Bus 15 pilgrims from St Aloysius College share more journal excerpts from their Italian pilgrimage.
Day 3, July 18: Venice
Following a vigorous schedule of flights, rushed naps and an unhealthy amount of Burger King, Bus 15 lay awaiting their journey amidst the streets of Venice. With jet lag setting in for many of the pilgrims, we started off the day with an early rise at the hotel.
We proceeded to catch a bus and a ferry to the heart of Venice, St Mark’s Square, visiting the famous Doge’s Palace. With a local tour guide, we saw breath taking artworks and architecture from the moment we entered. The tour guide reassured us that despite the city’s tendency to sink twelve centimetres every one hundred years, we were on safe ground.
The palace was one of the city’s most historic centres, being linked to Napoleon Bonaparte’s thieving of paintings and famous artists such as Tintoretto.The most fascinating room in the enormous palace was undoubtedly the meeting room for aristocrats, able to facilitate over 2,000 people under the wall to wall artworks. The artworks were comprised of over 500 portraits and were bordered by 24 carat gold leaf.
The guide reassured us that despite the city’s tendency to sink twelve centimetres every one hundred years, we were on safe ground.
The tour then proceeded to a slightly more grim environment. The pilgrims ventured down three flights of stairs to a narrow hallway, leading to the prison cells of the palace. It was here we learnt of the gruesome punishments that permeated Venetian rule. This prison was also closely connected to the famous ‘Bridge of sighs’ where convict prisoners saw their last view of Venice.
Following the tour of the palace we took a few steps down to the adjacent St Marks Basilica. The church’s walls were nothing short of masterpieces. We looked up to witness three gold plated domes which dominated the Church’s ceiling.
The overwhelming sense of Venetian pride was clear within the tour. The guide was passionate about Venice standing tall as a unique city within Italy.
This experience was a deep reminder of how lucky we are. Gifted with the opportunity, we remain thankful to our loving parents who are sure to be jealous of our World Youth Day experience.
– Oliver Boyle and Michael Firth
Day 4, July 19: Venice & Florence to Assisi
Just out of Venice and we, like all the other pilgrims, were awoken on a humid Italian morning to the alarming sound of a wake up call. The rush of adrenaline was immediately pumping through us, ecstatic and exited for our journey to Florence and Assisi ahead.
The whole experience left us able to understand just how far Catholicism permeated the lives and culture of Italians.
As our scenic trip through the Italian country side ended we were all greeted with the most stunning view of the Renaissance city of Florence. As we strolled through the cobblestone streets with bustling crowds surrounding us, we came across the Cathedral di Santa Maria del Fiore, an incredible symbol of Catholicism and Italian culture. We experienced a Mass with pilgrims from Bus group 16 in one of the chapels within the Basilica. Immediately after the mass we headed out to enjoy lunch and get acquainted with the city. Once lunch was over we began our guided tour. Over the course of the tour we saw a replica statue of David, an array of bronze and marble statues, the interior of a Medici Family monument, and finally the Basilica of Santa Croce, where both Michelangelo and Gallileo are buried. All buildings and monuments were intricately and beautifully decorated. The whole experience left us able to understand just how far Catholicism permeated the lives and culture of Italians and the grandeur and history behind it.
Once the tour was over we had one last walk around the city before we reluctantly got back on the bus. After the trip we finally found the right hotel, and filed off into our rooms, all of us excited by the prospect of more enlightening and fun experiences to come.
– Declan Thomas and William McManus