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South of Giulio Agricola metro stop stretches one of Rome’s best kept secrets – il Parco degli acquedotti –– as majestic in its way as the Colosseum but hardly a tourist in sight and not associated with mass bloodshed. There across Rome’s campagna the Aqua Claudia is still striding strong, in places two arches high. No wonder Frontinus, curator aquarum, dubbed it magnificentissimus. All the more so when measured against the Acqua Felice (after the 16th-century Pope Pius V, otherwise known as Felice Peretti) which runs parallel to it, a chunk of Acqua Marcia tacked on to the end.
This was the aqueduct that the barbarians sought to damage if not destroy. When they attacked Rome – then as now the most fountained of cities – one of their first acts of vandalism was to cut off the water supply. Within a matter of generations Rome, caput mundi, had dwindled to little more than a village, a waterless backwater. The barbarians – with subsequent help from floods and earthquakes – knocked Rome back to pre-Republican times when the only water source was the Tiber. As the proverb says, “You only know the worth of water once the well runs dry.”
On Saturday, Pope Francis named Archbishop Henryk Hoser, S.A.C., the Bishop of Warszawa-Praga, as a Special Envoy of the Holy See to Medjugorje, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The scope of his mission, according to the press release announcing the appointment, is “to acquire a profound understanding of the pastoral situation” in Medjugorje, with special concern for the “needs of the faithful who come on pilgrimage;” and on the basis of that understanding “to suggest possible pastoral initiatives for the future.” His mission, therefore, “will have an exclusively pastoral character.”
Responding to questions from journalists, the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Greg Burke said, “The Special Envoy of the Holy See will not enter into the question of the Marian apparitions, which are the competence of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.” Archbishop Hoser’s mission, he said, “is a sign of Holy Father’s concern for the pilgrims. It’s purpose is not inquisitive, but strictly pastoral.”
Burke said, “The Special Envoy of the Holy See will be in contact with the diocesan Bishop; the Franciscans, to whom the parish of Medjugorje is entrusted; and with the faithful” of Medjugorje.
Archbishop Hoser, who will continue to exercise the office of Bishop of Warszawa-Praga, is expected to complete his mission by summer.
Did you know that there are 118 islands, 416 bridges, 177 canals and 127 squares in Venice?
14 Feb-2 April. The 2017 edition of Cinque Mostre at the American Academy in Rome features five separate exhibitions and collaborative projects by current Rome Prize Fellows from several disciplines as well as invited artists curated by Ilaria Gianni. For more information see AAR website.