Today I am finishing up my study of documents related to women’s ordination and female saints who lived between 375 CE when the Apostolic Constitutions laid out guidelines for women deacons and 425 CE when the Council of Orange forbade ordaining women to the diaconate. These past two weeks in the Vatican Library and Secret Archives have been an honor and privilege beyond my wildest imagining. I am grateful to my friends working with St. Mary’s College “Walking in the Footsteps of the Early Christians,” Fr. David Gentry-Akin, Dr. Robert White and Heather Walker, Fr. Thomas Thompson and Fr. Johann Roten at the Mariological Society of America and Dr. Margaret McGuiness at the American Catholic Historical Association for making this research trip possible. I also want to thank my supervisor Benita McLarin and my counterpart Rev. John Onuoha at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center who support my studies for the renewal of chaplain certification with the National Association of Catholic Chaplains.
In my last few days in Italy I will visit the basilicas and catacombs of San Gennaro, San Severo, San Gaudioso and Santa Maria della Sanità in Naples; and several basilicas in Rome as well as Chiesa del Gesù, the mother church of the Society of Jesus, where Fr. Kevin Ballard, SJ suggested I see Giuseppe Valerinao’s painting of the Visitation by the Virgin Mary. There I will say prayers for all my Jesuit friends and colleagues. I have already visited the basilicas of Santa Maria Maggiore, San Giovanni in Laterano, San Lorenzo and San Paolo Fuori le Mura, San Clemente, Santa Prassede, Santa Maria and Santa Cecilia in Trastevere and Santa Maria del Popolo. I will end my trip with a visit to Saint Catherine’s tomb at Santa Maria Sopra Minerva and Transito di Santa Caterina da Siena in Piazza Santa Chiara, the room where St Catherine of Siena died of massive stroke in 1380 that is now a devotional chapel. I will post photos and brief descriptions of these visits on Facebook. You can find me there under the username donnamariamoses. Arrivederci, Roma!