On Thursday, June 9, a group of Latin students embarked on a week-long educational trip to Rome. Put on hiatus the last two years, the experience allowed the Regians to explore many of the city’s ancient ruins and gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of Latin classical tradition.
“I was beyond excited for this trip, and I am so glad I finally got to go,” said Austin LoPinto ’21, a freshman at New York University whose trip in 2020 was cancelled due to the pandemic. “To see up close so many things that we had discussed in class was a great gift.”
The four-day tour, conducted under the auspices of the Paideia Institute for Humanistic Study, brought students into direct contact with the Latin language’s legacy: the Roman empire and the splendors of Catholic Rome. Regians walked the Via Sacra in the Roman Forum, as triumphant Roman generals did for centuries. They also stood next to the spot where Marc Antony eulogized Julius Caesar, and they reread an oration of Cicero standing next to the Senate House where Cicero himself gave it over 2,000 years before. The Roman Colosseum, the Palatine Hill, the Capitoline Museum, and the Ara Pacis Augustae were other highlights from the Roman world students had the chance to explore.
Adding to the excursion, students received an exclusive tour of some of Rome’s grandest churches from Fr. Anthony SooHoo, SJ ’93. Father SooHoo brought the group to the Church of the Gesu and the private quarters of St. Ignatius Loyola, and afterwards celebrated Mass for them in the very room where St. Ignatius worked and later died. “To come so close to St. Ignatius was an unbelievable blessing,” recalled Language Department Chair Mr. David Bonagura ’99. “What better thing to do than celebrate the Mass, the heart of our faith, where the heart of the Jesuits once beat five hundred years ago.” The Regians also went to Mass at the majestic Basilica of San Clemente, beneath which they saw the remains of both a fourth-century church and a second-century pagan temple.
Rounding out the trip, the group visited a number of papal basilicas: St. John Lateran, St. Mary Major, and St. Peter’s, and had the opportunity to celebrate Mass just twenty yards from where Peter’s bones rest. Students ended their time in Rome with a climb to the top of St. Peter's to look out on the Eternal City and a tour of the Vatican Museums.
“Rome is the world’s greatest classroom. To see how excited the students were to learn about Christian iconography and papal history inside the most beautiful places of Christendom made the trip so worthwhile," reflected Bonagura on the value of the trip for the Regians. “We teachers try to bring the best features of the world to the classroom, but it is seeing these features where they were meant to be is the greatest way to inspire wonder and wisdom, the goals of a liberal arts education.”