Rome is a city of over 900 churches. Most of these are tucked into tiny, crooked streets, nearly blending in with the rest of the building around them. Most of them, sadly, are closed during the day when we walk past them. It has been one of the biggest ironies of living here: while there are more churches than we could ever hope to see, we have very little way of finding out if or when they’re open, let alone have Mass. Of course, the Internet is again very little help in this matter. In fact, the disconnect between real life and updating the Internet is what caused us to miss 11:30 Mass at S. Maria in Trastevere, a gorgeous ancient church about 15 minutes south of us. It literally took us several hours to hunt and peck through Internet pages to even find their mass schedule, and of course, they decided to up and change the Sunday Masses ONLY for July! So we got there 1.5 hours after Mass… awesome.
This seems to be the case with so many things in Italy. Go in person, find out what’s up, and then you KNOW that it will happen that way again–most of the time. Do not believe what is posted on the internet, official site or otherwise. The only exception to this rule is the exceptional Vatican City, which will tell you what’s what and then help you find a way to get there. Pope Francis is giving no general audiences in July or August, but at least he’ll be saying the Angelus one more Sunday this month, and we’re going to try to make it to that. All of this is to say, the Vatican still has it’s endemic July problem–crowds. We attempted to go to a daily mass that we knew would happen at St. Peter’s at 5pm, but the line just to get into St. Peter’s was probably about an hour long. Since it was already a bit past 5…we missed Mass that day, and didn’t even go into St. Peter’s. We have yet to step foot in that basilica, or any of the other major ones (Lateran, Mary Major, and Paul Outside the Walls for those who keep track). The others are far away, but our only excuse for St. Peter’s is the crowd.
Where were we? Ah, yes, still unchurched…or unmassed…or something. While we feared, for a few brief moments, that in this city of churches we would somehow not make it to Sunday Mass, we were able to find a church closer to home, which had its Mass times posted in several places and included an evening Mass. We got there a bit early to see for ourselves, if the times online were actually correct, and they were. We ended up at quite a gem, and one that I am planning to return to. Santo Spirito in Sassia, which is just a few steps away from San Pietro’s. It’s a church recently dedicated to the devotion of Divine Mercy, so there is a rather large Divine Mercy Image above the tabernacle area, and, Pope John Paul II brought St. Faustina’s heart to the church, and there it resides in a reliquary. Super cool, especially since this is one of my favorite devotions, ever since visiting the apparition site in Poland.
I suppose we shall just have to continue exploring our neighborhood further in order to find out where we can reliably attend Mass regularly. And that’s fine by us!