. We entered the Vatican on the opposite side to most visitors so therefore walked towards the crowd. We gave but a WEE SQUEAL when we saw Poppy Massalos and Mary Fletcher, good friends from Brisbane . They emerged from the crowd right in front of us. Now the sounds from four of us couldn’t have been THAT intrusive but the guards who were in quite a large group chatting and using their mobiles, thought otherwise and we were told TO LEAVE. We moved a little and with MORE very firm orders AND hand gestures we realised we were being evicted! One eviction down… another to go. The four of us decided to move on down the street to find where the Saturday concert would be held as Mary was to do some busking. (Mary is the composer of the MacKillop songs in so many of our schools eg With a Josephite Heart, Born in 1842) We boldy entered the foyer, TRIED to explain our purpose and were told to LEAVE IMMEDIATELY. These Italians AREN’T much fun!!!! Dinner was quite a hoot that night too. We asked for the menu only to be told we could have PIZZA MARGERITA or LASAGNE. There WAS nothing else left!!!!

Saturday morning was leisurely and midday saw us in our scarves with our tickets to the concert. Channel 10 stopped us and some of you have seen the footage. Actually we think we’ve been on all commercial stations and in a few newspapers! It’s fun, a laugh and excitement actually makes us do and say things we wouldn’ ordinarily say! THE CONCERT…. we were fortunate to get in very early to help Mary set up her area…. and we couldn’t resist performing alongside her at times! The crowds swelled and FINALLY ( us at the top of the line of course) we were let in and we had excellent seats. THE SHOW was very much the BRISBANE concert for the 100 yrs celebration but so much sleeker, more poignant and VERY professional. The speakers engaged the audience, the prayer ritual very touching and inclusive of all the sisters’ ministeries and the countries in which they are now serving the communities. Because Mary had to busk for the second performance we were there to meet little Sophie Delecio (little burn’s victim so devoted to Mary MacKillop) Sophie knows now that there is a photo of her in the Yr 3 classroom. Saw all the dignitaries – politicians and clergy and MANY oddly dressed nuns! Pat took us to dinner down the Via Venetto and assured us the 1st course would be a small portion. We ate TWO huge meals so waddled home!!! TOMORROW can’t come soon enough!!!! We’re so excited and the buzz  in Rome is electrifying!!!!

FRIDAY – ROME

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Today was not such a busy day.  There were just a couple of places left that we had to visit so we had a sleep in and WALKED to two of the churches on our list of “still to do’s”.  Both churches had dead saints’ bodies there dressed in all their regalia with face masks on but body shapes definitely there.  Kathryn said that she is glad each casket is sealed.  Saints Catherine of Sienna and Phillip Neri were the saints.  It was lovely to sit on Vittoria Emmanuel Square drinking tea and eating cakes and paying much less than 28 Euro!!  We then went to the Vittoria Emmanuel tomb of the Unknown Soldier  (100 steps involved again).  It is so different from Australia’s Canberra Memorial.  It is most ornate and from its highest point it overlooks so much of the city of Rome. We decided to bus it home and for once the bus was not crowded.  We are so used to being pushed and shoved in trains and buses and guarding our wallets.  We had a bit of a walk from the stop near St. Peter’s.  This morning on our way we noticed the red curtain had been hung behind the Pope’s altar for Sunday.  We are gong for a walk shortly and will see what other progress has been made regarding the setting up for Sunday.  At 2.30pm tomorrow we are going to the concert and then Pat is taking us to dinner.  Pat leaves after the canonisation on Sunday.  He has been great company and we will miss him.  He is a walking encyclopedia regarding art and  ancient history . (We are very attentinve!!!!) We hope to go to the Canonisation before 7am on Sunday to get a good seat.  Tim Fischer was trying to get all the Aussies in a particular area but don’t know if he succeeded. We haven’t had any tv news since we left home but we buy a British newspaper that is a day old just to get some kind of news of the world.  I try to look at the Courier Mail Web Site if I have time here at the Internet Cafe.  Today I had a phone call from my nephew informing me that he and Deena are expecting twins!! I am very happy for you Scott.

THURSDAY- ROME and SURROUNDS

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While still recovering from being ‘had’ with our 16 Euro cuppas, we’ve managed to fill in yet another day but this one outside Rome itself.  Pat shouted us tickets to Tivoli and Villa D’Est. The former was like any big area of ruins…. we’re ruined out!!!!! The tour involved walking but this time mostly on level ground or downhill!!! Don’t quiz us on our history for we’re as vague as we were before the tour!!!! Villa D’Est involved MANY stairs and what goes down must come up! It was worth the effort though for to see these 600 fountains in action -and no mechanics involved- was truly spectacular! Lunch for THREE was half the price of those wretched cuppas we can’t forget!  Our final destination for the day was a ‘pre-run’ for the journey to St Paul Outside The Wall for that is where the Thanksgiving Mass will be held on Monday. All is being prepared – seats out, pavements washed, shop holding Mary MacKillop Souvenirs. This Basilica though much smaller than St Peter’s really feels much bigger. The area surrounding it is not one we’d like to be in at night though. We’re on the final leg home- emails done and we’ll not step out again tonight. Tiredness is catching up earlier and earlier each day!

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