Rome – Day 6: “FALL BACK!” Edition – REQUEST FOR PRAYERS

In Rome, where I am right now, we set our clocks back now, 25/26 October.

Therefore, I get an extra hour of sleep which I am obviously not having, because I am posting this.

This “fall back” change isn’t such a big deal for us who have Mass to attend. If we screw up we are an hour early for Mass.

In the USA, however, the time change will be Sunday Nov 2 (All Souls).

Perhaps later in the day, if I am walking around, I might find some Roman “clock” stuff.  It has been a while since I have seen, for example, the sun clock in Santa Maria deli Angeli, built into the remains of the huge Baths of Diocletian.

At SM degli Angeli there is a tiny hole in the roof which, creating a pin-hole camera, allows a beam of sunlight, an image of the solar disk, to strike the floor below. Your Earth’s yellow sun’s image moves across the floor of the basilica. At solar noon it crosses the meridian point. This served as Rome’s official clock for a long time. At noon, a flag would go up from the roof and a canon on the Gianicolo Hill would boom out to mark the day. It memory serves, noon was the real mark of a day because it could be more easily identified than midnight, for obvious reasons. Thus also, the nautical day began at noon, as Capt. Aubrey would surely explain were he here. There is, at SM degli Angeli another pin-hole camera set up for the the star Polaris, though I am not sure how that worked.

If you keep your eyes open when walking around in Rome, you will start spotting everywhere sundials of one type or other. Off the top of my head I can picture one built into the wall of what was once the Jesuit Collegio Romano. At Montecitorio there is one built into the pavement with one of the 13 ancient obelisks as the gnomon (shadow caster). That obelisk had actually been the gnomon of August Caesar’s sundial. The obelisk of St. Peter’s Square casts a shadow on a large clock/calendar in the pavement. There are lots of others, as well.

More later.


Another shot from yesterday.


Some were wondering about the path of the procession.  We left San Lorenzo in Damaso and went toward the Tiber on the…



We passed by this (though I shot the photo today).  This is an ancient pomerium stone from the time of the Emperor Claudius.  You can see another across the river at the Basilica of St. Cecilia.


The pomerium stones marked the border of the inner city beyond which a man with imperium as a provincial governor or a general of an army was unable to pass without losing his mandate.  Thus, anything he would have done would have been illegal.  That was supposed to prevent men such as Julius Caesar from entering the city center with an army.  The pomerium was a theoretical boundary, rather than a wall, with religious overtones.

Meanwhile, my view from my seat in choro yesterday.


I enjoyed watching this little kid serve the Pontifical Mass.  He was the only one near his age and size and the only other one in bright red other than Card. Levada.



I didn’t go to look for Roman clocks, as I thought I would. Instead, I decided to get sick.  I spent many years in Rome, and I was often ill.  There’s something about this place, I guess.  Why should that change for this trip?  Oh well.  Anyway, I did sally forth for supper.

I went to a Tuscan place nearby, which I used to take friends to in the past.  They have the same owners, which isn’t as common as one might think in Rome these days.  The restaurant scene here is, with a few exceptions, now a moving target.  Once upon a time, it was nearly impossible to find a bad meal.  That’s not the case anymore, and it hasn’t been for years.  This is not just my more refined Italian palate talking, either.  You can get really bad food here now.  But if that’s the case, it is also possible to get food that is far better than anything that was available in yesterday, in the 80’s and 90’s.  You have to develop the eye for the restaurant, find the clues, engage your “sense ragno”, which I have in spades when it comes to restaurants.  I digress.

Tonight, I had one lightening fast glance at the menu at this Tuscan place I know and the choice was made.

Coniglio in umido.



Just what I guy who has felt the way I felt today needed.  We all have our comfort foods.  It is interesting that I have different comfort foods in Rome than I have at home.  Which raises the question: Where’s home?

I guess the medicine is getting to me.

Anyway… as a side, cicoria in padella and a puré di fave.  Did you know that “padella” is Roman slang for the Roman hat that clerics wear?  Another word is “saturno”, for obvious reasons.


I actually swiped my bread around the plate after this, which I am not so often moved to do these days.


You would say: Ho fatto la scarpetta. That’s an idiom for wipe the plate with a piece of bread.

On the way out of the risto, I spotted this sign in a nearby bookseller’s joint.  I love the free market.  These folks are enterprising, and they have a good sense of humor.


Just a shot up an narrow way which reminded me of the atmosphere of the novel I have on the workbench.


Tomorrow, if I am still alive…


Pray for me and the swift intervention of St. Raphael.  Please.  I feel dreadful.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. jameeka says:

    Fr Z, thank you very much for your generous photography–the top photo of the procession is very cool, illustrating your sundials exactly! You have the catbird’s seat in these pictures.

  2. gloriainexcelsis says:

    A bit of history I don’t remember. Thank you, Father. Re: the little one. I always loved watching the youngest in training, in procession and sitting with hands on knees. One little fellow sticks in my mind. From the time he had received his First Holy Communion, began to process in, before being able to serve, he had the most angelic expression I had ever seen. A small smile always played about his lips – always. Each year I watched. His expression never changed. He must have been about ten when I moved to Texas from CA. He must be sixteen years of age now. I’m far away, but still see him vividly. He may have been a brat at home, but somehow I don’t think so. I wonder, does he still have that look and that perpetual, small smile.

  3. truthfinder says:

    In the procession, is that cassock green? To which community would he belong?

  4. VexillaRegis says:

    Prayers for you, father! I hope you haven’t caught the Argentine flu, just a slight cold that’s gone tomorrow :-)!

  5. Sid Cundiff in NC says:

    I am praying for your improved health. Few things are worse than to get sick away from home. I know the feeling. In 2012, when Italy was having its biggest snow storm in 25 years, I got so sick I couldn’t keep my food down.

    As for restaurants, you avoid names; and perhaps this is wise, for nothing ruins a place faster than popularity. I agree that it is indeed possible to have bad meals in Rome, chiefly in the Vatican area and the area around the Forum Romanum. I have always relied on Chowhound [dot] com, the Italian board, for advice; many of the regulars there are food critics who live in Rome. To date they’ve never led me astray.

    His dictis, because the food situation in Rome has become iffy, I urge you to post on your blog “Fr. Z’s Gastronomic Guide to Rome”, and then invite others to share their own lists. Your tastes are impeccable, and your honesty is beyond question. So you would be a good guide.

  6. wanda says:

    Thank you, Fr. Z., for sharing the sights, goings-on and the tasty-looking food photos. I will pray for your speedy recovery before the Blessed Sacrament tonight.

  7. Grateful to be Catholic says:

    May I recommend Italian green vegetable soup, zuppa di verdura, hot and plenty? It kept me alive on my first visit to Rome exactly 20 years ago when I had walking pneumonia. It should be made with white wine, but tip some in from your glass. Feel better soon, Father!

  8. Mike says:

    Prayers ascending for recovery to full health of body and soul — Pater, Ave, Gloria; and to fulfill your request, this from the 1910 Raccolta:

    O glorious Archangel, St. Raphael, great Prince of the heavenly court, illustrious for thy gifts of
    wisdom and grace, guide of those who journey by land or sea, consoler of the afflicted, and refuge of sinners; we beg thee to assist Father in all his needs and in all the sufferings of this life, as once thou didst help the young Tobias on his travels. And because thou art the medicine of God, we humbly pray thee to heal the many infirmities of his soul, and the ills which afflict his body, if it be for his greater good. We specially ask of thee an angelic purity which may fit him to be the temple of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

  9. Back pew sitter says:

    Good to see the young lad there! But was Cardinal Levada there too? I’m surprised to hear that.

  10. albinus1 says:

    If you look at the last line of the Claudius pomerium inscription, you see what I think is an example of the digamma inversum, a letter looking like an upside-down “F”. It was one of three letters that Claudius attempted to add to the alphabet as a spelling reform. These never caught on permanently, but some examples survive in inscriptions and are mentioned in some authors. The digamma inversum was apparently intended to represent the consonantal “V,” a sound similar to the English “W” sound. In modern Latin orthography it is customary to write “V” for the consonantal sound (however one pronounces it) and “U” for the vowel. In antiquity they were represented by the same letter. Claudius’ suggested letter represents an early attempt to disambiguate them in writing. If I’m really seeing it and my eyes aren’t playing tricks on me, I think this is the first actual example of it I have seen in an inscription.

  11. StWinefride says:

    Fr Z says: Which raises the question: Where’s home?

    Answer: Home is where the heart is!

    Praying to St Raphael and Our Lady for your speedy recovery!

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