6th October

Began with a wonderful tour of the catacombs this morning with Brother Obet, a Salesian from the Philippines. I expect all Salesians to have heard of Sr. Ella but apparently not. He took us through the early Christian art and signs and the importance of Jesus as the Good Shepherd to them. Much more so than the image of Jesus on the cross in the early days. We celebrated Mass, reflecting on the martyrs then and our own around Kendal, Dodding Green’s Priest Hole, and the picture of Fr. Thomas Wilkinson in the main church window and his life. Then sat in the sunshine, the only coach there. It is incredible how empty most places are. We came back for a slow cafe lunch and then off to St. Peters for a guided tour and then a walk round the tombs of the Popes. St. John Paul has moved up to the main church since I was here before as has St. John XXIII. St. Paul VI remains down below at his request. Then three of us climbed right to the top of the basilica for breath-taking views on a glorious day. Tonight we are about to wander over the Coelian Hill in the cool of the evening.

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