Rome Reflections Day 3

Posted on October 4, 2023 by Mary-Ellen Morgenstern

Our spot in Rome is extraordinary. While the rooms are simple but spacious and lovely, we have an exquisite view from our rooftop terrace. We all gathered together last night for the first time to share a simple meal of bread, wine, olives, cheese and grapes. Breaking bread with CNWE is such a special time.

Several of us visited the Catacombs of Priscilla: Jeanie, Nancy, Louise, Susan, Roberta and myself. We walked 700 metres along dark narrow pathways into the period of the 3rd century. For me there was a sense of going back in time to a period that was so rich for the Christian community. From my readings/ understanding of history Priscilla was prominent in the church. Many suggest that she was a priest. The image of her in the mosaic clearly resembles someone praying, presiding over a ritual. She is acknowledged to be a wealthy woman who donated land for the catacombs. Similarly to tombs through time there’s a great range of very simple tombs to very elaborate.

First Nativity

Dating from the early 3rd century is the first known image of the Nativity. The image showing a character from the Old Testament confirms the messianic idea of the prophesy, of the universal annunciation.

At St. Praxedes

We walked back to our residence via the beautiful Villa Borghese gardens, stopping for wonderful drinks. At 4 pm, wearing our purple stoles, we all gathered at St. Praxedes for our ritual with WOW/WOC. We had an opportunity in this beautiful church to see the famous mosaic of Theodora. I was lucky to be accompanied by Susan Roll at that moment. She explained that the square surrounding Theodora meant she was still alive at the time of the creation of the mosaic. Though the last part of her name is not clear, her title is! Episcopa – the “a” indicates a woman and a bishop.


Following we mingled and celebrated on the beautiful rooftop terrace of Mecenate Palace Hotel. I spoke with journalist /writer Michael Higgins and activists from Italy, France, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, India as well as United States. 

Lousie with spectacular view

Some of the words of the service resonate still. Barb (WOC) asked, “Who can bless? Who can be blessed?” Inspired by a prayer:

“May we in CNWE use our power of wisdom, anger, humour, heartbreak and hope to comfort (and confront) this world, to create a kindom: a radically loving inclusion.”

To bless and be blessed. May it be so!