Here is the first post from Andrew Solkshinitz, a Holy Cross College student, who is on pilgrimage in Rome for the canonization of Blessed Brother André with the group from the Holy Cross Office of Vocations. Visit our Vocations Flickr account for more photos of the celebrations in Rome.
For the first day we found out that our rooms weren't going to be ready for another 4 hours. It was decided that we were going to get breakfast and then head up to the top of the dome on Saint Peters. The oddest thing was the walk up to the top: The walls started to slant sideways and the paths got narrower and a bit steeper. Our group made it to the top and we were blessed with a wonderful view of the city. In all directions were found spires of churches and mountains.
When we all got cleaned up at the hotel we made our way over to Sant Andrea della valle for a pre-canonization evening prayer. People came from all over the world to be a part of this historic moment for the Congregation of Holy Cross. Relics of the soon-to-be-saint were processed around the basilica for all to see. It was so nice to see so many Holy Cross religious in one place.
The pope made his way out following a long procession of cardinals and bishops. The Mass for the Canonization was a true meeting of culture, and now we can officially say: Saint Andre Bessette, pray for us! We had saints being beatified from Poland, French-speaking Canada, Australia, Italy, and Spain. The amount of foreign language that was used may have confused some of us, but the Mass transcended all language barriers. Each and everyone there knew what was going on and were joyfully waiting on our pope to consecrate the bread and the wine into Christ's Body and Blood.
After the unforgettable Mass was over, the Holy Cross religious extended an invitation to join them for the longest meal that I ever sat through: seven courses! The food just kept coming, it was wonderful! It was also a great chance for some of the guys that are considering the call to religious life to talk with some of the priests or brothers that were there. We were in very good company with two bishops, the president of Notre Dame, and the United States ambassador to the Holy See. It was a once-in-a-lifetime chance for many of us to get to meet and talk with these very busy people in a one-on-one environment. For that I am very grateful.