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Ten Things of Thankful: Halfway Around the World and Back Through Time


A beautiful stained glass mural showing Jesus Christ healing a man. Various other Bible stories are also depicted.

About this time last year, John and I had booked a vacation that we ended up having to cancel for reasons beyond our control. At the time we canceled, we were given the option of a refund of part of the money, or we could get all of the money refunded if we took the airfare portion as a credit. We chose the credit, but failed to read the fine print well enough. Surprise, surprise, the airfare credit expired within a year, and was only good if we booked a hotel package at the same time. First world problem for sure, but we needed to book a vacation. We thought we'd just take a quick trip in January to somewhere warmer than Utah, and had decided on San Antonio, Texas--somewhere neither of us have been. I researched the trip, but didn't hit the book button. When I returned to the site a few days later to book, the cost had increased quite a bit. No offense to Texas, but we didn't want to spend that much on a vacation that was a "use it or lose it" trip. I started looking at other options. To our utter surprise, it was cheaper for us to spend 10 days in Rome, Italy, than it was going to be to go to San Antonio for a week! John and I never imagined we would return to Italy four years after first visiting that country, but we managed to do just that, thanks to some amazing deals and a good currency exchange rate. 

The Trevi Fountain in Rome. We tossed a coin in 4 years ago, and apparently it worked! We tossed another in this time, too, so we can come again. 

In the western United States, "old" buildings are those from the early 1900's, and "really old" buildings are from the 1800's. Not so in Italy. The Colosseum dates to 80 A.D. Museums are filled with ancient Roman art. John and I walked down the Appian Way, which was built in 312 B.C. Not only did we travel halfway around the world, we seemed to step back in time. 

The Colosseum in Rome

Our course of study this year in Sunday School is the New Testament. We visited the prison where Peter and Paul were held in Rome. We had a tour of the necropolis under St. Peter's Basilica, and saw Peter's burial spot (and bones). All around us, we saw sculptures, paintings, and mosaics that were religious in nature. 

The Mamertine prison, where Peter and Paul were held

One of the Michelangelo Pietas. Michelangelo sculpted his own face on Nicodemus' body. 

In the museum at the Duomo in Florence, in the room where the above Pieta is displayed, is a poem Michelangelo wrote toward the end of his life. It states:

The course of my life has brought me now
Through a stormy sea, in a frail ship,
To the common port where, landing,
We account for every deed, wretched or holy.

So that finally I see
How wrong the fond illusion was
That made my art my idol and my king, 
Leading me to want what harmed me.

My amorous fancies, once foolish and happy,
What sense have they, now that I approach two deaths,
The first of which I know is sure, the second threatening.

Let neither painting nor carving any longer calm
My soul turned to that divine love
Who to embrace us opened his arms upon the cross.

This is the same Michelangelo who painted the Sistine Chapel! His works seemed always to focus on God, but his poem indicates his desire to make clear that God is the true source of love and contentment. 

Four years ago, John and I attended the open house of the Rome Italy Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This time, we had the opportunity to return to the temple and the visitor's center. The photo at the top of this post is from the visitor's center. As you can see from the following photos, the focus of everything in the temple is Christ. 

The Christus statue in the temple visitor's center, with statues of the apostles behind

The reflection of the temple in the glass of the visitor's center fits perfectly behind the Christus

Though photos aren't allowed inside the temple, here is a scale model showing the interior: baptismal font on the first level, chapel, instruction rooms, and celestial room on the second level, and a sealing room on the top level.

Today in church, someone spoke about the great commandments: love God, and love your neighbor. My Ten Things of Thankful list this week can be similarly summarized. No matter where or when a person lives, he or she can be an example of those two commandments. Early Christians did not have it easy, but there are so many examples of those who faithfully lived their religion. I'm thankful for Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father, and I'm thankful for people all over the world who are loving and kind. I could list many more things I am thankful for, but everything else would be an appendage to those two, so I'll count this list as complete this week. (The fact that I'm still a little jet-lagged might have a tiny bit to do with it, too!)

What are you thankful for? Visit the Ten Things of Thankful blog hop and see what others are saying!


  1. Such a blessing in disguise, that mistake in booking! Yes, loving G-d and each other, having friends and family, these are the biggest things, the best things.

    Welcome home!

  2. very cool*

    *the reality-wrangling with tickets and possible destinations and ending up in the best place (aka never would have guessed it) and as always rather excellent photos to further illustrate on of the better forms of TToT, i.e. 'Let me share where I've been!'

  3. Wow, beautiful historic pictures to remember a great vacation.

  4. How exciting to go to Rome AND that it was more economical than going to Texas! I can't imagine how awestruck I'd be in the presence of all of that architecture and art. I'm glad you and John got to take such a magical trip. You deserved it!
    Love one another as I have loved you - so simple, yet so hard for so many


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