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News 2009

Visit to the "City of the Popes"

viterbo1Yesterday, Sunday, November 22nd, the community of Servant Sisters in Rome went with a group of girls to the city of Viterbo, which is called the "City of Popes" because it was the Papal See for nearly 25 years.

We arrived a little before 11:00 am and went to see the shrine and house of Saint Rose of Viterbo. The incorrupt body of the saint, who died in the thirteenth century, can be found there. We also visited her house, which has now been made a chapel. The Tabernacle is located where the saint died and there still remains a fireplace and a window from the time in which she lived there.

Afterwards we went to Mass at the Church of Saint Faustinus, where a very ancient image of the Virgin to whom many miracles are attributed is venerated. Afterwards we searched for a place to eat and we sat in a square next to the Basilica of Saint Francis. We met two American girls who are studying in Viterbo, who joined our pilgrimage and showed us several places they knew.

viterbo3On the steps of the Cathedral of St. Lawrence we had a meeting about truth and freedom. The girls made good reflections about what true freedom is and how this cannot occur unless there is a genuine commitment to the truth.

Before returning to the station to catch the train back to Rome, we visited the cathedral where several popes and St. Valentine and St. Hilarius are buried. We also visited the "Palace of the Popes," where the Conclave Room is found. They explained the origin of the term "conclave," which emerged precisely there. During the time when it was the Papal See, several popes were elected there.

viterbo2In past times, when the cardinals met to elect the Pope, they were not enclosed but could communicate with the outside world. However outside influences made it difficult to reach an agreement and in fact there was an election in Viterbo that lasted almost three years. The authorities decided to shut the cardinales in under lock and key ( "cum clave"), to speed up the decision. As this did not seem sufficient to accelerate the process, they even started to take away the ceiling of the room and restrict the amount of food and water given. Hence comes the term "conclave" and the reason why the popes are now elected in this way.

On the way to the station we could also pass by to venerate the body of Saint Jacinta Marescotti, a seventeenth-century nun who was well known for her deep devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. Throughout the day, we experienced the presence of Our Lord and Our Mother through the examples of the saints we visited.

"The LORD has done great things for us; we are glad."
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