Posted: 5th December 2014

Discupulos Pontemque Cano: A Journey to Ancient Rome

It was 4am on a Friday morning and ten intrepid (if somewhat sleepy) Latin students, led by their magister, Mr. Adam Conry and assisted by Messrs Stephen O’Hara and Tom Carroll, began their long journey to the land of myth and legend: Rome.

After arriving in the city, they began their expedition with a visit to La Scavi, an ancient Roman necropolis situated beneath St. Peter’s Basilica, in which it is believed that St. Peter himself is buried. A unique experience of the reality of history, this was certainly a strong start to the trip. However, there was no time to waste, so after one last look around the Basilica itself, it was off to the Pantheon, a masterpiece of Roman engineering. A final stroll around the picturesque streets finished off the day with a tasteful flourish.

It was an early start on Saturday morning as the group set their sights on the Borghese gallery, an unparalleled collection of magnificent Bernini sculptures, striking Caravaggio paintings and many more amazing works of art. The students’ hunger for something a bit more classical was sated by a visit to the Ara Pacis, Emperor Augustus’ 2000 year old altar of peace.

After a quick break, the group was introduced to Fr. Michael Paul Gallagher, an Irish Jesuit who is the current rector of the Collegio Bellarmino. After showing the group around the Church of the Gesu, the largest Jesuit church in Rome, Fr. Gallagher celebrated Mass with them in the former home of St. Ignatius.

A true highlight of the trip came almost by surprise, as the students suddenly found themselves crossing the Pons Fabricius, a glorious fusion of functional and aesthetic architecture. It was to be another late night of sight-seeing for the indefatigable scholars, as they were spotted examining Trajan’s column at 1am!

The following day was a busy one, starting with one of Rome’s principle attractions: the Colosseum. From there it was a short journey to the centre of ancient history that is the Roman Forum. Here the students discovered such marvels as the Arch of Titus, the Imperial Palace and the Curia. But not satisfied with just one forum, the explorers crossed the city to discover a second forum, that of Trajan, home to the first ever two-storey market.

The trip home was a sad one, as the group reluctantly swapped Rome’s clear skies and 22 degrees for the onset of Irish winter. But, as they returned, the group took consolation in the fact that they could now triumphantly declare: “Venimus, vidimus, pontemque Fabricium transivimus!

Matthew Gibbons

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