Today is officially an EWTN holiday and I honestly intended not to think about work but then I realized I had to share an important story with you – how Memorial Day is celebrated not only in the U.S. but also in Italy in a big way at several military cemeteries. I’ve been several times to Nettuno, about which I write today and I want to share with you that story, including some photos I took on one occasion.   As I always do, I’ll repost this on my Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Tune in to “At Home with Jim and Joy” today (2 pm ET) when I speak of Memorial Day celebrations in Italy!

Maybe I’ll take tomorrow off!


I have been to this cemetery in Nettuno, 38 miles south of Rome on Italy’s Atlantic coast, and it is beautiful and peaceful and a special place to be in silence, to pray for the dead, to pray that there will never be another war, as Pope Francis did on All Souls Day 2017 when he celebrated Mass here.

It is beautiful to be here any day of the year but especially on Memorial Day

The 2023 Memorial Day celebration at Nettuno took place on Saturday, May 27th. U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See Joseph Donnelly was present for the always impressive ceremony.

Some photos I took on a previous Memorial Day visit:

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As its website explains, the World War II Sicily-Rome American Cemetery and Memorial site in Nettuno covers 77 acres, including a broad pool with an island and a cenotaph flanked by groups of Italian cypress trees. A cenotaph is an empty tomb or a monument erected in honor of a person or group of people whose remains are elsewhere – essentially, a Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Beyond the pool is the immense field of headstones of 7,858 of American military war dead on broad, beautifully kept green lawns beneath rows of Roman pines. Most of the dead died in the liberation of Sicily (July 10 to August 17, 1943); in the landings in the Salerno Area (September 9, 1943) and the heavy fighting northward; in the landings at Anzio Beach and expansion of the beachhead (January 22, 1944 to May 1944); and in air and naval support in the regions.

There is a chapel here, on whose white marble walls are engraved the names of 3,095 of the missing. Rosettes mark the names of those since recovered and identified. The map room contains a bronze relief map and four fresco maps depicting the military operations in Sicily and Italy. At each end of the memorial are ornamental Italian gardens.

A new, 2,500-square-foot center opened in May 2014.


I hope everyone had a meaningful and happy Memorial Day yesterday. It’s a day off for EWTN staff and, while I did not post my usual blog, I did a lot of other work-related projects. I admit that I yearned (dreamed!) all day long for a family-oriented bar-b-q around a pool and in a lovely garden, visiting with my nieces and nephews (and great nieces and nephews!) and catching up on family news. If you actually did something similar (with or without a pool), I’m sure you obeyed all the health protocols and managed to have a good time notwithstanding everything.

I actually went to dinner at La Vittoria! everyone had masks except clients. of course, as we eat. In the envelope on the table was a letter from my best friend in Hawaii and a special mask made by a friend of hers. One side depicts St. Damien who worked for years alongside victims of leprosy on Kalaupapa, Moloka’i and the other side, as you see, colorful crosses!  I might be the only person in Rome to have a Hawaiian mask!



This Sunday, May 31, Pentecost Sunday, the Holy Father will celebrate Holy Mass at 10 am in the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament in the Vatican Basilica, without the participation of the faithful.

At 12:00 noon, from the window of his private study, the Holy Father will resume the recitation of the Regina Coeli prayer with the faithful in St. Peter’s Square. Law enforcement will ensure safe access to the square and will ensure that the faithful present can respect the necessary interpersonal distance.


The Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization has announced that Pope Francis is to join Marian shrines across the world, to pray to the Virgin Mary for help amidst the pandemic.

By Gabriella Ceraso (vaticannews)

“Devoted and with one accord to prayer, together with Mary (cf. Acts 1:14)”. On this theme Pope Francis will lead the recitation of the Rosary on Saturday May 30, joining the Marian Shrines of the world that, due to the health emergency, have had to interrupt their normal activities and pilgrimages.

The Pope will once again be close to humanity in prayer, to ask the Virgin Mary for help amid the pandemic. The prayer will be broadcast live to the world from the Grotto of Lourdes in the Vatican Gardens at 5:30pm Rome time.

The Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization that is promoting the initiative, has given dozens of rosaries to families and individuals who represent the areas most involved and most affected by the coronavirus pandemic. These include doctors and nurses, recovered patients and people who have suffered a loss, a hospital chaplain, a pharmacist and a journalist, a Civil Defence volunteer with his family and a family who welcomed their newest member into the world during this difficult time. They will all be present to express hope.

The Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization writes that at the end of this Marian month, Pope Francis will place the sorrows of all humanity at the feet of our heavenly Mother, certain that she will not fail to help.

The largest sanctuaries of the five continents will be connected online. These include Lourdes, Fatima, Lujan, Milagro, Guadalupe, San Giovanni Rotondo and Pompeii.

Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, sent out a letter addressed to the rectors of the shrines to invite them to organise and promote this special moment of prayer in accordance with current health regulations and relevant time zones.

The appointment for the end of the Marion month is a further sign of closeness and consolation for all those who in various ways have been struck by the coronavirus in the certainty is that our heavenly mother will listen to all requests for protection.

A separate note from the Council stated: “The rosary decades will be recited by several men and women who will represent various categories of people particularly touched by the virus. There will be a doctor and a nurse for all of the sanitary personnel committed on the front lines of hospitals; a person who has been healed and another person who lost a family member for all of those representing all of those who have personally been touched by coronavirus; a priest, a hospital chaplain and a nun who is a nurse will represent all priests and consecrated persons close to those who have been so tried by the illness; a pharmacist and a journalist representing all persons who, even during the period of the pandemic, have continued to undertake their own work in favor of others; a volunteer from civil protection with their family representing all those who gave themselves to face this emergency and for the entire vast world of volunteerism; a young family to whom was born precisely in this time, a baby boy, a sign of hope and the victory of life over death.


In a letter marking the 25th anniversary of Saint John Paul II’s landmark encyclical “Ut unum sint”, Pope Francis calls for a renewed commitment to ecumenism. Pope Francis has recalled the Church’s “irrevocable” commitment to the task of ecumenism on the 25th anniversary of Saint John Paul II’s encyclical Ut unum sint.In a Letter addressed to Cardinal Kurt Koch, the President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, the Holy Father notes that Ut unum sint was published on the Solemnity of the Ascension, “under the sign of the Holy Spirit, the creator of unity in diversity”. It is in “that same liturgical and spiritual context”, the Pope says, that “we now commemorate it and propose it once more to the People of God”.

The Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem reopens its doors to the faithful limiting access to 50 people at a time. As restrictions due to Covid-19 begin to ease many countries are making their first tentative steps into the next phase of the pandemic. Churches that have been closed for physical worship are opening their doors to the faithful who are asked to observe a series of precautionary measures. In the Holy Land, Tuesday 26 May is the turn of the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem where 50 people will be allowed inside at a time. This comes on the heels of the official reopening of the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre on Sunday, as announced by the Custos of the Holy Land, Father Francis Patton, OFM, and the Greek Orthodox and Armenian Patriarchs of Jerusalem, Theophilus III and Nourhan Manougian.

The Apostolic Nunciature in the Philippine capital Manila has alerted the country’s bishops against a certain Cristian Eduardo Tietze who is falsely claiming to be close to Pope Francis and Vatican officials. Tietze introduces himself as president of the “Peace for Life Foundation”. In a May 22 circular letter to bishops and diocesan administrators, Father Marvin Mejia, the Secretary General of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), said that Monsignor Julien Kaboré, chargé d’affaires of the Apostolic Nunciature in Manila, has written to CBCP President, Archbishop Romulo Valles of Davao, warning dioceses and religious communities against Tietze. Father Mejia warned that the person is “claiming to be close to the Holy Father and to the Holy See”.

As the Laudato Si’ Anniversary Year gets underway, the secretary of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development urges Catholics to take part in the annual Season of Creation. The Season of Creation is an annual ecumenical celebration of prayer and action to protect our common home. It takes place from September 1 – the World Day of Prayer for Creation – to October 4 – the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi. Christians of all traditions are invited to take part by organizing prayer services, community litter clean-ups, or advocacy actions. This year’s event takes place within the context of the special Laudato Si’ Anniversary Year that Pope Francis opened on Sunday, May 24. The Year coincides with the 5th anniversary of his encyclical. The Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development launched a special invitation on Monday urging Catholics to take part in the Season of Creation.


I fly to Chicago tomorrow, spend a few days with relatives, then on to South Bend, Indiana on Saturday to attend a banquet at my alma mater, St. Mary’s of Notre Dame, where I will receive the 2019 Alumna Achievement Award. I still think I’m dreaming! It will be an awesome and exciting moment but very humbling in reality!

I’ll try to write whenever I have a moment in the days I’ll be gone but you can also follow me on Facebook or by tuning in to Vatican Insider, my weekend radio program and next week, as usual, my weekly appearance on Catholic Connection with Teresa Tomeo.

As you know, I took the day off yesterday, officially Memorial Day in the U.S. but it is a commemoration also marked in Italy, obviously a major player in World War II. Today’s column consists of the links to two blogs from one of several visits I’ve made over the years to Nettuno and Anzio in which I tell a wonderful story of a very serendipitous encounter with a WWII vet.


While Memorial Day is special for millions in America it is also very special for many Americans in Italy where, in the town of Nettuno, 38 miles south of Rome and near Anzio on the Mediterranean, there is the World War II Sicily-Rome American Cemetery and Memorial site. This peaceful, bucolic, 77-acre cemetery bears the headstones of 7,858 American military war dead, arranged on broad green lawns beneath rows of Roman pines.

The majority died in the liberation of Sicily (summer 1943); in the landings in the Salerno area (September 9, 1943) in the landings at Anzio Beach and expansion of the beachhead (January to May 1944).

Every year at this time there are special events and services in Anzio, usually in the presence of military and/or U.S. embassy officials. This year, the cemetery hosted its annual Memorial Day Ceremony on Friday May 24 at 5:00 p.m. I have been to several of ceremonies and they are truly beautiful and touching. In addition to the graves – most marked by crosses and some by the Star of David – the names of 3,095 Missing in Action are inscribed on the walls of a small chapel.

Here is Part I of a special visit to Anzio:

And the story goes on in this column: scroll down to “A DAY IN ANZIO, THE TOWN AND PORT”:

You might even want to visit this cemetery and these seaside towns on your next trip to Italy. An easy train ride and well worth the time!