Greetings From Rome: Abroad with Mary Cecere
My name is Mary Elise Cecere and I am a junior Drama major at CUA studying abroad in Rome. As a Drama major, Rome seems not to be the first choice for study abroad destinations. However, I am also 50% Italian and I truly love my heritage. Going to the place of my ancestors seemed like a no brainer. And it doesn’t hurt that the food is amazing!
Rome is one of the oldest cities in the world. Everywhere I look is another monument, cathedral, or ruin simply drenched in history. During my time here I have been to such places like the Colosseum, the Palatine Hill, the Roman Forum, the scavi beneath St. Peter’s Basilica, and so many other places it is incredible! My campus is located in the Prati neighborhood, which is in the heart of Rome. It is a ten minute walk to the Castel San’Angelo and a fifteen minute walk from St. Peter’s square.
I may also be one of the luckiest people to ever study abroad in Rome because of the recent Papal resignation, conclave, and election! I was here through it all and participated in many “once in a lifetime” events. In the dorm, we were very confused the day of Pope Benedict XVII’s resignation. First of all, it never occurred to any of us that a pope could actually resign, but we quickly overlooked that factor because we got to be in Rome for a Papal Conclave! You could feel the energy all over the city after this announcement. After we returned from Spring break, my friends and I went to Barcelona and Lisbon (I’ll talk about my travels in blog post!), the conclave began! Cardinals came in from all over the world to be in Rome for this special occasion. St. Peter’s square buzzed with pilgrims and media reporters a like to be a part of this interesting time. I even got an interview with CNN!
Everyone had different predictions for the election ranging from which cardinal looked like the front runner to what day the pope was to be elected. On the second day of the conclave, all of the students from CUA were preparing for our big dinner with Provost Brennen. We received instruction from out program director to meet in St. Peter’s square after the evening vote and consequent smoke. I was standing with my friends all dressed up standing in the rain waiting for this smoke signal. The smoke was to come any time between 5 and 7, so when 7 rolled around we were hungry and fed up waiting for this smoke. At 7:10, the smoke finally came. We heard people say smoke and immediately I thought “Yes! Time for dinner!” until I turned and saw the white smoke billowing out of the chimney. I was in a state of shock, no one had predicted the smoke would come this early in the conclave! After a few quick pictures my friends and I bolted to the front of St. Peter’s square as we listened to the beautiful bell ring the announcement of a new pope! We waiting for about an hour, with thousands of our closest friends huddled around us, for the new pope to greet us. Finally, the cardinals crowded around the windows and the MC announced the new pope to be Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Aregentina! The crowd was initially puzzled; the majority of us never even heard of this man. That didn’t last long for we were then overjoyed with the news of the first Latin American Pope! When pope Francis came out and waved we were all overwhelmed with joy. I will never forget that moment for as long as I live.
Viva Papa Francesco!
Since his election there have been many exciting events here in Rome. I attended his first Sunday Angelus on March 17th and his inaugural Mass on March 19th. Not to mention, I have gotten several rosaries blessed (they just make the best gifts!). One of my high school teachers told me “Everyone is christian when they’re in Rome.” After studying here I can see how that’s possible if not unavoidable. It is a great time to be in Rome and I hope you all will read my next post on food!!