March 11, 2020 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn

Written by Kylie Castle, King’s Communications Intern

It was a Reading Week to remember for the 13 King’s students and two faculty who took part in a pilgrimage around Rome during an experiential learning course, Rome and the Christian Tradition. The majority of the students who participated are currently enrolled in the Catholic Studies for Teachers (CST) program at King’s, with the remainder in Catholic Studies, World Religions, Thanatology, and Philosophy. The students were accompanied by Religious Studies professors Dr. Mark Yenson and Dr. Jonathan Geen.

The group attended the Papal Audience at the Vatican, where a two of the students had the opportunity to shake hands with the Pope, being seated in the front of the papal audience. The rest of the class also saw the Pope. It was certainly a special moment for everyone. During the nine-day pilgrimage, students experienced the ancient history, art, architecture, and spiritual heritage of Rome. They explored the city’s ruins, churches, and basilicas while gaining a deeper insight of Christian traditions and beliefs. Through visiting historical Christian architecture, including the Roman Forum, the Vatican, the Pantheon, the Colosseum, and the Four Papal Basilicas, students experienced Christianity in a way their textbooks could not provide them with.

Students also had the opportunity to experience worship and prayer at the heart of the Catholic Church. Through guided tours of the Sancta Sanctorum, the Holy Stairs, and the Papal Basilica of St. Giovanni in Laterano, students deepened their understanding of Christian tradition and faith.

Dr. Yenson, Chair of Religious Studies at King’s, explains the Rome and the Christian Tradition course is open to everyone, with the course material centred around Christian traditions and beliefs. Yenson states Religious Studies strongly intersects with history, art, and politics. Students enrolled in the Rome and the Christian Tradition course were asked to experience the cultural legacy of Rome, while being reflective about how they experience the course material in relation to their own cultural beliefs and traditions.  The half-credit course runs every other year starting in the winter term.

“The value of studying religion for people of all faiths is to develop empathy for others. It allows you to see things from their perspective,” says Cassandra MacEachern, third-year CST student.

“This course is bringing what we’re learning to life. This course is more than a theory, but an experience that you continue to remember and look back upon,” states Kysandra Gills, a third-year CST student.

Experiential learning at King’s is an opportunity for students to learn beyond the realms of the classroom. “This experience has really shown me more about who I am. In terms of my education, it has been incredibly beneficial and influential,” says Danielle McCann, third-year CST student, who was one of the students who met Pope Francis

Rome and the Christian Tradition provides students with various symbolic opportunities to explore Christianity at the heart of Christian faith. Religious Studies experiential learning students had the ability to gain a deep understanding of the culture, background, and beliefs which exist in Rome and within Christianity.

To learn more about Rome and the Christian Tradition, please visit

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