Mackay Family Abroad 2010-11 travel blog

Ruby and Louis inside the Domus Australia building

The kids dinner table.

Inside the Vatican Gardens

The secret garden

14th of October

We had a lazy morning. Mum went out to do some shopping and take a stroll while Dad and the kids stayed at home watched a couple of movies and worked on a puzzle. That afternoon we walked to Guilio Cesare Hotel and met up with Lou and Karl Morris and the other members of the Sydney Diocese group that has travelled over to Rome for the Canonisation of Mary MacKillop. We got a bus from there and took it to Domus Australia, the first Australian pilgrim destination in Rome. It is currently under construction and we were able to investigate the worksite. It will be a pretty amazing place when it is finished, but before renovations commenced it must have been an absolute dump. Cardinal Pell told us the building was bought from the Marist Brothers. All the great artwork in the building had been ignored for a long time,but much of it was now being restored. After looking around at the church, the accomodation, kitchen etc., we went to a nearby restaurant called Grappolo d'Oro for drinks. They were held outside on the footpath and gave everyone the opportunity to meet and find out about each other. We then had dinner hosted by Monsignor John Usher. We had chicken schnitzel and chips. It was delicious. We got home late and went to bed.

15th of October

Today we went to the Vatican gardens with the Sydney Diocese group. We got up, had breakfast and walked to the left side gate of St. Peters which was a special entrance into the Vatican. We walked around the back of St. Peters to the main part of the Vatican Museum. While there, we grabbed a headset and followed a guide throughout the Vatican gardens. She was very knowledgable and described everything in detail but didn't make it boring. There was a little square with a House of Reflection, built by Pius IV. Popes could spend up to three days in this house just to get away from every day life so he could just reflect without anyone disturbing him. How good would that be. Get away from school and work and just reflect. Next there was an amazing fountain which had an eagle on top {the eagle was a Roman relic gifted to Pius XI by Mussolini after the creation of the Vatican State in 1929} and dragons to the left and right of the eagle. It was my favourite part of the Gardens. It used an ancient system of recycling the water so that it just kept going round and round. It was awesome. After a thorough investigation of the Gardens we said G'day to Bishop Brady then we walked to the restaurant St. Marco for lunch. I had steak and it was delicious. We had a lazy afternoon then Mum and Dad went out for an official fundraiser with the adults of the Sydney diocese for dinner. I forgot to mention our tour guide said a very funny story. When Pope Pius XII went for his afternoon walk he didn't want anyone in the gardens at the time. Everyone still had to do their jobs, but for the hour he took his walk, they would all hide behind bushes, trees and rocks. After Pius XII died, the workers continued that tradition when the new Pope John XXIII came in to the Vatican. He went for his afternoon walks and realised that noone was outaround. He thought that his workers were being slack so he spoke to the people running the Vatican security and gardens. Everyone went back to working as normal when the Pope took his afternoon walk. This gave John the opportunity to meet and talk with them. He found out many workers hadnt had a pay rise for 30 years. He immediately raised all their wages. This made him very popular.

Thanks everyone for the emails. We are having a great time. Next update will include the Canonisation of Mary MacKillop.



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