Prior to the days of the celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe, I was able to travel to Italy for some days. The first reason I went was to solemnize the contract for the St. Peter's at duskrestoration of the Hazel Wright organ in the now Christ Cathedral. It is one of the largest pipe organs in the United States and indeed the world, and is well known. This magnificent instrument is certainly now a part of the musical patrimony and heritage of the Christ Cathedral campus. The music which has come from this instrument is “a fair and glorious gift of God” as St. Augustine would say, and will lift the hearts of all who come to the campus – rich and poor alike – to the presence of God.

After a flight from Paris over the Italian Alps to Venice I was met by Piero RuffattiOver the alps who drove me to Padua. Piero, his daughter Michaela, and his brother Francesco were wonderful hosts. We solemnized the contract in a chapel of the Basilica of St. AnthonyThe basilica of Padua, after which I had the chance to meet the Rector of the Basilica, Fr. Enzo OFM. Conv. We had a wonderful pilgrimage in the Basilica and were able to spend some time at the tomb of St. Anthony of Padua. Even on a week day, there were crowds of people praying at his tomb, asking for his guidance and intercession! Our Diocese is not only grateful to the Ruffatti family for their artistic care and commitment to the restoration of this historic instrument, but as well for their kindness and professionalism and wonderful family spirit!

Following that visit, I took the train to Rome and stayed at the North American College where I was able to visit our seminarians and priests who are studying in Rome and working at the Holy See. The Eternal City was already becoming decorated with the lights of the season. Nativity setsPiazza Navona were being set up all over, including Piazza San Pietro. The City itself, and the country of Italy, was also preparing for the celebration of the Immaculate Conception which is a national holiday. The Holy Father traditionally visits the Piazza di Spagna on that day to lay a wreath at the base of the column with the Immaculate Conception. This day helps us to reflect on God’s providential plans for all of us from all eternity, as for the Mother of God, and leads us to reflect on her openness to the will of God in her life. The time in Rome concluded with a Mass and dinner with all of the priests Presepio in Restaurantand seminarians from California and Nevada who are studying, teaching, or working in The Chapel of the NACRome. We celebrated Mass in the Dominican Friars chapel at the Angelicum and went to dinner afterward!

Vergine Immaculata, Aiutatici! E Buon Natale a tutti quanti!

Next – on to the celebration of Simbang Gabi and the Posadas!!

Video: Bishop Kevin Vann visits Fratteli Ruffati factory and signs contract