It was 4th grade when my fascination with Italy took hold. A country that resembles a boot? Get out! Well here we are on what I would describe as the shin of Italy - the western coastline - Roma! It's beautiful here! And what Shawn and I lack in knowledge of renaissance European history and art - we make up for in our appreciation of the history, the loyalty, the devotion of what our ancestors endured in their steadfast allegiance to their beliefs, to their religion. Shawn totally dug the architecture - and had immense awe for the bricklayers and other slave laborers. We wept on the square of St. Peter's today - as we considered those who went before us and those who were following after. We said a prayer for you - and many a lighted candle flickers in Roma for you tonight! Geez, did we see the churches today! Raphael's tomb, Piazzo de Popola, Piazzo Navona, and the magnifique Pantheon! We shed another tear on the tomb of St. Catherine of Siena - as we reflected on our blessing, Kate, - and I remembered 7th grade All Saints Day when Kate pronounced her patron saint and it was my job to figure out a costume (pre-Google). It's safe to say we conquered it! And as a shout-out to my work walking buddies - 23,332 steps today! We did our usual vacation Mass - the kids know about this - in before the Gospel and out after Communion - and saw so many beautiful churches and works of art all day long. The Holy Father was on summer break but we received his blessing via jumbo-tron, which is legit, according to the young seminarian from Massachusetts, Jack Schrader, who vowed to pray for our 8 children and my parents. The Romans, by and large, are happy, helpful, and proud. We also bonded with two couples from Seattle - Mike and Cheryl and newly weds Victoria and Brian. We enjoyed our dinner so much with you and the great Maximus! Here's to step-parenting (and Chianti)! Tomorrow: Vatican City and then onto Siena. Ciao!