The joys of being an intern at the CNS Rome bureau

CNS Rome correspondent, Carol Glatz, and Rita Fitch, our intern from Villanova University, enjoying a meal in Rome. (CNS photo by Paul Haring).

VATICAN CITY — We here at the Rome bureau have the great pleasure of working with interns from Villanova University.

Rita Fitch, a senior from Scarsdale, New York, wrote an item for our blog about her experience and we’d like to share it with you here:

“I had the unique opportunity of living in Rome, not as a tourist, but as an intern at the Catholic News Service Rome bureau, which meant I had some of the most incredible experiences I have ever had, including seeing the Apostolic Palace.

The doors of the Apostolic Palace were opened to the public for a short meet-and-greet on Nov. 20 after the hat giving ceremony for 24 newly-elected cardinals.

If you have ever visited St. Peter’s Basilica, picture going though the outdoor security check and then walking toward the Swiss Guards who stand in front of a set of large bronze doors where most people stop to take pictures. Not many people notice or think about what lies beyond those doors.

I can now tell you it is an absolutely wondrous place. After the Swiss Guards let me pass, I climbed a huge granite staircase leading beyond where my eye could take me.

Up the stairs there was room after room with sky-high ceilings and beautiful frescos; every inch of the palace was a work of art.

This “open house” night was filled with cardinals, archbishops, and pilgrims, some of whom were even dancing and singing traditional songs. I was able to wander freely and take it all in. Seeing the new cardinals up close in their vibrant red robes was overwhelming.

This was just one of the amazing experiences I encountered while working at CNS.

Two weeks before visiting the Apostolic Palace I was at St. Peter’s Square watching the general audience as Pope Benedict announced the names of who would be made a cardinal.

Every day I did something new and exciting, and my family and friends could not believe my work included:

  • Attending press conferences at the Vatican Press Office, including one on the release of a new book-length interview with the pope.
  • Seeing firsthand the canonization Mass of five new saints.
  • Going behind Vatican City walls for the unveiling of a new state-of-the-art broadcasting trailer.
  • Attending a special preview tour of a new Vatican Library exhibit.

I even happened to be in a photo in the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, from a press conference I had attended!

The Vatican Press Office is always abuzz with journalists and through this experience I was able to see all the steps involved in composing a good story: the speeches, interviews, research, and the writing of the final piece.

Every week I was able to write and see my articles published with my byline. I have learned so much about being a journalist and the workings of the Vatican. All in all my internship at CNS was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

Pope to host post-Christmas lunch for the poor

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict is taking time after Christmas to host a Vatican lunch for the poor and to visit children in a Rome hospital.

On Dec. 26, the feast of St. Stephen, people served by shelters run by the Missionaries of Charity will join the pope for lunch in the atrium of the Paul VI audience hall at the Vatican.

In addition to giving the pope the chance to personally offer a meal to the disadvantaged, the event also commemorates this year’s 100th anniversary of the birth of Blessed Mother Teresa, founder of the Missionaries of Charity, who was born in Yugoslavia in on Aug. 26, 1910. She was beatified in 2003.

The Vatican also announced that on Jan. 5, the eve of the Epiphany, the pope will visit young patients at Rome’s Gemelli Hospital. While he is there, he will bless a spina bifida center and distribute gifts to the children who receive care there. Gemelli is Rome’s biggest Catholic hospital.

The pope’s will preside over a whole slate of regular Christmas activities, too, including Christmas Eve midnight Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica and the Urbi et Orbi blessing to the city of Rome and the world on Christmas Day. On Dec. 26 he prays the Angelus and talks to pilgrims from his window above St. Peter’s Square, and on Dec. 29 he holds his regular general audience.

On New Year’s Eve at St. Peter’s, the pope will lead Vespers and the singing of the Te Deum, a traditional hymn of praise and thanksgiving for the gift of salvation in Christ. On Jan. 1, the church marks World Peace Day, and the pope’s message this year focuses on religious freedom and its contribution to peace. The pope will celebrate Mass and pray the Angelus on New Year’s Day.

To finish up the Christmas holidays, Pope Benedict will celebrate Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica Jan. 6, the feast of the Epiphany.