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Notre Rome

Jackie Mirandola-Mullen | Monday, February 16, 2009

I visited a friend in Rome this past weekend. To clarify, I am studying abroad in Innsbruck this year, so it wasn’t a Chicago-Rome weekend connection or anything. But as we toured the beautiful city, I was astonished by what struck me the most.

They are copying us.

It was like walking through an Italian Notre Dame. First, my friend Kyle showed me the stadium (top priority, just like at Notre Dame). We didn’t manage to get tickets for anything, but we figured it would still be nice to see. But as I stared up at the huge brick, mortar and stone that uninterruptedly encapsulated the arena within, I was reminded peculiarly of Notre Dame Stadium. No touchdown Jesus staring from behind the – wait, actually, no goal posts either. To think, a stadium with no football!

As we toured it, though, I did feel a little consolation in learning that it only holds 50,000 people, paling in comparison to Notre Dame’s circa 80,000. And you should see the upkeep here! Field rotted through, bleachers completely gone, I don’t know how people can stand it. Or stand on it, for that matter.

Next, Kyle took us to the hill. Admittedly, we do not have one of those in South Bend. But on top of it was this huge complex with a gym and track and pool and living quarters – all in the same building! At Notre Dame we at least spread that out, separate residential from recreational. We don’t have palm trees, but one thing ostensibly missing from Rome? Ducks. Not that they are related to palm trees, but I’m just saying, we have ducks.

After that, Kyle took us to the “Forum.” Not to rub it in, Rome, but we have one of those, too …

From the pedestrian-only (sound familiar?) Forum, we headed to the Vatican. This was actually the next day, after having had enough of Rome’s unoriginality and needing an overnight break. It had nothing to do with being tired or needing sleep. Of course not; not in the eternal city.

I entered hopefully: Maybe the Roman Catholic Church could do better within the borders of its self-regulated nation. The first thing I notice? Priests. Everywhere. And nuns. I didn’t have to think too hard to remember where I’ve seen that before.

Walking through the doors, I was, as most people who have visited can also attest to, instantly met with a sense of awe by the grandeur and sheer size of St. Peter’s Basilica.

And even this did not last. This was getting tiring. As we walked in further, I saw, above the altar, an enormous dome with – get this – blue and gold painted the whole way around! Oh, the humanity! They took the main ideas from our two most treasured buildings and combined them into one!

I was confused. How could Rome be that unoriginal? Do they not realize that these are our traditions? How embarrassing! Maybe sometime the Romans will make it to Notre Dame and see how widespread our culture is, to reach them in Rome all the way from northern Indiana. I hope that they’re proud of it. Two thousand years of rigid tradition is great, if you know for sure that’s what you want.

Jackie Mirandola Mullen is a junior History and German major, who is currently studying in Innsbruck, Austria. Her favorite part of Italy was the 2,000 year-old Forum toilets at Pompeii. She can be reached at jmirando@nd.edu

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.