Some of you may know that our Teaching Parish Seminarian, Michael Thiel, is in Rome for part of the summer. Michael is a seminarian for the Diocese of Green Bay, and is in the priestly formation program at St. Francis de Sales Seminary in Milwaukee. Every seminarian has a Teaching Parish, and we were lucky to get Michael!
Michael’s having a very interesting summer, filled with lots of travels. The diocese of Green Bay sent him to Rome for part of the summer for studies, and he sent a few of us this recent letter, which I thought you might enjoy. (In case you’re wondering from the pictures, Michael is not yet ordained. In some parts of the world, especially Rome, it is customary for seminarians to wear clerical garb.)
Hello from Rome, and a special Happy Fathers Day greeting to Fr. Dave and Fr. Brad.
I got to celebrate my fathers day going to Holy Mass with our Holy Father Francis. Before the Mass began, he toured the square in the Popemobile, and passed just a few feet away from me. He also have a special blessing to thousands of Harley-Davidson riders who were gathered in Rome. The constant rumble of their engines this weekend made me feel right at home.
A few of the subjects I am studying here in Rome include the history, theology, and biblical foundations of the papacy, the second Vatican council, and beauty in Christian art and Architecture. The art and architecture class is one of my favorites, ecause before entering the seminary, I was studying architecture at UW-Milwaukee. A part this class in Rome is taking tours of different basilicas and churches around the city. The majority of the churches are built from Romanesque architecture, which is generally recognized by thick solid walls and rounded arches. One of my personal favorite styles of church architecture is gothic, which I’d generally recognized by pointed arches and larger stained glass windows. In addition to the aethstetic beauty, I also find them theologically beautiful. The tall pillars and pointer arches direct the worshipers’ minds and hearts upwards, towards heaven, towards God. Stained glass windows in addition to revealing a depiction of a saint or scene from the life of Jesus, also let natural light into the sanctuary and nave, just as Christ the light enters into our lives.
One of the few churches built with gothic architecture that I have found here in Rome is Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, which Is the resting place of the body of St. Catherine of Sienna, (another Dominican saint). It is one of many beautiful churches here in Rome.
Lest you think all I do is spend time in class and visiting churches, I have also been enjoying may fair share of cafés for cappuccino and gelato (similar to ice cream). I have also taken several adventures just exploring the streets of Rome. There is always something interesting to see or someone interesting to talk to.
Pray for me.