By Celine Klosterman
For The Catholic Messenger
IOWA CITY — Students and other members of the Regina Catholic Education Center community learned about Catholicism, history and art during a pilgrimage to Italy this spring.
Sixty-seven people, including 40 students, spent spring break traveling to and visiting Rome, Assisi, Florence, Verona and Venice. Offered every other year during Regina’s spring break, the trip lets students “see first-hand many sites that we as Catholics hold sacred,” said Glenn Plummer, principal of Regina’s junior/senior high school. “Although the main point of the trip is a spiritual pilgrimage, the students are exposed to important sites in world and art history.”
In Rome, the Regina group attended a papal audience and toured the Colosseum, Roman Forum, Pantheon, Vatican Museums, Catacombs of St. Callixtus, the Basilica of St. Peter and several other basilicas.
“It was a quick stop in Assisi, but we were able to visit the Basilica of Saint Francis,” Plummer said. “Florence included a tour of the city with stops at the Duomo, Palazzo Vecchio, and Accademia. It was a quick stop in Verona. Venice included a tour of the city by the Basilica of St. Mark and St. Mark’s Square, Doge’s Palace and Rialto Bridge.”
Also during the trip, Father Rudolph Juarez, pastor of St. Patrick Parish in Iowa City, celebrated Mass at the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome and at a parish church, San Benedetto in Mestre.
Senior Madison Murhammer said the pilgrimage was “filled with beautiful churches and experiences of faith.” Her favorite moment was seeing Pope Francis pass through a crowd after she’d waited for hours. “I was about 10 feet away from the pope! This was an amazing experience, being able to be so close to the current role model of my Catholic faith. He waved at everyone and even took time to stop and kiss some babies.
“Overall, this trip was a great experience that I proud to have shared with my classmates. The historically beautiful buildings and churches were unbelievable. I am proud to be part of such a loving community that has given me this opportunity to travel the world.”