We also took some time and went into the Church at the Monastery -- definitely worth the second walk up the hill! Here is a picture of the statue outside the front of the church -- it is of St. Benedict.
A good number of Popes and martyrs were buried there, including St. Cecilia. Many of the bodies of the Popes had been moved to other areas, including St. Cecilia. This was a most excellent tour, and very well worth every moment. The priest shared with us that they kept digging deeper when they needed more graves -- so that's why some are very high in the walls. They kept digging down, lifting the dirt up and out through shafts. It is 15 Centigrade with high humidity all year round in there.
The Romans respected the dead, and so for the most part left the catacombs alone, which left the Christians able to worship secretly down there. It didn't stop the Romans, however, if they suspected something was going on, from going down, pulling people out trying and exectuing them on the spot.
We got back into the bus and were dropped off by the Spanish steps.
It was a very long day, but so gratifying. To walk in the steps of history not only fed my heart but it fed my soul. I feel as though I have a new strata to preach in and from. I also have a burning desire to read Roman history in depth!
We ended our last night in Rome at a restaurant very near to the hotel. We are tired but energized -- how can you not be in this most beautiful city? A city where mission and ministry is happening to address the needs of those who are there today, especially by our own Episcopal Church, when history is surrounding you?