Monday, May 23, 2011

Roman Surprises 2 (to me anyway): Rigatoni and St Joseph's Chapel

Over the hectic but very enjoyable pre-Blogmeet lunch, I learned why the Romans favour rigatoni as being short tubes ahead of spaghetti strings.  It is simply because the hollow tubular construction of the former, allows it to absorb the flavoursome juices from the sauce with which it is served. The hollow bit is of greater diameter than in macaroni and so is more effective. Not only that, but none of the sauce is wasted and left swimming around on the plate when the pasta has been eaten.It is as logical and explicable as the French habit of marinading meat for hours before it is committed to the oven, or the 'fire' as it is always called in old recipe books.. As as an Anglo and Franco cook I've never had the time for proper study of the specifics of  pasta cuisine. Anyway it's not the sort of thing most modern recipe books would tell you. Another factor in this Roman business-person's lunch-time pasta preference, is that rigatoni  is more easily eaten without spillage down ones clothes, which are thus kept impeccable for the return to the office in the afternoon. I had the impression that had I chosen a spaghetti dish, I should definitely have given myself away as a non-Roman.tourist. That factor is of no relevance in my decision to cook with rigatoni in the future. The vastly improved flavour over the old stand-by 'spag. bol', most definetely is.

Like many visitors I thought that the Blessed Sacrament was only reserved in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel where It is exposed all day between the morning Mass and the 5pm one. You can see the noble proportions and lofty ceiling of this chapel in the photograph below.

On the afternoon of my visit,  the Basilica and the Chapel were so crowded that the latter felt almost claustrophobic and much smaller than it is in reality. I suppose it must have been about 4.14pm when we entered and knelt to pray before the Blessed Sacrament. We did not stay for the Mass because of my Seminarian's limited time and because we fully believed that I would be able to attend Mass in St Peter's the following morning before the General Audience.I suppose at about 5pm, he led me to St Joseph's chapel which is beyond the Sacristy on the other side of the nave, telling me as we approached it that most people don't reallise  the Blessed Sacrament is reserved there too, although firmly hidden in the tabernacle. I think he realised that if he didn't find somewhere quiet and unpopulated, I would probably collapse or explode. It was entirely due to his sensitivity because I gave no indication of how I felt inside. And so we came to the chapel of St Joseph

It was even less populated than in the above photo, although I don't know how those people with bare arms managed to get in on the occasion when it was taken. It must have been a very hot day and the Swiss Guards were feeling less inclined to enforce the 'dress code' than is normally their wont.

But oh, on May 3rd, what blessed balm of peace and solitude whilst the 'madding crowd' beat by, only a matter of yards to our right , but now amazingly they were totally unheard. In the silence it was suddenly possible to pray for them all, to realise the enormity of where I was, and with Whom..
The photo at the head of this post shows the pew in front of the one where I knelt that afternoon. I was aware that there was a nun in front of me too. But that is all. Reflecting now, I wonder whether perhaps there is an Order which makes sure that Our Lord is never left unattended in this chapel of His foster father.

I am sorry that this description is so inadequate.
We must have been there for at least ten minutes, and then we went down to the Grottoes by a way other than the two I knew about. DV, more of that  and other surprises tomorrow. In the meantime, God bless all here.

In Christo pro Papa,



shadowlands said...

It all sounds beautiful. I am not too good in crowded places though, so would appreciate the almost empty chapel, especially when visiting Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. I have learnt to switch off from noise, in Mass and become aware of God's presence but I prefer to not have to do that.

Jane said...

Nor am I Ros. That's why the finding of St. Joseph's chapel was such a gift and a grace. I'll try to explain in future posts. I too am used to the babble you describe. Odd to go all the way to Rome and there find the extreme of babble, and the Holy extreme of Peace with Jesus. Deo gratias.

God bless you.