Yesterday and today were two very different but amazing experiences.
Thursday we traversed above ground to Sant' Ambrogio with Father Ambrose. He was a wonderful tour guide through the Curia for the Subiaco order...the rest of the monastery building used to be a college for Benedictine monks, then a convent, and now apartment buildings and a disco! My favorite item in the whole tour of ancient excavation, chapel, and artwork was a fresco in their little chapel that used to be in the sisters chapter room long ago. It is a depiction of Jesus being taken down from the cross and placed in Mary's arms. There are some faithful men on one side and faithful women on the other...not what touched me. Mary Magdalene knelt at Jesus feet with her red hair loose and flowing as she embraced and kissed his wounded feet. Just to the right of her on the edge of the painting, there were two Benedictine nuns kneeling and watching her adoration. I wished they had a print of this image, but I took a picture to share when I get home.
After touring us about his house, Father Ambrose took us on a short cut through Trastevere and the side alleyways of the Jewish Ghetto to Santa Cecilia's Basilica. Sister Margaret took us on an amazing tour through their chapel and the lower ruins of the family home. All I have to say is WOW! Erin remembered to light a candle at elegant statue commemorating St. Cecilia to beg her prayers not only for Sr. Jane, but to also ask Jane to pray for musical vocations.
Today we delved below ground into Saint Peter's Scavi. As we twisted and turned through the narrow gaps, I kept being amazed at how well the frescoes and plaster survived being buried beneath tons of earth and the marble filled basilica. The marble sarcophaguses were also preserved with amazing details intact! Our tour guide was a sharp woman who has studied religious and cultural icons/symbols. She made a few jokes about being better than Professor Langdon and Dan Brown...she promises that she shared all her 'secret' knowledge. Actually, she had some very interesting bits about the use of images and wonderful stories. I must admit that I was very happy to breath the fresh air when we returned to the surface.
By the by...it has been marvelously cool and a bit rainy for us. So I'm keep my fingers crossed that the weather will continue to be graced!