In mid-November, the students of Thomas More College ventured from Rome to Naples, which lies on the southern coast of Italy. Exploring Naples took the form of a pilgrimage. Guided by Corinne Manella, Resident Director at the Thomas More Campus in Rome, the students visited an assortment of local churches, including: San Paulo Majore, San Lorenzo Majore, The Naples Duomo, and the Pio Monte della Misericordia, which houses Carravagio’s famous painting: The Seven Acts of Mercy (pictured on the right). Afterward, the group walked down the Via San Gregoria Armeno, a street packed with a multitude of artists who make intricate hand-made miniature figures for nativity scenes.
“To see master craftsman putting that amount of skill and effort into creating something so miniature, something that most people purchase from the Christmas decoration section at their local department store was both fascinating and inspiring,” says Adam Kubiak. “Each piece was a miniscule sculptural masterpiece; some even had moving parts and running water.”
The pilgrims spent the evening relaxing on the vast coastline beyond Naples, sitting on a dock and praying a rosary before heading to their guest house at the local Dominican Convent.
The next morning was spent traveling to Pompeii, a city near Naples that was destroyed by the catastrophic volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D. Pompeii is especially well known for its ruins, which, after excavation, revealed the bodies of victims preserved under a coat of volcanic rock. The sight provided an extraordinary insight into the daily life of a city at the height of the Roman Empire.
Apart from seeing ruins, some of the students had the opportunity to visit the famous image of Our Lady of Pompeii. The picture is a possession of Bartolo Longo, a Third Order Dominican lawyer who inaugurated a confraternity of the Rosary in Pompeii. After being provisionally exposed in a small declining chapel, miracles were reported and pilgrims began to frequently venerate the image. It portrays Our Lady of the Rosary with Saint Dominic and Saint Catherine of Siena.
John Audino shares his perspective on seeing the miraculous picture: “We waited over two and a half hours in line to see the image. The wait was a pilgrimage in itself!” For him, praying the rosary among the crowd and slowly progressing to the veneration at the end was a memorable end to a weekend of spiritual growth.