So, that was amazing. I was in Italy (mostly Rome, with a day trip to Assisi) from Oct. 15-22. I’m also pretty much past the jet lag after returning home on Tuesday.

It was very inspiring to witness the sights of the major basilicas in Rome, to pray at the tombs of saints and blesseds (including: Peter, Paul, Francis, Clare, John Paul II, John XXIII, and to say Mass next to the tomb of St. Columbanus). Seeing the magnificent churches and artwork in person brought to life many things I had only seen in pictures or on Fr. Robert Barron’s Catholicism series. Walking through the excavations underneath St. Peter’s Basilica and the Basilica of San Clemente was moving. Praying in front of the San Damiano cross – the same cross in front of which St. Francis prayed – was especially amazing.

The whole thing connected me in a real, powerful way to the faith of those who have gone before – real, flesh and blood people who aren’t really all that different from me who followed Jesus and inspire me/us to do the same today. The torch of faith has been passed to us.

And I attended the canonization Mass on Oct. 21. Sadly, security in the Vatican wasn’t exactly all that great as too many people were allowed into the seated area for a few of our group (including me) to be able to go in – even though we had tickets. So if you saw the canonization of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha et. al. on TV, you saw and heard way more than me. But it was still special to be there at the moment when Pope Benedict proclaimed that they are henceforth to be called “Saints”! And I could see it in the members of our group who did make it into the seated area of St. Peter’s square that it was an important experience for them, especially for the First Nations people: one of their own has now been recognized as a saint.

Oh, and I got to hang out with Lino Rulli, Fr. Rob Keighron, and a group of cool listeners who were on a pilgrimage that week. I was able to be with them as they broadcast from Vatican Radio (Lino put me on the air a couple of times!) and to go out for supper later. However, like Lino, I had to leave the bar before the karaoke began…

I have a pile of photos up (including lots from the Vatican Museum) on Facebook: Click here for the photo album.

I’ll leave you with a few of my favourite photos.

(Go Riders!!)