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I Cannot Be Afraid Anymore

I never wanted to believe that this day would come, but I am writing to you for the very last time from Rome. I write out of a slight ignorance, as I should probably be studying for my exams tomorrow, but I am inspired and I will write.

It seems as if living in Rome has only become a palpable reality in the past few days. For me, this is what has made this trip a true learning experience. I have lived in Rome, not merely vacationing or sightseeing, but living and breathing and relaxing in the same space as the Romans. I can walk with a confidence in the morning to class. I can give directions to lost tourists. I have soaked up the Italian culture and it has rewarded me. Of course, over the five weeks I have been here I have learned many facts about the Italian people, about the expanse of the Roman Empire and the strength of the Renaissance and Baroque movements. But, I would say none of these compare to the real lessons I have learned.
My favorite movie of all time is Good Will Hunting
Recent posts

Walking With Caravaggio

Today, I wandered the streets of Rome with Caravaggio. Now, this sentence seems absurd, right? Traveling the streets of Rome with a man dead long for over 400 years. Crazy, I know. But, let me continue anyway. I suppose it is best to start from the beginning. Caravaggio was a hipster. He could not stand the status quo of the Renaissance that preceded him by 50 years, nor could he sympathize with the Mannerists, who were much more recent and vivid in the artistic memory of Rome. He was a revolutionary, completing the innovation began by Giotto--the artist who gave the first inklings toward a new age in the Renaissance. Giotto was 300 years before Caravaggio. It takes some guts to imagine it, but do you think Caravaggio knew the impact of his work, his completion of the new revolution of art? There is no way to know, but it is certain Caravaggio was willing to break from all that was previously known within the canon of the Renaissance and even Greco-Roman times.
Caravaggio executed th…

The Revolution of the Renaissance

Before I left the train station for Florence, I bought a book titled, On Revolution by Hannah Arendt, a twentieth century political theorist and philosopher. I read the first chapter on the train ride into Florence, which is my weekend destination. It seemed so casual that this was the book I chose, but it has widened my perspective not only on what the American and French Revolution entailed (on which the book focuses), but also has given me some insights into what the word revolution has meant throughout history.
The word revolution derives originally as an astronomical term coined by Copernicus in his heliocentric model. It was used to describe a complete journey of a planet around a star. For example, the Earth makes one revolution around the sun each year. This denotation of the word revolution has several consequences. First, the revolution makes a circle, signaling the return to some original position, a retrograde to the beginning. Second, the revolution of the planets around…

Yes, I Am Learning

Rome is relentlessly breathtaking. I am amazed that to the people who live in Rome, Rome is simply home, just as Arkansas is home to me. Life here has slowed down from the first week, and I am enjoying it more. While during the first week we were able to see the main "highlights" of the city, I felt mostly like a tourist. Now don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the Colosseum and Roman Forum, Hadrian's Villa and Villa d'Este, the Pantheon and Trevi Fountain. Each of these are monuments to a time and place in which by human efforts the human race was able to create beautiful and powerful things. However, by transitioning from tourist to student, I have been able to find the small things about Rome, which contribute to its beauty in an equal amount.

First, as the days continue to pass, each new day on my walk to class I feel more at home in this Eternal City. I get unlawfully angry at tourists (of which I suppose I am one as well) who stand in the middle of the road star…

A Marriage, A Monk, A Train, A Town, A Saint

June 11th 11:00
Dinner Thursday night offered my roommate Brock and I the opportunity to catch up with a friend and mentor of mine from high school, Father Elijah, who is studying for his doctorate in Rome. We spent the evening entertaining the topics of our lives, the pope, things to do in and around the Eternal City, and let funny stories keep the conversation alive. The highlight of the night included Elijah scaring the Spanish family next to us by putting up his monastic hood and sneaking behind them. It is always refreshing to have a night to relax and inspire each other, especially through the life of a monk. We went to bed Thursday night with plans to travel to Castel Gandolfo Friday evening. With excited anticipation we trudged through the school day and left immediately to our destination. Castel Gandolfo is the summer residence of the pope located on Lake Albano. The train ride is cheap (€4 round-trip) and took only an hour. We arrived at our stop and were met by the be…

A Pope, A Middle Name, A Day to Never Forget

Do you remember in elementary school when teachers would make you draw a picture of your hero? For most everyone, including myself, it was their parents. My artistic drawing included my world renowned stick figures with elaborate lettering saying who the poorly drawn figure was. I can remember this cheesy activity vividly, but the more I thought about it today, I remembered how important it is to have heroes, human heroes we can look up to and admire. In a culture where box office block-busters depict super heroes who make you question what a hero even is, it is comforting to be optimistic in the goodness of a hero.

Well, yesterday I met my hero. While Pope Francis became pope long after I was in grade school, it is obvious to most people even remotely close to me that I hold this man in high esteem. Was it the fact that I own a Pope Francis t-shirt that gave it away? Or perhaps how we share a name, my middle name being Francis? Shout out to Mom and Dad for that one. He is not only my…

St. Peter's Basilica

The last couple days have been some of the most beautiful, fast paced, fulfilling, and at some points hellish days of my life. Here are the things I have done since the last post:

June 2:
Trevi Fountain
Spanish Steps
Piazza del Popolo

June 3:
Hadrian's Villa
Villa d'Este

June 4:

June 5:
Roman Forum
Mass at Santa Maria

June 6 (Today):
Vatican Museums
Saint Peter's Basilica

I have gone to bed every night more exhausted than the night before. But, every day keeps getting better, culminating with our trip to the home of the popes today at the Vatican. The Vatican will be the subject of this post, but I promise to post about everything on the list above as the experiences at each deserves a post.

Now, onto the post.

A PRE-POST WARNING: I did not take pictures inside St. Peter's. First, my phone and camera would not have done it justice. If you want to see a picture, google one. It will be better than the pictures I would have taken. S…