I arrived on a sunny Monday morning to the Vatican Museums, a bit later in the summer than the other interns due to another commitment immediately following school, and met one of the other interns at the Exit door, the Patrons entrance, to be brought up to the office. After meeting Carolina, Sara, Maddie, Chiara and Romina, I was given a brief introduction, lasting maybe half an hour, and then told to go meet the Belgian Patrons. Here, the whirlwind that has been this internship began, and one mind blowing experience has followed another— private tour of the Sistine Chapel, dinner in the Greek and Roman section, walk through the Vatican gardens, exploration of a Roman gravesite, back room passages between St. Peter’s and the Patrons office, crossing paths with the Pope within the walls of Vatican city. All of this while meeting Swiss guards, priests, dignitaries, tourists, and Patrons from all over the globe, who each bring their own opinions, outlooks, and origins to share in this hub of Catholicism.
When applying through a connection within the University of Notre Dame, where I will be a junior this year, I hoped that this internship would blend my religious role as a faithful Catholic with my academic role, as a Classics major. This has happened time and again during my time here in Rome. Walk down a street of Rome, and you can not help but come across the SPQR of the Roman Empire next to the keys of St. Peter, a Roman temple next to a Catholic basilica, and the ruins of a villa next to a Christian graveyard. The greatest experiences, though, are in the details. I have marveled at the great monuments: I’ve been to all four Papal basilicas, seen numerous relics incuding fragments of the true cross, visited the tombs of the saints, and been wowed by countless sculptures, paintings and frescos depicting scenes of our faith. However, it is the things off the beaten path that I’ve really enjoyed, seeing the more humble side of the history of our faith. Finding a little one room church in Rome, with a simple altar and cross as the only decoration, or getting lost and coming across a shrine to Mary— two religious sites that receive hardly any visitors, but show their own piety, devotion, and simple approach to receiving the mercy of God.
This summer, I have worked as the social media consultant for the Patrons, posting to Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter while attempting to reach out to the next generation of Vatican Patrons of the Arts. This has sometimes been a challenge, as our office is only beginning to find our social media identity, seeking to reach out to people at a more human to human level, while also maintaining our status as representatives for the Catholic church. I have enjoyed this work and grown tremendously in the process, and I now know more about what kind of work I want to pursue in the future. I will now return to the States for several weeks, but I will then return to Rome, where I will be studying abroad for the fall semester. I will return prepared to live in a city I’ve grown to love, having learned the city and its ins and outs from the Patrons of the Arts.