Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A Walk in Annecy, France

This is a video clip of when we were walking through the very old town of Annecy, right on the eastern border between Switzerland and France. If you look closely, you might be able to pick me out of the crowd. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Christmas in France: Lyons

We are only a week away from exams (my first here in Rome) and so I have been studying for the last weeks in order to prepare myself for them. However, I do want to take some time to "flashback" to my experience in Southern France during Christmas.

The above picture is of the city of Lyons. It lies in the eastern part of France, right before entering the Alps. It used to be, I believe, a Roman outpost during the Roman Empire. It is one of the oldest Christian cities in the world, with connections all the back to the 1st Century.

Yet if its history is not enough, as you can see, the city is quite beautiful. There are two rivers which run through city, the Saone and the Rhone. There is a large church to the right in the picture which happens to be the Cathedral of Lyons. It actually used to be bigger, but during the French Revolution, most of the building was destroyed. Actually, most of the churches in Lyons are from the 19th Century (or rebuilt) because of the French Revolution. When speaking with an elderly lady in one of the churches, she revealed a lot regarding the peoples' view of the Revolution. The majority of people outside of Paris were very much against it, and many historical churches and other sites were destroyed and looted. Though the French became free from monarchy, they lost many other aspects of French history as well, and so the Revolution is somewhat of a painful memory to the French people.

Our group was only able to stay in Lyons for a day, regretfully. We visited two basilicas and the historic area of the city. The historic area had little shops all over the place and roads for people to walk on (no cars like in Rome!). There was about four inches of snow on the ground, so the whole place looked picturesque. We grabbed some crepes and "vin chaud" (delicious hot wine with spice) and then went up to the basilica on the hill overlooking the city. The basilica there reminded me a lot of Montreal, Quebec, with the Basilica (like St. Joseph's Oratory in Montreal) being built on the hill with the entire city below. Everyone in the city seemed to be very busy...and then I realized that they were getting ready for Christmas, of course! I had forgotten that the Christmas season was about to begin in only a few days. It was very strange to be able to watch the hustle and bustle without being a part of it.

Veramente bellissima, no?

It was a great experience to get such a historical and cultural perspective during the Christmas break. The buildings and city looked so untouched by the world of today (at least the old part of it). There were still little family shops, cobblestones, lamps needing to be lit, and smoke rising from a thousand or more chimneys (all the old buildings still had them sticking out of the rooftops).

Well, I must get back to my studies. After reading over what I have just written, I must admit that I have failed to express the profound sense I got when I entered this ancient city. The strangest thing was that it was not like Rome, which has buried its past underneath of it. Lyons still had the feeling of a living past which is alive in the present moment, and that I had entered into a history greater than I could never fully comprehend. I liked that sense; to be able to enter into such a history--which was still happening! Really, I think I was getting a European sense of history, which is obviously new for me. I am certainly hoping to have this sense again as I travel around Europe in the future.

I will continue my "Christmas story" soon. Ciao for now!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A Roman Christmas Present: Meeting the Pope

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

I promise to be updating the blog soon about what I have been up to in the last three weeks, but first I wanted to attach this link below. The NAC was able to have a private audience with the Pope this past Saturday for the 150th Anniversary of the College. Somehow I ended up on Vatican TV, and you can see me if you look carefully!

It was an incredible and profound experience. I was able to get only two feet away from the Pope as he was passing by. How many blessings; it's like Christmas again and again!
God bless you during this New Year! Ad Multos Annos!

The Vatican