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Some Final Thoughts on Rome Immersion

Johnny Bojrab ’16 – The final day of our trip to Rome gave us the opportunity to learn on our own about particular churches. The church that my fellow group members and I visited was located on top of first century Christian houses. This was an amazingly well-preserved location which was intricately designed with frescoes depicting early Roman/Christian art. Houses like these were the original sites of churches in Rome. Since Christians were highly persecuted in the first century these specific house churches would allow for worship without raising too many eyebrows in Ancient Rome. Interestingly this was in complete contrast with the other churches we had been visiting that week which were erected in visible areas and were specifically meant to grab the attention of others. Once Constantine had made Christianity the official religion there was no longer a need for these secretive house churches of the past since the religion itself had seemed to went through a complete paradigm shift in the sense of converting new members into the faith. It was incredible standing within these time capsules of Christianity, each particular church holding a different style that met a different purpose in the minds of many roman emperors. Christianity was a powerful movement that was able to meet the demands of heavily subjugated people. It was also able to be utilized as a powerful political tool to help legitimize authority. It was profound to be standing in a room that began the worlds most powerful and expansive religion in its infancy stage.

Brian Gregory ’18 –  As I sit here in Philadelphia airport, after having already experienced the longest flight of my life, I find myself wanting more of Rome. You don’t get to experience anything as beautiful, ancient, or thought-provoking in America. Most of that history was lost due to oral traditions being forgotten or erased. In Rome; however, every street is historical and every house built upon others of centuries past. Even with all of the majesty of Rome’s past, what keyed more into the experience was how clear it was that these early Christians were just everyday people. They lived their lives and faced persecutions as any other person could. They walked the streets now buried by the modern Rome, but their impact is seen in every basilica we visited. With that in mind, the impacts of the Roman Empire and the early Christians expands far past just Rome. My appetite has only been teased. Italy beckons me more than ever before. I want to travel underneath those houses and basilicas, I want to dine in front of the Pantheon (again), I will keep going back to Italy and Rome.

This experience has opened up a flood gate of possibilities to me. More immersion trips twinkle behind my eyes. The ambitious consideration of studying abroad sounds tantalizing. I had thought my Wabash career would stay at Wabash, but it seems that this week long experience has done just what Wabash claims to do; “To change lives.”

Zechariah Banks ’16 –  Greetings From Rome! This trip has been an amazing experience thus far. We have traveled almost everywhere in the city. We have seen things such as the Roman Colosseum, but also many lesser known things such as The Baths of Diocletian. Before coming on the immersion trip everyone was given a site to do a presentation about informing the class on the history and significance of the site. Today I gave my presentation on the Baths of Diocletian which were very imposing on the city of Rome. Commissioned by Co-Emeperor Maximian in the late 3rd century, the baths served as an everyday cleaning opportunity for Romans, but also an everyday release. The baths have now been converted into a church which was originally designed by Michelangelo during the 16th century.

Today we also visited the catacombs, where many early Christians were buried. Catacombs are simply underground graves in which multiple casket spaces are carved from the earth walls and then filled with bodies. These were very important because they provided enough room to bury the massive number of people that died, while at the same time limiting the space used. The catacombs we visited are nicknamed the “Queen” catacomb due to the importance of the people buried there in the Christian faith. There were multiple martyrs and a large number of Popes buried in these catacombs. The food here is great, the weather is warm, and the people are nice. My first time in Italy is going great!

Tyrone Evans ’16 –  On the final day of our adventure in Rome, my self and three other gentlemen on the trip were given the opportunity to do some research on a few churches within the city. The catch was that we would have to plan out the visits and navigate our way to each church ourselves. This worried me a little bit at first because  I was used to following Dr. Hartnett around the city since he knew it so well. But lucky our group was well prepared, we had all the locations, the times they opened, and jobs for each person at each church. Since I had been snapping photos the whole trip, I was the designated photographer. For the first church, San Crisogono, was tough to find at first, but thank God for the kind citizens of Rome and their helpful directions.

The Church of San Crisogono was beautiful, and underneath the church laid the remains of a 4th century church, including multiple mosaics, ancient architecture, and even human bones! The second church we visited was the Church of Santa Cecilia, which was another small church close to the Tiber River. This church also had a crypt, which held old silos for grain storage and well preserved chapel underneath the church. Finally, the last church we visited was the Santa Sabina, a huge church on the opposite side of the Tiber River than the first two churches. This church wasn’t as immaculate as San Crisogono and Santa Cecilia, there was only a few mosaics. But right outside the church, there was a beautiful courtyard that provided a great view of the entire city.

Later that night, we shared our last meal in Rome together. We were served course after course, eating foods such as octopus, a ham,egg, and cheese pasta, and multiple types of meat. Overall, I had an amazing time. With this being my first time out of the country, I thought I would never be able to partake in an experience such as this. But now that I have, I can’t wait to go back!