One of the University of Notre Dame’s greatest strengths is its alumni network. Even here in Italy, there are sons and daughters of Our Lady’s University. We had a gathering of about twenty at Villa Richardson, residence of the U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See, Dr. Miguel Díaz, and his wife, Dr. Marian Díaz, both domers.
It was my first time at the residence, and one of the most striking pieces of art on the beautiful grounds is a large Chihuly, Ducale Tower, on what was once a fountain in the back garden. There’s a short article about it in Slate, with an image.
I have been asked to help form a small leadership group for the alumni club of Italy, to strengthen the club’s activities and in a small way, start paving the road for the new Notre Dame Center of Rome, which will open in a couple of years, we hope. (The building is purchased and being renovated, in Celio not far from the Lay Centre, in fact).
Current ND alumni in Rome include not only the Ambassador and his wife, but Holy Cross priests and brothers, students at pontifical universities, a key staffer at the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, one of Rome’s leading catechetical guides, the director of the University of Mary’s Rome Program, and until recently, Charles Brown, now nuncio to Ireland.
On the way home from the gathering, a few of us were walking by the Spanish Academy, and discovered that the Tempietto di Bramante (San Pietro in Montorio) was open, illuminated, and totally empty. Built as a mausoleum for Ferdinand and Isabel, it was never used for that purpose, but remains quite possibly the smallest church in Rome.