Updated: Oct 11, 2022
Dies non, Latin for non day or in English day off. Every Thursday is a day off and students are encouraged to make the most of the day and get out and away from the seminary to relax and explore the city and country side.
This was our first full independent day off so a couple of other seminarians and myself decided to go to the beachside town of Nettuno and explore, grab some seafood and enjoy a swim if the weather permitted . What we didn't realize until the night before was that the church in town housed the remains of St. Maria Goretti. This added a bit more of an excitement, to the day than we had originally thought.
With an early morning start we caught the metro into Rome to the Termini station, at this station we were able to transfer and catch the train down to the coast which took about an hour.
When we arrived in Nettuno we took a short coffee break and headed to the Basilica Our Lady of Grace which is situated directly across the road from the beach. The Church is one of the most modern I have encountered in Italy and was rebuilt in 1969 primarily to house the remains of St Maria. It has an upper section which is used for most masses and it contains a lower section with the remains of St Maria under the altar in a glass casing. The pictures you will see are of a body with in a dress but the head arms and feet are all synthetic, there are only a few of her bones that remain and they are inside the body of the dress.
I will not explain the whole story of St Maria but it is ultimately a story of devotion, forgiveness and redemption. After resisting an unwanted attack on her, Maria was stabbed and left to die. She was only eleven years of age but before she died on her death bed she forgave her attacker and prayed for his repentance. The attacker served about 25 years in jail, being a juvenile himself he couldn't be sentenced to life in prison. On his release he ended up dedication his life to a monastery and asked for forgiveness from Marias mother and family. There is a photo of him with Maria's mother in the church shop talking and smiling. Maria was a very devote and holy young person, and the fact that she was able to forgive and pray for the person that harmed her and ultimately took her life is a testimony to the great love she had not only for God but of others as well.
Our Lady of Grace church, where St. Maria Goretti's relics are kept.
Top chapel in the Bassilica.
St Maria Goretti's chapel beneath the main chapel. Some churches invite you to stay a little bit longer, it may be because of the architecture, the space or certain feel in it, this was one of those churches.
The altar and relics beneath.
Nettuno foreshore parade, marina to the right, street and shops to the left and the Basilica straight ahead.
The marina, part of. Can you pick out your boat?
Lunch in Nettuno, with fellow seminarians, Andrei, Stephen, and Daniel, seafood was the theme of the day and a bit of pasta.
After lunch we walked about 4km to the next town of Anzio. This is their marina with the local fishing fleet.
Some of the breakwaters at Anzio where we went swimming. Not the same as the West Coast beaches on EP, but still pleasantly refreshing.
Along the beach in Anzio can be seen ruins of old Roman buildings not quite sure what they were used for but to live on the sea shore even if it was just for day outings would have been quite amazing.
A tunnel in the cliff wall that dates back to the roman times ( I think)
Hear is a fun fact, this guy called Nero was born in Anzio around 37AD he ascended to Emperor of Rome at age 17, and after a bit of a fire in Rome, things didn't go to well for the Christians.
Another amazingly stunning church, this one just up from the marina in Nettuno was dedicated to St John the Baptist.
The end of our day had come and it was time to make the trek back to Rome on the train, as we recalled the day and cleaned the sand out of our shoes, our thoughts started to drift to planning our next Dies Non.