Tuesday, March 18, 2014


If you take a walk along the Circus Maximus from St Anastasia church, at the far end and to your left is the complex of San Gregorio Magno; to the right you'll see the huge complex of FAO, the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization.  Behind FAO is Santa Balbina.  Full disclosure:  I've never been in this church.

But it was consecrated as a basilica by Pope Gregory the Great, and that is what little personal connection I have with it.  For the church named for him was built on his family's property, and at one point he had turned the estate into a monastic center where he and some companions lived (in one of the patterns of communal life that would coalesce into the Rule of St Benedict).  That was then; what about now?

Now this complex is the international motherhouse of the Missionaries of Charity, the order of Bl Mother Teresa of Calcutta.  Here the sisters run a soup kitchen/overnight shelter for men and women, and here I spent one night a week during one of my years in seminary, helping with serving, washing up, and one evening actually having to lead the Rosary in Italian (thank heavens for the Italian women there who didn't need my "help"!).  There was hard work involved because of the nature of the poverty the sisters had embraced.  In fact, their chapel and cells were in what was once a chicken coop, while the men and women had beds and dormitory style rooms on separate floors of the larger building.  Gregory had sent some of his companions as missionaries to the Angles and Saxons of Britain; now his family's property is the center for another group of missionaries.  When the sisters take their final vows, they must take them either here or in Calcutta. 
Tomorrow's post will have more proper "personal" reflection than today's!

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