Choir members sing in, tour Italy

Students pose in Rome last month

Ciao, Roma!  On March 15, 105 people, including 58 choir students from Notre Dame, started their journey to Rome. Excitement filled the air as they settled in for the long flight. Upon landing in Rome, they couldn’t believe they were actually witnessing the history they had seen only in books and movies.
Throughout Rome, Venice and Florence, students shared their gift of song. They had the pleasure of performing concerts at two beautiful churches, the church of St. Eustachio and the Basilica of Montecatini. The singers’ voices echoed into the cities, and many strangers came to share in the joyful praise.
In addition, students were given the honor of singing at two Masses, one in St. Peter’s Basilica and one in St. Mark’s Basilica. Both celebrations were inspiring, and it was evident the Holy Spirit was working within them.
Hearing the choir sing in St. Peter’s Basilica, which has amazing acoustics, “gave me goose bumps and brought tears to my eyes,” parent Esther Murphy said. She traveled to Italy with her son Ethan, a senior, and daughter Madison, a junior.
After one concert, an audience of about 180 people requested an encore and photos with students, she recalled.
Along with performing, students enjoyed some free time. Shopping, gondola rides and the daily gelato (Italian ice cream) were just a few favorites. The pilgrims toured the Roman Colosseum, Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, Assisi, Doge’s Palace, San Gimignano, the Sistine Chapel, the Vatican Museums, and of course St. Peter’s Square. Students seemed to truly appreciate the historical and religious value of what they saw, Murphy said. “It was awesome to see Rome through their eyes.”
The papal blessing given by Pope Benedict XVI was an awesome highlight of the trip.
For Murphy, another memorable moment was climbing the Holy Stairs, which tradition says Jesus walked up to meet Pontius Pilate. “It really made you think, ‘Jesus was here’! Just being there brought out your faith,” she said.
Many students returned March 24 saying that their faith had been renewed. All they had learned had come to life in the holy place. “It was a wonderful experience,” Murphy said. “I’d go back in a minute.”
Although the travelers are back in the states, Italy will remain in their hearts for a lifetime. They say “gratzi” to all who made their trip possible.

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