On Top of the Vatican Dome

 “Have you been at the copula (on top) of the Vatican dome?” This question was posed to us twins a few days before our departure from Rome by Rosie Labon, our landlady.  I immediately answered ‘yes’, but Luz said ‘no’.  It turned out I was referring to the Vatican Museum where we saw the Sistine Chapel during our previous visits to Rome.

     When we were alone, Luz said, “you immediately answered ‘yes’, just because we don’t have money left.” 

I am sure we all have tales to share on God’s Providence and this is our story.

On June 24, 2004, we had a concluding mass in our class at the Gregorian University. It was a touching concelebrated graduation mass presided by Rev. Robert White, Rev. Jacob Srampickal and classmate Fr. Monyo Marcello Romano, mccj. Some of the graduates came in their national costumes while we twins arrived dressed in white.

After the homily of Rev. White, each one offered intercessory prayers. The concluding Reflection song was composed by Emmanuel A.B. Turay. Of the 25 graduates, unfortuntely, Luz did not receive her certificate on that day. She was handed a certificare for picture taking only. And the following day we went to the University to pick it up.

After receiving our certificates of completion we the graduates went to Villa Borghese Park. The picnic at the park with plenty of food and drinks was courtesy of Rev. White.

It was already late when the picnic was over but we had another destination. We wanted to see the boarding house where Myrna Bermudo stays. It was a convent where Sr. Myrna Estrada, also a Filipina was the superior.

“Sister, we want to go up the Vatican dome, but we do not have money for the elevator ride. Can you give us the money as graduation gift?” How much, she asked? “10 euros”, I replied. She opened her Liturgy of the Hours Prayer book she was holding. Behold, was the exact 10 euros we need stuck on one of the pages and she told me to get it. Then she brought me to their kitchen, opened the storage and gave plenty of food. 

After we left the convent, we were waiting, waiting, waiting for a bus that would bring us home. After waiting so long, we realized we were at the wrong waiting area and so we transferred to the other lane. It was past 12 when we reached Piazza Venezia, which was near the Gregorian University. There were no more buses so we couldn’t go home. Luz left the telephone number and we didn’t thought of taking a taxi. We climbed the stairs near the Piazza and ate. Luz wanted us to just continue walking but at 2 a.m. I was getting dizzy and felt it would be dangerous. I forced her that we sleep at the Gregorian doorsteps. “Just cover yourself, nobody knows us here,” I said. And so we slept for two hours and then continued to walk around the place until we had a ride home.

We reasoned out, God might have wanted us to see Rome at night before going back home to the Philippines. We reached home at 6 in the morning with our boarding mates upset that we did not call home to inform of our whereabouts. When asked where we slept, we told ‘at the Gregorian’. Our landlady told us she will inform Fr. Rene, the priest whom Rev. White requested to look for a place for us to stay. But later on she said, Fr. sighed, What a pity!

The following day, June 25, Sister Regina of the Good Shepherd invited us twins and Myrna Bermudo, her three Filipina classmates to their place. After appreciating the beautiful and spacious place and partaking of the good food, I remembered the t-shirt of Michelangelo which Luz had wanted to buy as a souvenir because of the portrait of Adam and God.

“Sr. Regina, could you give us money as a graduation gift to buy t-shirt?”   Sr. Regina gladly gave 15 euros; 5 each for the three of us. With the 10 euros we went straight to the stalls and bought the t-shirts. Wearing the Michelangelo t-shirt, we were on top of the Vatican Dome.  A tourist may have felt our joy while Luz and I alternately got our pictures that he volunteered to take our pictures together. On top of the Vatican Dome, with sweet smiles we were photographed holding our cherished certificate of completion for the special course at the Gregorian University.

The seed of faith is planted to us at our Baptism. The ability to believe God’s Providence is a grace, a gift from God. The humility of asking makes us become witnesses of God’s love.

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