A visitor recalls stay at The Lay Centre

Microsoft Word - Documento3Numerous groups visit or stay at The Lay Centre throughout the year. Some guests even write back to share their memories and highlights. Linda Galvin did just that. She was with the group from Ripon College Cuddesdon (UK), who stayed at The Lay Centre, from 8 to 14 September. Ripon College Cuddesdon offers formation toward ordained and lay ministry in the Anglican Church. Here is what Linda Galvin wrote:

Maybe it’s a wee bit nostalgic to imagine Audrey Hepburn discovering the delights of Rome. But nevertheless this Roman holiday was more of a pilgrimage to discover the origins of the Christian faith in the earthly bound Eternal City and which has left a lasting impression of constancy and commitment.

Arriving in the early hours of Monday morning, it was left to my imagination what the view might be from the window of my room, as we were welcomed to The Lay Centre at Foyer Unitas. But nothing prepared me for the sheer beauty and sense of antiquity, as I looked out to see the Coliseum at the foot of the garden and, in the distance, the Palatine Hill and other landmarks I’d only read about. …

Strolling along cobbled streets and entering houses, where first-century Christians began to meet in secret; circumnavigating the walls of the Coliseum and peering down into the arena space, imagining how it must have felt to be waiting to be brought out to a public spectacle and certain death; hearing about St Peter’s cruel death in the Circus of Nero and seeing where his remains were buried, originally outside the Vatican necropolis. All of these things brought to life those dry, dusty textbooks that we study.

Perhaps the most poignant moment came as we gathered below ground and stood together in the building where they believe St Paul was held whilst he was under house arrest and listened to a reading from his Second Letter to Timothy, all the while feeling very close to the zealous “apostle”.

From the past to the present, we also had the opportunity to visit and hear about the work of the Comunità di Sant’Egidio, a group of lay Christians who sacrificially devote some of their spare time to working with many disadvantaged groups within the city. …

Even the papal audience, which meant several hours sitting under the glaring sun, was both interesting (Can there be such a thing as a papal groupie?) and at the same time inspirational. …

A huge amount of thanks must go to Cathy Ross who organised everything, and who walks very fast; David Moxon, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s representative to the Holy See, who welcomed us to the Anglican Centre in Rome, and Donna Orsuto and all of her staff at The Lay Centre, who nourished us both physically and spiritually. New sights, new friendships, new understandings. Ciao!

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