Thursday, May 9, 2013


One of the many places my grandparents (Charles and Theresa Nebgen Sherlock) visited on their whirlwind European tour of 1961 was Rome.  Practicing Roman Catholics their entire life, the Vatican was a "must see" destination for them. Theresa wrote an interesting story in her travel diary about their trip to Rome.

Charles and Theresa were staying at this hotel in Rome as part of their tour.  Monsignor Thomas Ryan came to the hotel to visit another couple who were on the tour.  Charlie heard the Irish brogue from the monsignor and stopped to talk to him. Monsignor Ryan was teaching the Pope (Pope John XXIII) to speak English.  They discussed the monsignor's secretary and found out that she was found County Mayo in Ireland (where  Charles' mother grew up).  Then Charles found out that he was related to the monsignor's secretary on the Kilroy (Charles' maternal grandmother) side.  Hey, Grandpa Charlie was doing genealogy way back then!

The next day Charles and Theresa visited many of the sites of Rome and Vatican City -- Quirinal Palace, Sistine Chapel, lunch at Alfredo's, Coliseum, St. Paul's Gate, Tomb of Keats, Basilica of St. Paul and Palace of Caesar (Circus Maximus).  On the following day (Sunday), they hadn't heard any word about an audience with the Pope but then at breakfast heard that 7 members of their group were having an audience with the Pope.  So, Charles called his "newly found' relative [the secretary of the monsignor] and the monsignor said that they should meet him at St. Peter's.  The monsignor took Charlie and Theresa through a private entrance  to see the Pope.

According to Theresa's diary, "we were sitting on his [the Pope] left side, we touched his steps, [he] made nice talk in Italian, then gave us his blessings.  After that he said the Angelus and gave blessings to all the people in the square so we had to two blessings.  Then we went to the 12:00 Mass and Communion at St. Peter's".  How exciting that must have been for Grandpa Charlie and Grandma Theresa!

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