Vatican gardens


It is only six weeks since I left Italy to begin the Chicago studies at the Liturgical Institute. A lot has happened in that time. To be honest I have found it difficult to re-adjust to life here with at the de la Salle brothers community. The intensity of the study, the prayer, and the community life of Mundelein University is past and it has been difficult to start reading on my own again.

However the Liturgical Institute has left me with some great books to read. I spent much of today on one reflecting on the implementation on the Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on the Liturgy (Sacrosanctum Concilium). Sadly most Catholics know little of the beauty of this document and all that it calls us to in the celebration of the Mass. Most Catholic’s think that Vatican II made a couple of changes: 1. the priest faces the people and 2. the Mass is in English (our vernacular). Well there are sixteen documents of the Council, and these two changes are ‘options’ from ONE of the sixteen documents. There is a wealth of treasure in all the Conciliar documents, especially in the liturgy document. More on this later.

I treated myself yesterday to a tour of the Vatican gardens. It was a wonderful experience and we must make it a part of any future OLV pilgrimage to Rome. A happy side-effect of the tour is that you can skip the queue to the museum, and when the garden tour finishes they leave you in the museum.

A few photos from the visit. First some great and rare views of the dome:






and the pagoda given to Pope John XXIII by the Chinese people – a favourite stopping place for him on his walks.


I imagine that he is sitting here writing bits of Sacrosanctum Concilium:

Below is the Lourdes grotto. It was gifted to John XXIII by the diocese of Lourdes in 1958 – the year of his election and the 100th anniversary of the Lourdes apparitions. It is an exact replica of the Lourdes grotto where the OLV pilgrimage celebrated Mass early one May morning in 2008. The altar in this grotto was from the original Lourdes Church where Bernadette prayed and was a part of the gift to the pope.


The guide told us that the Lourdes grotto is a favourite place for Pope Benedict XVI. She mentioned that he walks here and then through the French garden back to his car around 5 most afternoons.

and the Italian Garden

they say that a real Italian garden should only have different shades and shapes of green so I’m not sure what the red flowers are doing in there.

And a final favourite corner. After studying architecture and art over the past few weeks I have a new appreciation of the ability that these have to speak to us of divine realities. I liked the way the baroque dome of St Peters was reflected in the rose arches in this photo.


and finally finally – there are plants from all over the world growing in these gardens, from cacti to ferns and everything in between. Even trees from Australia:



and finally finally finally – I thought you might like to see the pope’s heliport:


but that’s a pretty dull picture to leave you with so here is another of the dome through the trees:


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