I had some issues downloading my photos on Thanksgiving Day that kept me from posting a column that very evening but, as the saying goes, better late than never!

A decades-old tradition in Rome, Thanksgiving Day began with 10:30 Mass at St. Patrick’s church for Americans and other English-speaking Catholics in the Eternal City. The American ambassador to the Holy See, Joseph Donnelly – as again is an annual tradition – attended Mass and read the Presidential Thanksgiving Proclamation.

Later in the afternoon, the Pontifical North American College had its traditional Thanksgiving Day Mass, followed by an always-delicious multi-course turkey dinner. We are in Italy, after all, so there had to be an antipasto and some pasta before turkey was served! Again, Ambassador Donnelly read the president’s proclamation.

Priests, seminarians and guests are seated at “state” tables, that is, states with seminarians attending the college decorate their tables so that, at once glance, you are to know which state is celebrating Thanksgiving. You’ll see a few familiar flags, banners, license plates, sports emblems and other items on the tables. And yes, there is an Australia table as several seminarians from down under are studying at NAC.

I was with friends from the Illinois-Ohio table. The youngest guest of the evening, Briella, daughter of the college’s music director, was also at our table. Thursday was her first birthday and the college acknowledged her with a cake and candle and several hundred people singing an enthusiastic Happy Birthday!

Here are some of the photos I took. (And yes, that is a plate of buckeyes!)

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On one wall of the dining room are oil portraits of the Popes, starting with Pius XII, who reigned since the College opened on Janiculum Hill in 1953. I realized that, starting with Pius XII (1939 to 1958), all the pontiffs shown are the Popes of my entire lifetime! John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I (albeit Pope for only 33 days), John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis!

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