On my first day of this visit to Rome I completed a small personal pilgrimage.
When I arrived in the Eternal City earlier this year I visited the churches associated with my brother’s patron saints to pray for recovery of his health – his name is John Ignatius, so I visited the Lateran Basilica of St John, which is the Cathedral Church of Rome; the tomb of St Ignatius, the founder of the Jesuits, in the Church of Gesu; and for good measure, the nearby Church of St Ignatius.
As I said some weeks later in my homily at his funeral, “While our prayers for John did not yield the outcome for which we hoped, they provided several months of quality living, during which time of grace outstanding matters could be settled, and we could prepare ourselves for this moment of separation. Moreover, had our hopes been met, had John been restored to health, it would have been precisely that, a restoration to this life, a temporary respite, still subject to the law of death; but God has given much more, God has given eternal life.”
I also tried to make it clear that it was the tumour, not God, that took John’s life. God does not inflict death. God is life. God is the author of all life. God does not take life. God gives life. When the tumour had inflicted ravages that made John’s life unsustainable, God provided salvation. God gave the gift of eternal life.
So now on this subsequent visit to Rome, I again visited those same churches associated with my brother’s patron saints, this time to give thanks for his life, for the good life that he lived as a loyal son, a kind brother, a loving husband, father and grandfather and a good neighbour and friend to many, as testified by the great gathering of family, relatives, friends and neighbours from near and far who attended his funeral.
St John’s Lateran Basilica
The nave of St John’s Lateran Basilica is flanked by 12 statues of the Apostles. Here is the Statue of St John the Apostle.
It is where St Ignatius is buried.
At both of these churches, I lit candles for my brother, John Ignatius; that his spirit may now be rejoicing in God’s presence; that he may now know God face-to-face and so be filled with God’s light and love; that from his place in heaven he may continue to watch over his family; that the gifts he shared so generously during his life may continue to bear fruit in our lives.
And for good measure, I also visited the Church of St Ignatius.
May he rest in Peace. Amen.