Reflection by: Calvin

Chronicles of a pilgrim – Day 3 – Rome


Day 3 was an exciting day, where we got to 2 of the 4 Major Papal Basilicas in Rome, namely the Archbasilica of St John Lateran and the Papal Basilica of St Mary Major. We even had the opportunity to celebrate the First Sunday of Advent in St Mary Major, which was such a beautiful experience. However, the highlights of today for me happened not in the big famous Basilicas, but in the smaller ones away from the crowds.

Midway through the day, we got to visit the Basilica dei Santi Cosma e Damiano, a quaint church nestled in between the Roman Forum and the Colosseum. As the mother church of the Third Regular Franciscan Order since 1512, there were many friars there that were setting up for mass. What struck me however was seeing one of the local friars, upon noticing Friar John Paul in his habit, strike up a conversation with him, and the two were soon talking like old friends. This revealed the universality of our catholic church, and how truly despite such vast differences in culture and language it is this same triune and universal God that we all worship which makes us all brothers and sisters in christ. It also highlighted the fraternal aspect of the Franciscans, where every friar was truly a brother as part of this family of believers.

After that we visited the Scala Sancta, or the holy steps. Tradition says that St Helena transported to Rome the steps leading up to the praetorium of Pontius Pilate that Jesus walked on, before his trial during the Passion. To get up these steps the only way is on one’s knees, and at the top lies a relic of the crucifix. Even though it was a mere 28 steps, each step felt like agony, and the entire journey was painful and arduous. However it reminded me so much of Jesus’ love for us, and how he humbled himself in his passion out of love for us. Being on the very ground that Jesus stood, and later on also seeing the very crib that he was placed in the manger also made me reflect on how I often forget Jesus as a real historical figure, and seeing these very artefacts also made the figure of Jesus just that little bit more real for me as well.