Animate Pilgrimage to Rome with Archbishop Patrick Kelly

Animate Pilgrimage to Rome with Archbishop Patrick Kelly
By Sarah Beatty

Pictures from the Pilgrimage here.

Friday 13th April

Friday the 13th - unlucky for some, but not so much for the Animate Youth team members past and present as they set off to Rome.

The journey began around 3:30 am with some of the present team being picked up and taken to Manchester Airport for their 6 am flight, which got us there safe and sound with plenty of time to spare for that much needed brew, or soup in Kerrie’s case!  Unfortunately, bad luck day struck Becca as she left her case at the foot of the stairs so needed to travel back to pick it up!  But with just one little glitch, 11 Animators boarded the Ryanair flight to take us to Rome.

On arriving in a rainy Rome there was a quick turnaround as we were due to meet the Archbishop at St Peter's to start our pilgrimage by taking the Scavi tour, in which we walked underneath St Pete'rs Basilica exploring the catacombs and looking at St Peter's tomb and his remains.  After the tour we were able to go into the Basilica itself and see St Peter's in all its glory.

The Archbishop led us around pointing out various statues and paintings, translating Latin and Italian writings for us, so we could fully appreciate what was in front of us.  We all spent some time in prayer in front of the tomb of Blessed John Paul II, which had been moved into the Basilica after he was declared Blessed.

After our tour, Archbishop Patrick, Rebecca Wall and Richard Netherwood (aka Woody) went off to be interviewed by Vatican Radio, where they were asked about the type of work we do as Animate Youth Ministries, young people in the Church today in the UK, and how Woody and Rebecca got involved in Animate.  Rebecca Wall, current Animate volunteer, said 'it was a great opportunity to appear on Vatican Radio, to be able to share the work of Animate and get our name out there and show that young people are still alive in their faith today in the church.'  Listen to the interview here.

Meanwhile the rest of us went to the English College to escape the rain and get a cup of tea!  The group then went for dinner with Archbishop Patrick at a restaurant around the corner from the English College, one of his favourites in which we all enjoyed bruschetta and pizza!  After the meal, we said goodnight to Archbishop Patrick, and went towards the Campo de’Fiori for a drink or two before heading back to the apartments for bed.

Saturday 14th April

Saturday was yet another rainy and early start and was a day to wear our walking shoes as we met Archbishop Patrick at 8 am outside the Basilica of St. Mary Major, also known as Our Lady of the Snows.  After this we saw more basilicas and churches including Our Lady of Victory which holds the Bernini sculpture of the Ecstasy of Saint Teresa.  We also paid a visit to the church and rooms of St Ignatius of Loyola where the Archbishop celebrated Mass with the Animators in the rooms where St Ignatius lived during his time in Rome.  After Mass, the Archbishop led us to another basilica (Santa Maria sopra Minerva) which is the only gothic church in central Rome and has Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor as its Cardinal.

After the tour of the many churches we had a spot of lunch, and then continued our sight seeing by visiting the Trevi fountain, the Pantheon and Bernini’s Fountain of the Four Rivers on Piazza Navona.  Thankfully, God had answered our prayers as it had stopped raining over lunch!

The group then split up, most going with the Archbishop to visit St Paul's Basilica, which is outside of the walls of the City.  Here they have paintings of all previous Popes, all the way back to St. Peter.  Ferg Williams-Tanton, current Animate team member said 'after visiting St Peter's, I couldn’t miss out on visiting the apostle to the gentiles, St Paul, especially as he was the saint whose name I chose for my confirmation name.'

Some of the group decided to stay in Rome for ‘Father Simon Gore Tours’ looking at the Caravaggio paintings, the Spanish Steps and a few other sites of interest before taking a walk down Via del Corsa: Rome’s main shopping street to do some souvenir shopping.
We once again said 'arrivederci' to Archbishop Patrick and had our dinner in a restaurant by the Pantheon.

Sunday 15th April

Today the group managed to have a bit of a lie-in as we met the Archbishop at the English College for mass at 10 am, which he celebrated with Father Stephen Pritchard concelebrating.

After a tour of the college, we walked to St Peter's square to await the arrival of Pope Benedict XVI at the window of the Papal apartments where we, and all gathered in the square, received the Pope's blessing.

We then had some spare time to do a bit more souvenir shopping around St Peter's before heading back to the English College, who kindly allowed us to join the Priests and Seminarians for lunch.

After lunch we set off for the Roman Forum and the Colosseum.  Archbishop Patrick also pointed out to us the Arch of Constantine, whose mother was Helena Augusta, or as we know her, Saint Helen. St Helen found the relics of the True Cross, whom the town of St Helens is named after where we live, and who our sister parish, Holy Cross and St Helen is named after.

The Archbishop then led the group towards the Basilica of St. John Lateran, the last of the four main basilicas in Rome for us to visit.  The basilica is the Pope’s cathedral in Rome as it is where the Popes chair (or Cathedra) is, and it also holds impressive sculptures of the twelve apostles.

After a chance to sit and pray, we headed across the road to have tea and coffee with the Archbishop before he left us to return home.

The group split up once more to do some last minute shopping, have another latte, or see more of what Rome has to offer before having dinner in the Trastevere region of the city, and a couple of drinks before heading back home to catch some sleep before another early start in the morning!