Narratives of the trip to Rome copied by Celine


Narrative of Mr A. Dufour de la Thuillerie, Caen (he represents the more casual tourist who looked out at nature).

Narrative of Father A.C. Hamel (he has a good eye for the curiosities: what food was served on the train, the crinoline in Loreto, the pigeons in Venice).


Travel notes sent by Mr de la Thuillerie, senior magistrate

to the Journal “L’Avenir du Calvados”


Left at 6:30 A.M. from Paris, 197 pilgrims came together this evening in Lucerne where they will spend the night. The next day the train will set off in its march in weather that is sufficiently mediocre.

Today, Thursday, irreproachable weather.

I do not recall well if I have spoken to you of our stop in Loreto, Saturday evening, of the surprising night passed in the ordinary beds and rooms, indeed even in the entrance hall of the inns, as in the case of your servant.

Loreto, picturesquely sitting atop a hill with scattered bramble bushes again well stripped of olive trees that slice through with its ash-like greenness above the rest of the vegetation reddened by autumn, dominates the plain of Castelfidardo, so that the large valley spreads out up until the sea between the hills of Loreto and another small hill that falls and perishes in the Adriatic.

This picturesque village with its ladies in bizarre and brilliant costumes; also picturesque was our crossing of the Apennines that we executed in our Sunday journey, always via the special train that we disembark this evening in Rome.

After this moment, we are transformed into nomads and divided into 4 or 5 groups of forty persons, sometimes by foot, more often in coaches, one visits with tenacity.

Today, (Thursday 18 Nov.) the sun has only partly shown itself and from the lodge of the Vatican that we visited, one can at last see, over its beautiful appearance, the countryside of Rome and its gracious mountains of the Sabine and the Latium.

Today, Mass and vespers at St. Peters for the Feast of the Dedication. Marvelous chants with superb voices, altogether in keeping with its high reputation.

Alas, Rome is on track to being modernized to make it into a great capital. As to the costumes so proudly worn in former times by the Contadini and the Trantiverni, one does not see anymore except in painting studios.

The majority of the pilgrims leave Monday morning for an excursion of two days to Naples.


Rome 20 November

We have had this morning the joy of attending an audience of the Holy Father. After having attended his Mass, at the same time as the Pilgrims from Nantes, we were able, those from the Dioceses of Bayeux and Constances, to pass one after another before the Sovereign Pontiff, who held out his hand to be kissed.

Each was named and presented by His Excellency the Bishop of Countances for [the region of] la Manche, or by Reverend Abbot Reverony for [that of] of Calvados. The Holy Father, surrounded by Rev. Germain, Rev. Lecoq, of M.M., Legoux, vicar of Coutances, and Reverony, vicar general of Bayeux, found for each welcoming words in giving out his blessing.

Benoit has presented the volume, to be given to the Pope, printed by the typography workers of the Christian Association of Caen and he obtained for our works a blessing and specific encouragement. All morning, we had torrents of rain fall.


Genoa. Sunday evening 27 Nov. Here we are in our last stage [of the trip] in Italy. We left Rome last Thursday morning to arrive in time to sleep in Florence, after a stop of two or three hours in Assisi (3 kilometers from the station) where we have visited the church, all filled with souvenirs of St. Francis. That ribbed church is triple: crypt, inferior church and superior church. In the crypt, relics of the saint that we were able to venerate.

After which, we were able to go to pray at the tomb of St. Clare in the church that is dedicated to her. From the terrace of the convent, of which the church of St. Francis is but an annex, there is, it so appears, a marvelous view; I say “it so appears” because at the good pleasure of the government the convent is now secularized, that is to say confiscated and closed to the public.

Happily, from the square in front of the church of St. Clare, one can more or less take our  revenge and the point of view is admirable. Very picturesque, this small town of Assisi, attractively camped on a corner of a hill all filled with olive trees. Like this, by the way, are grouped all the little villages of this region of the Apennines crowning each hillock with vegetation or nestled on a mountain slope.

Upon descending from Assisi and, before getting on the train, we visited Santa Maria degli Angeli [Saint Mary of the Angels]. Neighboring the station, where each one was able to go pray in the little house of the Porziuncola [“small portion of land”], today transformed into a chapel and occupying the center of the church.

The weather is beautiful and clear thus far, but alas! What of tomorrow! Friday in Florence! Torrential rain from morning to night. So, the impression left by this charming city has been far from the truth yesterday morning, as a result of the brusque and frequent changes of temperature in the southern regions, the sky has not cleared up, and it was with regret that each [of the pilgrims] left at around 4:00 Florence, the city of the arts, greeting for the last time the attendants on the train. Santa Maria degli Fiori [Saint Mary of the Flowers], its copula with its pure lines, its admirable bell tower and the high tower of the old chateau.

This evening, we are in Pisa [in time] for dinner. This morning, visited the old marble cathedral, the baptistery, the leaning tower that holds on after more than six centuries, and quickly on our way to Genoa. Very beautiful route from Pisa to Genoa on a cliff by the sea; it would even be more beautiful if we traveled less underground. Barely, between two tunnels, have we the time to admire a new vista over the sea bathing the feet of the rocky promontories or to catch, of the opposite side, a glance over one small city closed in between two slopes covered with olive groves, orange groves and hedges of aloe shrubs.

Have I told you about last Sunday morning and our arrival to Genoa that same evening?

A stroll in the new quarters, amidst the gracious dwellings constructed after several years on the heights that dominate the old city, amidst the beautiful gardens forming terraces from where the view is admirable. After lunch, we embarked for Nice where we should arrive for dinner at 6:00 PM.

The sky, at first a bit foggy, became quickly one of admirable purity, we made ourselves see Genoa and Nice between the innumerable tunnels of the track, [there are] ravishing sights and a sunset altogether Mediterranean; then, from Nice to Marseilles, the perspectives the most delightful again the bay of Nice, of the Antibes, of Cannes, of St Raphael.

Alas! The sky darkens again, we have had of the dazzling panorama of Our Lady of the Guard one beautiful appearance, but incomplete, in the absence of a sky without clouds, necessary companions more than everywhere, elsewhere.

Our prayers to the Good Mother [ the Blessed Virgin Mary], for France who has so great a need of her protection; no less fervent than during the benediction that we have been given, preceded by some appropriate words pronounced with warmth by the Bishop of Coutances.

Leaving Marseilles, bad weather and increasing cold after this morning until our arrival in Lyon with battering rain. We are, even so, determined to arrive at Fourvieres before lunch followed immediately by the last departure for Paris. The arrival at Paris is fixed for 25 minutes after midnight.




Extracts from “The indicateur de Bayeux”

By Mgr. L'Abbe A.C. Hamel, sub-secretary of the Bishop

(see him here)

A “sub-secretary' is the assistant to the general secretary of the Bishop.

Abbe Hamel did not always follow the same itinerary as the Martins—or stay in the same hotels.


November 8

Yesterday to Paris, all 200 pilgrims, we have been punctual. At 6:00, we found each other at the train station de L'Est. The station is large, the daylight had not yet broken. No matter how, we searched. Finally, they indicated to us the gate: “from Paris to Mulhouse.” We were reassembled and we each had our round trip ticket. The call: “all aboard the cars” rang out. We boarded. We were eight per car, the same in second class. (We only had but 7 in our car: M. l'abbe Moulin, vicar of St. Desir of Lisieux – Mgr. Gosset – M. and Mme Besnard -- M. Louis Martin – Mlles Therese and Celine Martin; all from Lisieux).

The first important stop should take place in Bale. It was time to think of the mid-day meal. The Lubin Agency provided it there. WE lunched in the car. Each received a paper sack that was tied with a string. Here is the inventory of the sack's contents: half bottle of wine, a chicken leg, a pear, bread, a paper in the form of a small cone containing salt.

We stopped at Vesoul, just in time to walk through the major street and to visit the principal churches.

We are near the Swiss border seen from the last French train station.

At 8, we have arrived in Bale.

At 9:30, we got on board the cars. The National train left us and we found ourselves prepared to receive the Swiss trains. Very comfortable these Swiss trains, cars with three compartments of 24 people each, with a path permitting [us] to circulate from one compartment to another.

Lucerne – 1:00 AM. Time to run to the hotel. All the pilgrims from Bayeux stayed at the hotel du Lac, neighboring the station, the windows face the lake, electricity on every floor, magnificent rooms, same for the third [class].


Second Day

At 6:00, it was necessary to rise quickly, have breakfast, go if one wishes to visit the famous lion of Lucerne and run to the station en route for Milan.

Impossible to describe Switzerland...from 7 in the morning up until 5:00 PM, we have enjoyed a marvelous spectacle of the greatness of nature.

What can one say of Lugano, bathed by its lake...

We are in Italy, that is in Chiasso. There the inevitable tedium of customs, one understands the cry: “Fortenza.” It is necessary to get out [of the train], get down our luggage, open them....and a dozen men suddenly arise for the duration of 30 minutes.

We are in Milan – Tomorrow we visit Milan and we are going to sleep in Venice.

Milan. The station is monumental, brightened by electric lights, coaches awaited us and we were conducted to our respective hotels. After our evening meal, we visited the gallery of Victor-Emmanuel, [also] electrically lit. It is a gallery with glass [walls], in the form of a cross and a copula in the middle. It is 50 meters in height under the copula, 32 meters for all other parts, length of 14 meters. The appearance of this gallery is enchanting; decorated with statues of great men who should be surprised to be found one after the other. Savonarola, Cavour, Visconti, Raphael and Dante, with his sombre appearance, etc.

From every corner can be found stores, cafes, libraries, etc. People watch us as we pass: francesi, the French, even turning around to better appraise us!


Third Day

On the next day: visit to the cathedral. Its exterior is admirable. It is the largest religious building constructed with marble.

The number of statues is more than 6,000. All are executed with remarkable refinement. Even the smallest bas-relief placed at the summit of the Dome which can hardly be viewed, placed as they are in the exterior galleries; they are truly masterpieces.

The interior, the vaults are very high, once believes that one is seeing lace made from stone, but in reality, these are paintings that simulate rose windows and the vault is united with its sculpture.

We are here on the octave of St. Charles, patron of Milan. The body of the Saint is exposed in the crypt. The face is darkened by the years and markedly deformed by death. The body is covered with magnificent pontifical ornaments.

All stopped before the statue of St. Bartholomew flayed. It is admirable in its exactitude. The skin and the veins appear denuded, the skin torn and thrown out like a coat, and the face fallen back to the mid-torso.

We ascended up to the Dome. We arrive at the summit after climbing 484 steps. The view is beyond all expression. Needle-like rays crown the statues, the archways decorated with all the flowers of creation, appearing as a great garden. The exterior galleries covered with marble, may contain 30,000 persons. In the distance, we discovered the mountains, the lake and the village of Lugano. It is admirable!

Campo Santo – that is the name given to the cemetery.

At the entrance, one finds an immense monument in the form of a cross; at the center, a copula, above the copula, the statues or the frames carrying the name of illustrious men. Under the copula, the vaults destined to receive the bodies of the great men of Milan.

To the left, in a wing, we saw the tombs with statues that are true masterpieces. Here, there is a mother holding her child and half-way entering the door of a vault where is found the body of her husband. Over there, the saga of another mother who has lost her husband, who lives only for her children, and sees her sons taken up by his love. She succumbs to her pain and flies away towards heaven. Then, she sees coming to receive her those for whom she cried so much and so dearly loved. This drama in three tableaus brings tears to the eyes.

To the right is found the quarter reserved for the Jews. We descended towards the cemetery. Yes, it is truly the poetry of death! What admirable marble statues! One sees a young widow deposit, on the tomb of her husband of only several days, her festive dresses. She now wears only the severe clothing of widows, her mantilla appears to be made truly of lace, and yet it is marble!

Then, this young girls rests alone; a wall, death, separates her from her father and mother, and the survivor piously throws flowers, her prayers, towards those who are no longer—And this other whose tense fingers press upon her chest; the illusion is complete. One would think it is fabric, [yet] is is a work of marble.

One would say that under the chisels of these artists, the marble waits, becomes human, so much that it lends itself to express the anguish that it explores. How could one pass, without stopping for an instant, before the column above where lurks a child, soon to be removed from the earth and whose cute hand sends a gracious kiss to those who cry.

Saint Ambrose – the Church is interesting by virtue of its antiquity. One sees there a crown of porphyry sustaining the bronze serpent. This should be, according to the legend, the serpent that Moses raised up in the desert. It is a small inoffensive serpent holding a rigid form.

It is time time to leave. At the station, the numerous crowd has gathered to see the French pilgrims. One was stared at.

Here is a curious extract from a journal from Venice, announcing our arrival from Milan to Venice. All the journals are not perfectly well informed as we shall see.

“Yesterday afternoon,” said the Venetian Gazette, “at 10:00 AM, as we have announced, 200 French pilgrims have arrived in Venice who are all more or less from the department of la Manche. Three among them are high dignitaries of the Church, to say: two bishops, a vicar general, lay persons and some signores. All of them are rich people who travel on a special train composed entirely of first class wagons.” We have all therefore become millionaires!

Venice. We arrived in the famous city of Venice via a long viaduct of many kilometers that jets out over the Adriatic. Forty gondolas await us. The gondola is a boat that is blade-shaped at the front and the back, measuring about a dozen meters long. The two extremities are decked. The gondolier is at the back. He directs with an oar his rapid embarkation. Nothing is as curious as the cry of the gondoliers mutually alerting one another of their approach, so as to prevent the barks from colliding with one another in the narrow labyrinths that they direct themselves in all manner. In the middle of the gondola are two seats that can be covered with a roof in the afternoon and when rain falls. The gondola is entirely black The gondola is entirely black, its seats are black, and the roof is entirely veiled with black covering. One would say it is a long coffin voyaging on the sea waters.

This somber color dates from the Republic. Before then, the gondoliers decorated their gondolas, so that the richest would attract clients while the poor died of hunger. The Republic decreed that all gondolas should be the same. After that, all the gondolas would take this lugubrious color that has been faithfully conserved. That is the explanation that has been given to us by our gondolier, The black gondola, does that not have a poetic ring?   It marvelously goes out in the blue sea water of the Adriatic.

Venice is built on a cluster of small islands. In this strange city, the buses are the vapor boats [known in Italian as vaporetto], the carriages of gondolas. Many of the Venetians have only seen the bronze horse of St. Mark. Actually, there are three horses in Venice. They are respectfully conserved in a plant garden as the main attraction, as in Paris where one can conserve the bears, the lions or the tigers. But these fortunate, lazy creatures are not mounted, nor harnessed. One does not know in Venice what vehicles there could be.

Upon our arrival, it was night. We strolled through the canals, the large ones as well as the narrow ones that led us to the Hotel de la Lune [Moon]. In the hotel, all had the lunar blazons, the glasses, the dining plates, even the slabs of butter that were served at dinner.


Fourth Day

Thursday we visited Venice. We went down via the small back alleys opening at the back of the houses. We saw the walk with it assemblies of vegetables, fruits, meat, and fish...etc.

St. Mark – the interior is of a richness that approaches profusion. Throughout with marble, statues and paintings of the Great Masters...Titian, Canova, etc.

The Palace of the Doges is truly a grandiose monument, so rich, that one should give up on trying to describe it. One must see the Hall of Votes, of Ambassadors, of the Counsel of the Ten, the Senate with the gold ceiling, the walls covered with immense canvases representing the glories of Venice, the Queen of the Adriatic. Each painting is a marvel. You would need long pages to describe it.

But what horrors are to be found near to these magnificences! Look at the Hall of Judgment, and, finally, that other Hall where three masked judges decide the fate of the accused. Being condemned by these mysterious judges, they pass through the Bridge of Signs: for them, it is an assured death. They descend into the subterranean dungeon found at sea level where air is not able to penetrate. One of the dungeons is situated in a place where the water is able to traverse the walls. The water always rises and rises. Death comes slowly or rapidly depending on the energy or the force of the condemned. If they are able to maintain standing, it is a slow death; if not, the unfortunate, vanquished by weakness or by the horror of such an atrocious life, are drowned by the sea, sweeter for them than the rigor of the judges.

On the coast running along the canal, to the bottom section of the Bridge of Sighs, one finds a stone, the threshold of death. The victim would be stretched on the ground, the stone serves on a chopping block, the ax does its work; then, the blood flowed down a cracked pavement towards three openings on the canal. The body is thrown through a skylight into the sea.

To what inexpressible anguish these somber walls have been mute witness! How many tears they have seen flow. What sighs—the last—they have heard! Only they can say. One feels a breaking of the heart, an unspeakable emotion upon looking at these horrible dungeons.

Around the Plaza of St. Mark, one can find the galleries of the royal palace surrounded by columns. The eye is dazzled by the vista of stores that contain the magnificent objects that make up the principal commerce of Venice: glass objects, charming statuettes in white marble and of an infinite delicacy and peerless perfection.

One must not forget the pigeons of St. Mark. Between the innumerable colonnades of the Plaza of St. Mark, above the fierce lion of Venice and, most of all, above the statues of the Saints and great men, one catches sight of the pigeons. They have the right to liberty and also insolence, passerbys glimpse them often. The pigeon is sacred to Venice. It is even the case that a rich eccentric has handed down to them rental income for their nourishment. All the monuments of Venice serve as their domicile. At the stroke of 2:00, these faithful fliers take advantage of all sides to receive grain. For them 2:00 is not enough time for food. At St. Mark Plaza, one sees merchants who offer you, for about ten centimes, grain to buy for them. It would be a sacrilege to kill one of these birds; so they multiply indefinitely.

We cast a quick look over the palace. This evening, the gondoliers will come to give a serenade in front of the windows of the hotels where the French pilgrims are staying.

[Celine notes: We have climbed to the very top of the Bell tower of S. Marco. Napoleon made this ascension by horse? The interior climb is not, in effect, composed of stairs, but of rising platforms.]


Fifth Day

On the next day, Friday, return to the station via the vaporettos. Goodbye Venice, goodbye Queen of the Adriatic, one upon a free city. Your current fate is represented by the statue of Victor-Emmanuel. The King is on a horse, two immense bas-reliefs in bronze show a free Venice with her diadem as Queen of the seas; on the other side, Venice enchained with her sword broken. Is this a flattery at the place of Victor-Emmanuel? Or rather that Venetia has wanted to consider its passed glories. To live of memories, and its defeats in order to cry? Venice, goodbye, your palaces that are reflected in [our] eyes, goodbye to the gondoliers, your memory shall remain in our hearts, strange without doubt, but indelible.

Padua...possessing still the relics of St; Luke and of St. Matthew, apostles, and one of the paintings of the paintings of the Madonna”, issued by the brush of St. Luke.

Bologna immense crowds. All of Bologna is at the station to see the French pilgrims. This evening, we visited the cry. All the houses are surrounded by porticos. Each street presents the aspect of a forest of columns.


Sixth Day

We have come from venerating the relics of St. Catherine of Bologna. The saint is sitting in an arm chair. Her face, her hands are darkened by time. This saint was a musician; there is conserved her violin. She was a painter, there is displayed her paintings. She had written; one sees her books on display.

Bologna also possesses the tomb of St. Dominic, the illustrious founder of the preaching Friars.

We have arrived this evening in Loreto. The city is built on the summit of a high hill, where we venerated the august dwelling, witness setting of the Incarnation.

The Venice journals have informed us that an earthquake was felt during one of our nights in Milan. We were ignorant of it.

Loreto – We are in Loreto. The city is built at the summit of a high hill. We found a station of all types of vehicles. The best is not worth our carts. So we are shaken, thrown from right to left, at the mercy of rocks of which the route is congested. It can be believed that resources are unknown in this country.

We are happy. We had to be lodged a bit everywhere. The beds are generally of a monumental size: truly family-sized, they could fit 3 or 4 persons. We have taken possession of our rooms and we descended to the Basilica to venerate the “Santa Casa”.


Seventh Day

Monday, 13 November

Sunday, the Holy Mass is celebrated in the Santa Casa by the Bishop of Coutances.

The entire city of Loreto, the inhabitants of neighboring villages have made a rendez-vous here to assist the same Masses as the French pilgrims.

Impossible to figure out the strangeness of their attendance at the Mass. Each of the faithful chooses his altar and this altar belongs more to the fithfull more than to the priest who celebrates. The steps are full and the priest hardly moves. Adding to all this is a burning devotion and very demonstrative. The Italians pray loudly, they beat their chests, kiss the chasuble. All these demonstrations surprised us, but they are done with a good heart.

And the costumes, how strange they are! There, all men are draped over with a cape. The women cover their heads with a long, red headscarf. Their petticoats are red and, at the waist, they carry a sweater made of white wool. Something incredible, the crinoline banished from Paris, after having devastated the [French] province, has been exiled to Loreto. It has taken its time to make so long a voyage, but it has arrived, and we have seen with stupefaction many crinolines swaggering fiercely in Loreto.

It is time to depart again and leave this good population that has received us with so much simplicity and kindness. En route for Rome!

“Roma”. It is Rome. It is night , we are conducted to the Hotel of Milan, of la Minerva or du Sud [the last being the hotel where the three members of the Martin family stayed]. The pilgrims from Bayeux went, in greater part, to the Hotel of Milan, situated in front of the Chamber of Deputies.


Eighth Day

Monday 14 November

Here is our daily schedule: breakfast at 9:00, at 10:00; we [then] visit the city up until 9:00 in the evening.

In general, the churches of Rome are, exteriorly of a less than monumental aspect and even somewhat poor. The interior is of a richness of which we have no idea. Everywhere precious marble, paintings by the great masters, we are unable to forget that we are in the country of art.

Saint Agnes Outside- the-Walls. The repose of the body of the saint whose name is so sweet and that of her Emerentienne [said to be the foster sister of St. Agnes, that is both were breast-fed by the same nurse or mother].

St. Martial. Inside the crypt, one sees the prison of St. Paul, the column and the chains to which he was attached . It is here where the great Apostle wrote: Verbum Dei non est alligatum, the word of God is not chained. The Apostle proved the truth of these words by converting St. Martial, his jailor, along with his family. One saw the wells where the Saint took the water necessary for Baptism.

La Trinita dei Monti, a French church, built by the French. One of the pilasters displays the coat of arms of the three fleur de lys of our kings, afterward, we found the Villa Medici or the French Academy of Painting in Rome.

The Church of the Capuchin, Piazza Barberini. The church possesses many magnificent canvases. We descended into the cemetery. It is frightening and lugubrious. Four subterranean halls make up a cemetery that is unique in the world. There, the bones of two thousand religious are arranged. One sees the craniums symmetrically arranged one above the other. In the vaults, the arabesques, the light fixtures : they too are bones. Some religious are reclined wearing their monastic habits (or standing), the crucifix on the chest, awaiting the Resurrection.

St. Andrea delle-Fratte, Conversion of Ratisbonne.


Tuesday--15 November

We have visited the Forum of Trajan, Augustus, and Nerva.

The Colosseum grandiose Monument.

These ruins have the stamp of strength, despite the ravages that the ages, the barbarians and rich Roman families have exercised over this Colosseum. They have built with [its] stone fortresses and palaces and even so one is overwhelmed by the sight of its immense stone blocks that overhang at prodigious heights.

Memories of the past rise vividly. There are centuries within this arena, of gladiators tearing up one another, of combats against ferocious beasts for the greater pleasure of the people-king They fall while saluting the imperial monster who gives them death, the others are struck down; these are our forebears in faith. Their eyes do not look for the Emperor, they [instead] look to heaven and see descending to [to rest upon] their heads the crown that is procured through martyrdom!

It seems that [because of] our occasion [visit] many persons have been stopped. We had not heard of this and yet our sufficiently numerous group has circulated in all directions within the city.  A Roman newspaper found us to cut a “good figure” and looked on us as “well-off” people.

Rome, Friday 18 November

St. John Lateran is the episcopal papal church. It is here where the Sovereign Pontiff comes to take possession of his Seat. This Basilica is the first church of Rome and of the world. Moreover, the clergy of the Lateran has preeminence over the clergy of other churches; it is necessary to recall that, after Henry IV, the Sovereigns of France are, by right, canons of the Lateran. This tradition was been conserved until the Revolution. The Restoration restored this ancient usage. The Emperor Napoleon [and] MacMahon were reintegrated in this privilege. And [what about] M. Grevy? We have been curious to see the church stall [reserved] for our venerable President.

The relics of this church are of great richness. To wit, the table upon which Our Lord celebrated the Last Supper—the cup in which poison was offered to St. John—the blood of St Charles Borromeo; a part of the chain of St. John? Brought from Ephesus to Rome: a part of the purple vestment in which O.L. was dressed for mockery.

The same basilica alleges to possess: the plaque on which the soldiers drew lots for the vestments of the Savior—the (?) of the Samaritan; the melted (?) column of the Temple of Jerusalem, etc.

Also, in the corner, the baptistry built by Constantine and the chapel of St. John the Baptist. Women may not enter that chapel. So you can imagine how intrigued were our lady visitors! What would they have thought of seeing themselves excluded and condemned to stay at the door while seeing [the men] freely enter! We have been able to satisfy their legitimate curiosity and apprise them that the Italians act like this as a courtesy towards St. John. He was beheaded on account of a woman. One does not wish to offend the Saintly Precursor through the presence of those whom are of the same sex than Herodiade.

After the Basilica, one [goes to] see the “Scala Santa”, [where] we entered the oratory called “Sancta Sanctorum”. There, we have venerated the image of O.L , commenced by St. Luke and finished by the Angels.

St. Paul Outside-the-Walls, splendid church rebuilt by Leo XII and Pius IV. This church is one of the richest in the world. It has 5 naves separated by columns of pink granite. Around the naves, the magnificent medallions in mosaics representing the Popes...The church is paved in marble. Above the Main Altar are conserved half the bodies of St. Peter and of St. Paul. Above is raised a canopy sustained by four columns of polphyry.

On the Apennine Way, we quickly saw the church “Domine, quo vadis.”

St Peter's – it would tale a volume to describe this monument. The Plaza of St. Peter is vast and magnificent. The church appears in the distance with its colonnades, one would say a church of average grandeur.   As one continues to approach it, the illusion continues. Climbing the steps that lead one to the facade, one has again but a suspicion, not the reality. Stepping on one of the columns, at what height have you reached?  The same at the summit of the base. Now seeing the whole, you are overwhelmed.

In order to construct this colossus, 3 centuries were needed. It was required, to direct the work, the geniuses of Bramante, Raphael, Peruzzi, Michelangelo, Maderno.

Let us enter into the interior. All is well combined so that one has the illusion of a church of moderate grandeur. One glimpses two holy water founts sustained by child-angels; they measure about 2 meters. The length of the building is of 187 meters, the height of the great nave is 45 meters, length 25 meters, the copula has 117 meters of height up to the vault of the lantern, and the summit of the Cross is 133.69 meters. At each angle of the copula are the Evangelists in mosaic, each is seven meters. The pen of St. Luke measures six feet. At the very end of the apse, one sees the Seat of St. Peter. This chair weighs 219.151 pounds.

Visit to the Vatican Museum. Sculptures of indescribable beauty. Paintings: it is sufficient to mention the....of Raphael, the pictures of the same, the Transfiguration, the last Communion of St. Jerome of the Dominicans.

Rome—Sunday 20 November

This morning, we have had the pleasure of being received by the Holy Father.

The Sovereign Pontiff has kindly wished to allow the pilgrims of Bayeux, of Coutances and of Nantes to assist the Mass. At 7:30, we climbed the steps of the Vatican. At each landing there was to be found a Swiss [Guard] wearing the picturesque costume designed by Michelangelo.

The chapel where the Sovereign Pontiff was to celebrate the Mass is sufficiently vast, the chapel is covered with wall hangings of red silk and the superior part of magnificent tapestries.

Near the altar took their places Their Excellencies, the bishops of Vannes, of Nantes, of Coutances, of Seez. A row is reserved for the vicars general.

At 8, the doors from the pontifical apartments open. One sees appear four Swiss or guards, [and] the prelates. At last, a tremor felt by all assembled and an involuntary cry escapes from every throat: The Pope, the Pope!

The Pope is tall but bent by age. His figure is pale, over the white cassock is thrown a large red cape.

All of us kneeled and the Holy Father sprinkled holy water on the numerous attendees. Then, he got on his knees and recited, from the Missals, the prayers for the preparation of the Mass. He is dressed in his pontifical vestments and commenced the Holy Sacrifice.

The voice of the Pontiff breaks, but he strongly articulates each syllable ad we do not lose one word of the liturgical prayers. The assistance is very considerable, as the Sovereign Pontiff could not possibly give Holy Communion [to every pilgrim]. The pilgrims, having been warned to keep the previous evening vigil, were able to receive Communion during morning Masses. The Sovereign Pontiff assisted on his knees, even without leaning on the cushion placed in front of him, the Mass of thanksgiving [was] celebrated by a house prelate. After this second Mass, the Holy Father retired.

Our Audience is to begin. The pilgrims from Coutances are called. His Excellency the bishop of Coutances presents his diocesans to the Holy Father. Our turn arrives. M. Abbot Reverony, delegated by the bishop of Bayeux, approaches first.

The Holy Father is seated on a throne. Around him are the French bishops whose names I have already given. After this was accomplished, [and] as many as the narrowness of the apartment allows, the Pontiff received us, [and] M. abbot Reverony said some words to the Holy Father. He expressed the regrets of our bishop who was not able to be found on this day next to His Holiness to present the pilgrims of Bayeux. M. the Vicar General expressed again to the Holy Father the sentiments of attachment, respect, of veneration, from the bishop, of the Chapter of the Cathedral-Church, of the priests, the religious Communities, of the faithful of our diocese, [and] for all of them he asked for a special blessing.

The Holy Father made inquiries about our bishop with the greatest possible kindness and had for us many affectionate words.

Rev. Abbot Reverony offered then to the Holy Father our jubilee gift from the diocese of Bayeux. He presented it to him as a witness of the love of the faithful of the diocese of Bayeux for the Sovereign Pontiff, all have contributed for this gift that represents more than 6,000 work days. The Sovereign Pontiff held the rochet himself: “Oh! I know about this! They have referred to it, The journals have spoken much about it!” He took it in his hands like a connoisseur, lauding the delicacy of the execution, admiring the coats of arms. Rev. Reverony presented M. Lefebure of Paris, artist and above all an excellent Christian. The Sovereign Pontiff responded: “Are you from Paris, and [what about] the work?”

“Most Holy Father, the work was executed in Bayeux,” [replied M. Lefebure]. During this dialogue, the Holy Father examined all the details of the rochet. He [then] turned it over to one of the assistants and said: “You will find for it a place of honor behind glass.”


Rochet of Leon XIII

We read in the Roman newspaper “The Voice of Truth”. A flattering article that we are happy to reproduce:

Rome, 23 November 1887

Yesterday, M. Lefebure met with the Committe for Vatican Expositions to choose a place where to display the superb masterpiece produced by a [hand-made lace] factory in Bayeux--a magnificent rochet that was presented on Sunday during the audience for French pilgrims. It is a work demanding great exactitude, for which eight thousand days of work were required for its execution. It is in the style of Louis XIV. It bears in the middle the coat of arms of the Holy Father and above it those of the bishop of Bayeux; [and] to the right and the left, those of the principal cities of the diocese that contributed for this offering. His Holiness, in receiving this precious gift, deigned to express his high satisfaction to M. Lefebure, who was presented [to the Pope] by Rev. Reverony, the vicar general, and [the Pope} said that the rochet would be one of the most beautiful objects in the Exposition; that it is worthy of being placed [second only] after the tiara from the Diocese of Paris.

All the pilgrims then filed before the Sovereign Pintiff who had for each an amiable word and a blessing. We were happy to have the opportunity to venerate the successor of Peter, to be able to behold this old man that nothing can break and nevertheless attracts all nations and who sees all men bow before him with respect under his blessing hand. He is a deposed King. He has no troops, but he has about him a sacred character. He is the protector and servant of what is holy, those word of Jesus:  You are Peter and upon this rock I shall build my Church.

In this old man, we have recognized another Peter, another Christ, and our hearts were bonded together with happiness upon having received his paternal benediction.

Audience accorded by Leo XIII to the Pilgrims of Bayeux:

We should [thanks to] a gracious communication, be able to reproduce some lines addressed by M. Abbot Reverony to his Excellency, Mgr., the Bishop of Bayeux:

Rome, 20 November 1887

“We have finished the audience. We have assisted the Mass of the Holy Father...Nothing is as touching as the manner in which Leo XIII celebrated [it]. His is a piety full of grandeur that stirs the soul to its very depth. After the Mass, each diocese filed past, pilgrim by pilgrim, before His Holiness. Each one kneeled at the feet of the Pope in order to receive his blessing that he gave with a tone and grace that was totally paternal. M. Lefebure and M. Abbot Hamel carried the rochet in its case...The Holy Father asked to be given his eyeglasses and he himself unfolded the rochet; he admired it for a long time and himself ordered that it be designated a place of honor in the exposition.”


Rome—Naples--21 to 22 November

We left Rome at 6:00 in the morning, and we arrived in Pompeii at 1:00.

Pompeii. During the trajectory that separates the station from Pompeii and its ruins, the guide recounted for us the history of the cities engulfed by the eruptions of Vesuvius.

It suffices to recall that Pompeii, a city of 25 to 26,000 souls, was destroyed by an earthquake (63 years after Jesus Christ). Rebuilt in little time, it was buried by an eruption of Vesuvius. The city remained buried under piles of sand up until 1512. While digging an acqueduct, the Forum and the Temple were discovered; much later (1748) new discoveries. Under French control, excavations were organized and after this they have not been interrupted. Presently, the much greater part of the city is open to the sky.

We entered through the “Marine” Door because otherwise the sea washes the walls of Pompeii. Now, the [entry] is elongated along many kilometers. We found the Museum. There [to be seen] are the only inhabitants of this funereal city. One sees many molded cadavers. There is conserved the last contractions of pain with which death had seized and fixed upon them for all time. We saw the skeletons of horses and other animals that were not able to flee the blazing torrent: [we also saw the remains] of fruits, of pears, eggs, and amphoras admirably conserved.

We followed the first street that presented itself. The streets are narrow and still conserve the ruts (grooves) that they had when the rich Diomedes rode through them for the last time. [Note: the Villa of Diomedes, excavated between 1771-74, was named after the tomb of Marcus Arrius Diomedes which happens to face the entrance to this luxurious Villa. So, apparently, the assumption was that the Villa had belonged to this Diomedes.] These streets are bordered by elevated sidewalks. When rain falls, as it did at the moment of our visit to Pompeii, the streets become like streams. In that case, too bad for the maldroit voyager who does not pay attention. He will stick his feet in puddles of water up to his knees. To avoid this inconvenience, one walks on the sidewalks, and from one distance to another, a large rock sticks out in the middle of the street permitting crossing of the street from one corner to another.

The houses, the Temples are conserved. The houses are small, one perceives a people who lived outdoors. The baths appear with their paintings [frescoes], fresh despite the 18 centuries that have passed since the catastrophe. We saw the stores of the merchants of oil, wine, with the counters and immense the marble. We admired the basins [made] of beautiful white marble, the admirable mosaics. Here are the temples where there are also some columns and statues, the theater, the ampitheater with its bleachers; in the middle is an immense ornamental basin where naval combats were held. Here is the Stock Exchange [was there such a thing back then?] where the Wilsons of those days played with the values of time.

We strolled successively reconstructed streets, bearing names. The houses have their numbers, If the inhabitants could revive, they would easily find their homes. But no, we have seen many houses, and between the [inhabitants] and the [house] entrances, they are [only to be found] in their shrouds of stone.

We have crossed the Door of Herculanum. The walls of the city are well conserved. It is there, if I am not confused, that the skeleton of a Roman functionary was found. The inhabitants, for the most part, had been able to flee. He, victim of duty, stayed at his post and there found death.

The pathway of tombs is bordered by funereal monuments. One is afraid to read the names of those who sleep under the marble that the colcano was not able to destroy. But fortunate were Diomedes and his family. They believed in security. He found refuge in his country home, near the walls of Pompeii. They shut themselves away in their magnificent wine cellars, expecting that the eruption would be of short duration. But the scourge confounded the strategy of Deomides, and his cadaver and of those with him were found, having searched [in vain] for salvation in the subterraneam cellars and vaults. These cellars are immense and could contain a large number of wine amphoras.

Pompeii, to judge by the paintings that one sees on the walls was a city of pleasure. It was of the same sort as Sodom. We left the ruins of this unfortunate city. From a distance, we saw Vesuvius with its eternal crest of white smoke. It appeared to contemplate its work, the volcano that was probably the vengeance of God.

Naples. The proverb says: see Naples and die. Naples, [viewed] from the ancient convent of the Chartreuse confiscated by the Revolution, offers a magnificent view. At our feet, we glimpse the great city of which the houses are built ampitheater [style], the sea envelops like a blue belt. The sun, a white sun brightens and makes it dazzle. Yes, Naples is admirable, We are to stay only one night in Naples and we got to learn of a scourge that we had not found until now: I speak of mosquitoes.

Tuesday afternoon, we leave.


Rome, 23 November

We are in Rome, we packed our luggage and tomorrow we will sleep in Florence.

Assisi—we have left Rome, yesterday, at 6:00 in the morning. At noon, we glimpsed Assisi. The town of Assisi is completely built on the slopes of a mountain that is dominated by a chateau-fort. From Assisi, one enjoys a magnificent view; at our feet a valley planted with olive groves, cut by a dried out mountain stream. At a distance, the mountains.

We visited first the churches raised in honor of St. Francis. There, three churches are superimposed [on one another]. First, the subterranean church. This is where St. Francis reposes. The body is within a tomb, near which lamps burn without ceasing.

We then visited the other two churches. The superior church is very beautiful and decorated with rich paintings. The Italian Revolution, following the steps of the French Revolution, does not respect the memories attached to cloisters at the Franciscan churches of Assisi, and now these so venerable places are national property.

Assisi also possesses the sanctuary where one venerates the relics of St. Clare. We have contemplated the face of the saint. Her body is perfectly conserved and, not withstanding the blackening that time has imprinted on the relics, one would say that the Saint died only yesterday.

At last, we entered the celebrated church of the Portioncule. One sees in the Basilica, the little chapel that St Francis received from the Benedictines, [then] all dilapitated, and which he restored with his hands. It is to this chapel that is attached the indulgence of the Portioncule. Once can see in the church the room where St. Francis died. The cell is narrow and worthy of him who experienced mystical nights with poverty.

The Franciscan Fathers led us to the Rose garden. One day, St. Francis, propelled by his love for penitence, rolled with his exposed shoulders over a flower bed of roses, so that its thorns penetrated his body, making him suffer torments for which his soul was insatiable. The rose bushes were stained with the blood of St. Francis. Afterwards, they lost their thorns and preserved on their leaves stains: these were the stains of blood of St. Francis of Assisi. If one tranplants these rose bushes, they will take root but the thorns will also reappear. It is only in the mystical garden of penitence that the roses do not have thorns.

We reboarded the train and, at !0, we arrived in Florence, after having skirted the beautiful Lake Trasimene where long ago Hannibal expereinced a bitter failure at the hands of the Roman army.

Florence—is a beautiful city with large and well paved streets. The inhabitants are not tattered like in the other Italian cities that we have walked through

We have visited the Cathedral: its exterior aspects are magnificent. The monument is covered from summit to base with marble of diverse colors and frescoes. But the interior does not respond to the promise of the exterior and one experiences a [certain] deception in entering into the cold vaults with an austerity approaching deprivation. The copula is beautiful and decorated with frescoes.

Santa Croce is the Florentine Pantheon. There, we admired the tombs of the great men of Florence: Michelangelo, Dante, Galileo, the Bonaparte family whose name figures in the golden book of Florence, and possess a chapel where many members of the family are burried.

Florence has many museums of inconceivable richness. Visits to these museums absorved the greater part of our time. But, because the time is passed contemplating masterpieces, we have no regrets! The museums of the Uffizi (Offices in French) and the Pitti Palace contain the canvases of the greatest Masters: Raphael, Andrea del Sorte, Carlo Dolci. One can also see there ancient statues, busts of the emperors of Rome. It was with vivid curiousity that we glimpsed the figures of Nero, Domitian, Augustus, Caracalla, etc.

Also interesting, but less rich, is the Museum of St. Mark. It is an old Dominican convent stolen by the Revolution. The cloisters, the refectory are painted by Fra Angelico of Fiesole. Each cell possesses a painting by this angelic painter. One sees [in] the cell of St. Antonin many objects that belonged to him. One also sees the cell of Savonarola, whom the Revolution has made a martyr and to whom it has erected a monument. The monastic cell still contains the desk on which Savonarola worked, the crucifix before which he prayed, and this I recommend to the Revolutionaries who have insulted the celebrated Dominican by painting him as one of theirs, the cilice and the instruments of penance with which he chastised his body for the love of God.


Pisa, 27 November

We left Florence and, at 4 in the afternoon we arrived at Pisa. Pisa is called a “dead' city.   It is not dead, but quiet. The streets are beautiful, the quays are gay and the Arno flows to the very river edge in the middle of the city.

We have this morning (27 November) visited the Cathedral. It is a splendid monument, both the interior and the exterior. It is one of the rare churches of Italy that we have admired without reservation.

I have not spoken about the famous leaning Tower, all the world knows it. It is a marvel to see this tower that has an inclination of four meters that appears to menace ruin and that defies time. This evening, we arrived in Genova, the superb. It deserves its name because it is a grand and beautiful city. It will be impossible to write to you anew because we leave tomorrow at a early hour.



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