At the end of a day with many unexpected happenings, I find there is no time left to finish the piece I have started on my visit to the Benedictine Monastery of Brevnov. I want to do it justice and accompany it by some of the many photos I took so I’ll dedicate special time to that story tomorrow.

I’m sure you saw my earlier post on vespers and the encounter by Pope Francis with 70,000 young altar servers from around the world. Perhaps you even saw some of it on TV or followed live coverage, as you can of similar papal events, on http://www.vaticannews,va

In addition to “programmed” work days and/or “unexpected happenings,” I have computer issues that enormously slow me down every single day – has been this way for months with no remedy in sight except to bring the computer to the tech people at the store where I bought it in December. However, I’m afraid the idea of turning my computer over to people I don’t know terrifies me. Yes, of course, I have a backup on an external hard drive.

Bearing in mind I’ve not dropped my computer or spilled anything on it, here and the three main issues I’m dealing with:

1. The cursor goes where it wants when it wants. I can be typing a story or an email or whatever and when I cannot see the last words I just typed, I search high and low on the page and voila, there it is, usually a couple of lines or a paragraph above the one I was writing.
2. The language changes whenever the computer feels that should be done. I am programmed for English UK – Italian keyboard. BUT, in the middle of a sentence (throughout my working day) it changes to English UK – UK keyboard – all the symbols are different – quote marks, parentheses, astericks, etc.
3. The absolute worst part is that, without any warning whatsoever, I can lose the last line or paragraph of whatever I have been typing. If I have failed to save a document for a line or two or a para or two, those lines or that para is gone (you cannot see it but my cursor just moved as I was typing those last words!). I have NO idea what key – or combination thereof! – I have touched – certainly not the ‘delete’ key!

All of the above have happened in each of the preceding paragraphs!


Just for fun, here are a few of the photos I took during my time in Prague that will give you just a small idea of the variety, the charm and the beauty of the buildings in Prague.

I offer a few single pictures and then a slideshow:

And now a slideshow:

And this structure is know as the “the dancing couple” – sometimes called “Fred and Ginger” (as in Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers from days well gone by)



As I write, Pope Francis has just entered St. Peter’s Square on what has been probably the hottest day of the year – we have been in the high 90s (38 celsius) and tomorrow are supposed to reach 100 – to say vespers with and address some 70,000 young altar servers from 18 countries and islands. This is the 12th annual event and the young men and women traditionally come to Rome for several days, including time with the Holy Father.

Vespers start at 6:30 and after that Pope Francis, on the final day of his “working vacation,” will address the young people.

I hope and pray there will be enough water to go around. I know that, in the past on similar hot days, the Vatican has made sure there are hundreds, if not thousands of bottles of water ready for the pilgrims.

The young altar servers have been in Rome for several days and each group, be it a parish or a diocese, distinguishes itself by wearing identifying neck scarves, hats or shirts (or all three). You’d have to have stayed at home for four days note to note the huge crowds of young people!

They hail from Italy, Belgium, Croatia, Luxembourg, Austria, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Switzerland, Serbia. Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Ukraine, Hungary, the United States and from several Caribbean islands. The largest group – at least 50,000 – comes from Germany.

The following is a piece from Vatican media – it speaks of the goRome! App, something you might want to try!

More than 70,000 altar servers from 18 different countries, and many more nationalities, begin the 12th International Pilgrimage for Altar Boys and Girls under the motto, “Seek Peace and Pursue it!” (Psalm 34:15).

By Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp (vaticanmedia)

“Seek Peace and Pursue it!” is the motto for the 12th International Pilgrimage of Altar Boys and Girls which began in Rome on Monday and ends on Saturday. More than 70,000 altar servers between the ages of 13 and 23 from 18 countries, and many more nationalities, are participating in this year’s pilgrimage.

Altar servers – missionaries of peace

The International Pilgrimage of Altar Boys and Girls is organized by Coetus Internationalis Ministrantium (CIM), an international organization for the pastoral care of altar servers. Founded in 1960, the organization, then and now, seeks to foster peace beyond borders in order to create a world at peace. Dr Klára Csiszár, Vice President of CIM, says that CIM fosters a sense that altar servers are missionaries who “help to carry the world-changing power of God’s love from the altar into the world”.

Bringing altar servers together from many nations, and even more nationalities, helps deepen religious identity, strengthen communion, and “shows the young people the worldwide dimension of their ministry”, says Bishop Stefan Oster, SDB, President of the Commission for Youth Ministry of the German Bishops’ Conference.

Blind date scheduled

Pilgrims will be identifiable by a scarf personalized according to diocese and country. In addition to various spiritual and liturgical experiences, some pilgrims will go on a blind date, meeting others at random to pray and play together. The highlight of the event is on Tuesday evening when the pilgrims will participate in an Extraordinary Audience with Pope Francis in St Peter’s Square.

goRome! App

Pilgrims can download the goRome! App where they can find a game with St Tarcisius, practical information for getting around Rome, prayers, event locations, handy words in Italian, emergency information — and even locations to the nearest water fountain and gelateria. The goHome! Section will then accompany the altar servers home after the pilgrimage as they reenter their normal lives after such a strong faith experience.

Personal testimony

One of the pilgrims is Jonas Ferstl, an 18-year-old from Germany, who became an altar server after making his First Communion because he wanted to continue connecting with the Faith. He describes serving at the altar as a wonderful experience and that the service he performs in Church should also be identifiable elsewhere. With the recent death of his grandfather, he has felt the importance of his faith. It is that faith, he says, that assures him that his grandfather is in a better place.

(The papal homily and his address to young people will soon be posted in summary form on in both Italian and English)