By Barbara Alleman
Member of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church

New Iberia, Louisiana

Most of my life, I dreamed of going to Rome. You can imagine how excited I was in April 2017, when after Mass one weekend, I found a flyer from Magnificat Travel advertising a pilgrimage to Rome in April 2018. I prayed about this for several weeks, as I thought I was too old to be able to do this—I was coming up on my 80th birthday. I think the Holy Spirit decided that was not the case, so I went to Magnificat Travel and paid for the trip.

Excitement mounted as finally April came around. By the time we arrived in Rome, I was too excited to be tired.

The first place we went was St. Callixtus Catacombs, where Fr. Bill Melancon said Mass, which was really special. The next day, we went to St. Peter’s Square for the Papal Audience.

It was so exciting to be so close to Pope Francis. He took his name from St. Francis of Assisi whose hometown we visited the next day. We visited St. Mary of the Angels Basilica with its gold statue of Our Blessed Mother on top. We stayed at the Hotel Giotto, which is on top of a hill—the view from the veranda was spectacular.

We then went to Orvieto, which was the highlight of the trip for me. Seeing the face of Our Savior Jesus Christ on the corporal above which the priest was blessing the bread during Mass so many years ago was truly a miracle.

Then we went back to Rome and visited several Basilicas: St. Peter in Chains, St. Paul Outside the Walls, St. Mary Major and others. They were all equally beautiful; it’s hard to pick the best. Fr. Bill Melancon said Mass every day in one of the churches. It was so special to be in places that I had only read about.

We also saw the Coliseum, the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel.

On our last day, we had a morning retreat at the Shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Help and heard the story of the icon and how it got where it is.

That night we went to a restaurant and got a big surprise: three people sang opera. It was wonderful, and we all said they had saved the best for last. I bought a CD, and I now hear their singing every time I get in my car—such a beautiful memory of my time in Italy.