The Nuptial Mass was celebrated at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Covina--the parish I have always attended since childhood. It was celebrated by my uncle, the incredible priest, Father Peter Irving, whom I've talked a bit about him here on this site. We were deeply honored to have a number of other close priest friends there concelebrating: Fr. Ed Gomez, Fr. Michael Robinson, Fr. Brian Cavanagh, Fr. Scott Daughtery (also mentioned on this blog!), and Fr. Gregory Elder.
The Mass was very beautiful. The music was exceptional. We were very blessed to have the Sacred Heart Adult Choir, directed by Patrick Flahive (who was my grammar school music teacher), in the choir loft. There was a lot of Gregorian Chant--it was awesome!
We were very blessed to have a number of people also come from far away--thanks to the Scott, Kimberly, Michael, Jeremiah, Joe, and David Hahn and Kristin Geers for making the long trip!
Of course, I could go on and on thanking everyone who made it possible. The most important thanks goes to our parents, Tom and Ilene Gilmore and Patrick and Theresa Barber--from them we have learned the most important lessons about living the Christian faith. We are both so grateful to be part of one another's families.
The honeymoon was incredible. About five months ago, my sisters and cousins asked us out to dinner. They told us what they wanted to give us for a wedding present--a dream honeymoon to Rome (Italy, of course, not Alaska).
For two newly-wed Catholics, who both hold advanced degrees in theology, it just can't get any better than that! In fact, we were thinking of simply taking a drive up the coast after the wedding. The only far away locale we mused over was Rome--not truly thinking it was a realistic possibility.
We spent a week there. Here's a short summary.
We started off at the Wednesday general audience with Pope Benedict. We then went to St. Peter's Basilica. We did the Scavi tour under the Basilica, where one can see the excavation that has been done under the Church establishing the virtually certain site of the burial of St. Peter. That has to be among the most amazing things one can see while in Rome.
We then went to the Vatican museums where we spent 4 hours looking around. They have the picture that's on the cover of Coming Soon--an original work done by Raphael. There are so many famous works of art there it is unbelievable. They also have the archeological discoveries of ancient Egypt--including pictures and hieroglyphics from the period of the Exodus, including an image on stone of the Pharaoh who opposed Moses! It is incredible to think that these stones actually were sitting around while Egypt was being run over with locusts and frogs.
The tour ends with the Sistine Chapel, which is, of course, where they elect the new pope. The majority of the work was done by Michelangelo. The ceiling has that famous picture of God's finger touching Adam's in the center. The wall behind the altar is Michelangelo's Last Judgment.
After the museums we took a long walk--which is an awesome thing to do in Rome. It was fun for me because I remember how to get around. I can actually pretty much do it on on foot on my own. We walked from St. Peter's first over to the Pantheon, which was first built by Herod Agrippa. Of course, he was the Herod who condemned Jesus to death and handed him over to Pontius Pilate. He also had John the Baptist beheaded. The original building burned and it was rebuilt by Marcus Agrippa in 125 A.D. It still stands, and is the most ancient intact building in Rome. The building was once a Roman pantheon--a place for all the Roman gods. Now it is a Catholic Church and has priceless works of Christian art all around it.
We then went over to the Trevi Fountain. The legend is that if you throw a coin in the Trevi while you're in Rome you'll one day return. So far it has worked for Kim and I, so, of course, we did it again. Along our walk we also stopped in numerous churches (there's one on every corner--and all of them are spectacular!), including St. Ignatius' and St. Rita's. We also stopped in Herder's book store.
We then visited Santa Maria Maggiore (St. Mary Major), which is really the most important church dedicated to Mary in the whole world. One tidbit important to us Americans--it is said that the ceiling was made with the gold received by Queen Isabella from Christopher Columbus' first trip to the new world. The gold was donated to Rome.
We also went to the Basilica of John Lateran--the Pope's cathedral. A cathedral is a church with the bishop's "cathedra" or "chair"--this is the Pope's, the bishop of Rome. For seven centuries it was the primary Roman Church--since the Avingon excursion, the primary church of the Pope's has really become St. Peter's. Technically, however, his seat is here in John Lateran--a more ancient church. This church has some of the most amazing relics and statues you'll see anywhere, including the supposed-table on which Jesus celebrated the Last Supper. The blessed sacrament chapel has the gold which was taken by Cleopatra in a battle, later given to Augustus (Caesar when Christ was born), inherited by the Emperor Constantine, who used it first to build a temple and then, after his conversion, donated it to the Church. It finally is now in the Lateran. How's that for history!
We also got to go to the holy steps--an ancient site traced back to St. Helen, Constantine's mother.
One of the last things we did was make a trip out to St. Paul's Basilica. Of course, the greatest thing about this church is that St. Paul is buried here--something recently confirmed by an archeological dig. The findings are visible through a glass floor under the altar! This hadn't been done the last time we were here! Here's the news story as it appeared in 2005 when it made headlines (also here). St. Timothy, Paul's close friend a spiritual "child", is buried next to him there. The church also contains the portraits of every single pope through Pope Benedict XVI in chronological. These portraits surround the church. Up above are huge paintings of the life of St. Paul which start in chronological order and wrap around the church.
The greatest part of the visit was that Mass was about to begin when we got there so we got to celebrate the Eucharist there! It was in Italian, but we knew what was going on.
The last day we took a trip out to see the papal summer home in Castel Gandolfo. It is quite beautiful out there.
Thanks so much Noree', Tracee', Julia, Marita, Georgie, Beau, Peter, Kateri and Kellie! We will be able to thank you enough for sending us on this trip!
We made it back and, as much as we love Rome, it was good to be home.
Biblical posts to resume shortly...