In short, this was an unforgettable trip. To the Board of Directors for their great support, to families who participated in fundraisers throughout the year to make the trip more affordable, and to my wife Allison for retrieving important documents and generally being a steady force in planning, I give thanks. It doesn’t seem like enough in light of the trip’s magnitude. But you all are appreciated more than you could possibly know.
Some of you may ask, “why did we go on this trip”? After all, it was expensive. It was also something CHA had never done before. So, why? There are several reasons we visited Rome and plan to return in 2021 with our current freshmen and sophomores. First, Rome is the center of Western Christianity. Whether Roman Catholic, Protestant, or Evangelical, we have our roots in Rome. Our tour included more churches than I can count. I will say more about them below. Without doubt, visiting, praying in, and tracing the biblical story in art, was a spiritual experience. Spending time before the tombs of Peter and Paul, as well as the chains which held them in prison, was incredibly moving. Crawling up the Holy Steps which Constantine’s mother, S. Helena, brought to Rome from Jerusalem, all while staring at an inscription above which quoted Isaiah “He was wounded for our transgressions...” pierced to the very heart. Countless other things could be recounted. Suffice it to say someone called it something of a pilgrimage. I don’t think that person was wrong.
Our academy is also classical. As such we draw on the wisdom and history of ancient Greece and Rome in many respects. The time spent at the Roman Forum, Colosseum, the gate of Constantine, as well as the Pantheon, afforded us the opportunity to witness the ruins of a civilization to which our culture is indebted. Aside from grand ideals enshrined in our society, like democracy and freedom, our greatest architecture is a testament to Greco-Roman greatness. We also stood in the spot where Charlemagne was crowned emperor. Seeing the birthplace, or at the least place where many important ideas and philosophies were nurtured, served to make concrete much of what has been learned in the student’s time at Christiana.
There is art everywhere in Rome. We saw the anguish of Michaelangelo’s La Pieta, Bernini’s Ecstasy of St. Teresa, the Trevi Fountain, obelisk’s imported from Egypt, and so much more. One of the books which floats around Christiana is called Awakening Wonder. I’m quite confident that student and parent alike experienced this phenomenon. Being in Rome, surrounded by beauty, the soul’s yearning for the source of that beauty was indeed awakened. Perhaps, the words of one of our seniors best summarized this. Julia Lohrmann said, “Why can’t they make churches like this in America”? I have several theories. Whether they are correct or not, the question’s foundation is accurate. There are few places to go in the world where the art and architecture is so moving-and they are not in the United States.
Beyond all this, trips like this are the kind that can cement friendships for a lifetime. It is certainly my hope that the week spent together at places like the Sistine Chapel, Piazza Navona, the Catacombs, and, of course, in all of the authentic Italian restaurants talking over great food, is something all of our students will remember fondly for a lifetime.
--Bill Jenkins, Headmaster