Wednesday, 30 March 2011

The Fosse Ardeatine

I noticed that on Sunday Pope Benedict paid a visit to the Fosse Ardeatine outside Rome, a place that we used to walk to from the Beda seminary when I was there in the 70s. It's a fascinating place marking the spot where over 300 Italians were murdered by the then retreating Nazis late on in World War II. The Resistance set off a bomb in the city killing over 30 soldiers, and reprisals were ordered, 10 Italians for every German killed. These were rounded up in a fairly random way, taken outside the city to the area where many of the catacombs are, and shot in a cave. The entrance was then blown up, but some locals spotted this happening.
After the war all the bodies were dug out and reburied under a massive symbolic concrete tambstone and the cave turned into a place of prayer and reflection. It has a powerful presence about it, and is a place of pilgrimage for Italians, though not so many foreign visitors are aware of it. To get a sense of the place visit this WWII Landmarks site and click on the panorama images.
On a lighter note I did the latest of my "Wednesday Word" broadcasts this afternoon - on the subject of April Fools' Day, which is also the anniversary of my priestly ordination. It seemed to go down OK. I managed to get in St Paul, Shakespeare, John Cleese, Ricky Gervais and Miranda Hart!

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