Salisbury Press

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PRESS PHOTOS BY MARGARET FLECKFreelance reporter Margaret Fleck stands in front of a very tall statue of St. Paul. PRESS PHOTOS BY MARGARET FLECKFreelance reporter Margaret Fleck stands in front of a very tall statue of St. Paul.
Members of the Allentown Central Catholic High School group are able to see the Pope from less than 10 feet away. Members of the Allentown Central Catholic High School group are able to see the Pope from less than 10 feet away.
CONTRIBUTED PHOTO The entire group of 54 students, family members and chaperones stand in front of St. Mary Major. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO The entire group of 54 students, family members and chaperones stand in front of St. Mary Major.
A group of rising junior and senior girls jump for a fun picture on a beach at the town of Sorrento. A group of rising junior and senior girls jump for a fun picture on a beach at the town of Sorrento.

Students travel to Italy

Thursday, July 21, 2016 by MARGARET FLECK Special to The Press in Local News

From June 15 to 23, 54 Allentown Central Catholic High School students, family members and chaperones traveled to Italy on a sightseeing and pilgrimage trip.

The group had a chance to learn through expertly guided tours and individual time to explore. Most of the time was spent in the city of Rome where the group stayed.

Several famous Roman landmarks, including the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain, the Colosseum and the Roman Forum, were visited.

The Vatican – the Pope’s city within a city was a highlight of the trip as the group observed the art and architecture. Most impressive was the Sistine Chapel, painted by Michelangelo.

Outside of Rome, the group traveled to Assisi, Sorrento and the ruins of Pompeii. Assisi, home of the Saints Francis and Clare, retains the feel of a medieval village; Sorrento overflows with lemons and brightly colored buildings; Pompeii’s amazingly preserved ruins make it seem as if Roman citizens walked the streets only a couple hundred years ago, not a couple thousand. Each city was unique and everywhere the group went the food was incredible, especially the Italian ice cream, or ‘gelato.’

Along with the excitement of visiting popular tourist spots, the trip’s spiritual side was awe-inspiring. The group had the opportunity to visit countless cathedrals, churches, tombs and even catacombs. Seeing relics from the manger of the baby Jesus, as well as Michelangelo’s Pieta, were personal highlights.

On the last day, the group waited in St. Peter’s Square with thousands of others for the weekly audience with Pope Francis. With the assistance of ACCHS’s Chaplain, Father Hoffa, combined with arriving hours in advance, the group claimed seats to see the Pope from less than 10 feet away.

Although many of the students had been on smaller “shrine hops” AACHS holds during the school year, they said nothing could compare to this incredible experience.