1 April 2008

Rome through the eyes of the Bishop's great-nephew

On a beautiful morning in May, two figures stood on the ancient stones of the Appian Way. One was a Bishop, easily recognisable, and the other was a young boy of nine, the Bishop's great-nephew.

So begins a book that my father gave to my mother on her 22nd birthday and which she brought for my son to read before we all go to Rome together in a few weeks time.

The Bishop in question was the American, Fulton John Sheen who combined his Bishop's duties in the 1950's with a career as a broadcaster on radio and TV, and a prolific writer. On the visit to Rome he was accompanied not only by his great-nephew Jerome but by the English journalist and travel writer, H.V.Morton and the Canadian photographer Yousuf Karsh, known for his portraits of celebrities and royalty of the era, including Winston Churchill.

What young Jerome thought of it all we cannot say. Would he have secretly rather have stayed at home to play with his friends and did he feel a little lonely in the company of three old men? Or was he impressed by the weight of the occasion and feel special at having been chosen to accompany his great-uncle on what would have truly been, in the 1950s, a trip of a lifetime for a young American boy. I'd love to hear his side of the story - are you out there Jerome?

As you would expect from such a formidable trio, the resulting book of essays and photographs is a beautiful guide for the pilgrim to Rome. Together Jerome, impeccably dressed in jacket and tie and the Bishop in his clerical best, visit Rome's great religious and historic sights.

Read more of this article on my new travel blog at Heatheronhertravels.com

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1 comment:

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