.- It was an Italian Thanksgiving yesterday for about a dozen United States bishops, who are in Rome this week for their Ad Limina visit. Bishops from Missouri, Kansas, Iowa and Nebraska had Thanksgiving dinner at the Pontifical North American College in Rome, where many of them studied for the priesthood.
The Ad Limina visit was filled with several important moments for the bishops. Highlights included mass at the tombs of Sts. Peter and Paul. There, they celebrated their connection, through apostolic succession, to the early Church Fathers.
Archbishop Raymond Burke of St. Louis described the mass at the Church of St. Paul Nov. 24 as emotional.
"This is an important mass," Archbishop Burke told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "It's not often that you have mass at the tombs of Sts. Peter and Paul. It's very moving, very inspiring.” The archbishop said that the bishops brought with them the intentions of their dioceses.
Archbishop Jerome Hanus of Dubuque, Iowa, gave the homily on the theme of martyrdom. He said Pope John Paul has challenged bishops “to be martyrs and witnesses to the moral law,” following the examples of bishops who have gone before them and who have been canonized.
A special intention was also said for the Catholic Church in Vietnam.
At the end of mass, the bishops spent time in prayer by the remains of St. Paul.
The bishops also celebrated mass at St. Peter's Basilica Nov. 22. They visited St. Mary Major the following day. They are expected to visit St. John Lateran today.
The four churches are considered to be the most important pilgrimage sites for Catholics in Rome.