May 23, 2012 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn

Fifteen students are set to depart on May 23 for a nine-day excursion to Italy that will bring in-class learning to life. Upon their arrival to Rome, they will set out to explore the city’s major basilicas and churches, the Roman Forum and Colosseum, and a number of the lesser-known jewels of history which are easily missed in general tours. The trip will also include a full-day excursion to Assisi, the birthplace of St. Francis.

In planning for the journey, the group has been working closely with the Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi (an office of the Vatican) to organize several tours of major sites (including the Vatican) and to gain entry to less accessible sites like the Scavi, the archaeological excavations of an ancient burial site at the Vatican.

 “We hope students will return with a richer understanding of the history and character of Christianity and especially Catholic Christianity,” explains Mark Yenson, King’s faculty member and co-organizer. “We hope it will give students a sense of how Christianity rubbed shoulders with other ancient cultures and religious traditions and took over many aspects of its surrounding culture and context.”

Students will also have the opportunity to experience a living tradition of worship and prayer at the heart of the Catholic Church, at the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore and in the Crypt of the Popes at St. Peter's Basilica.

“I think the bodily experience of making a journey, reaching a destination (with all the fatigue and disorientation involved) and then standing in places where history "happened" forms the whole person in a special way,” Yenson continues. “Pilgrims throughout history have tapped into this experience. The act of being there breathes life into other courses and areas of study that students undertake including literature, the fine arts and politics. Being in Rome means experiencing a lived tradition expressed in art, architecture, music and social interaction.”

Many of the students participating are enrolled in the Catholic Studies for Teachers program at King’s and will be accompanied by Philosophy and Religious Studies faculty Julius-Kei Kato and Mark Yenson.