Saint Nicholas is smoking incense in our kitchen!

Check out this incense smoking Saint Nicholas “nutcracker” statue.

Mari Webber, New Saint Thomas Institute Member and Sword and Serpent Launch Team member (and Our Lady of Guadalupe NSTI Pilgrim) purchased in Germany this beautiful smoking Saint Nicholas for our family. Our children love it! Thanks Mari for your generosity!

You place incense inside of him and he blows the incense smoke out of his mouth, as if he is smoking his pipe:

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and here is Mari taking an “epic selfie” with a copy of Sword and Serpent in Germany:

Epic Selfie #1

Thank you Mari for our smoking German Saint Nick!

Happy Advent to everyone!

Godspeed,

Taylor Marshall

10 Tips for Catholics Visiting Rome

I spent just over three weeks in Rome teaching Catholic seminarians through the Rome Experience, and here are 10 tips that to making the most out of your visit to Rome:

vatican gold image

1 You should visit the 4 Major Basilicas of Rome: St Peter’s (Vatican), St Paul’s outside the Walls, St Mary Major, and St John Lateran. These are the four grandest churches in Rome and each will take your breath away. My favorites are St Peter’s and St Mary Major.

2 The best part of Rome are the off-the-path churches. Saint Peter’s Basilica is amazing, but I find myself enjoying and communing with God in a special way in churches such as St Agnes in Agony off the Piazza Navona or at Sunday Mass in the St Maria Trastevere.

Santa Maria in Trastevere apse1

Santa Maria in Trastevere – Off the beaten path, but worth a visit!

3 If you’re healthy, walk everywhere. Try not to use cabs or the metro. Walking a city is the best way to know a city. If you can’t walk, go with someone who knows Rome well.

4 Bus tour. Speaking of getting to know Rome, as cheesy as it sounds, I recommend getting on one of those tourist double decker buses and riding around the city at least once. It will provide you with a global “view” of the city.

Eternal City Rome Look Inside5 Read a good book on Christian Rome before you arrive. I recommend my book The Eternal City: Rome and the Origins of Catholicism for Catholic pilgrims looking for Catholic insights into the history and theology of Rome.

6 Eat meals at scenic Italian spots. Will food cost more on the piazza of the Pantheon or on Piazza Navona? Of course! But it’s worth it. Watch people. Listen to the musicians. Watch performers. One evening, I was eating alone on the Piazza Navona and two married British couples on an anniversary trip to Rome invited me to their table and even bought me champagne. We had a great time talking about Latin. It was a fun and magical evening that I’ll never forget – and it would have never happened if I had dinner at a cheap kabob shop off the Tiber.

7 Pasta is great, but it’s not the end-all be-all in Rome. Italian food isn’t all pasta. I rarely consume pasta in Rome. I spend my meals loving the cured pork dishes, the veal, the cheese, and the vegetables. If you are into pasta, some of the best pastas are those that are lightly topped with sauces or fine oils. Quality over quantity.

8 Everyone raves about Roman gelato. But after living there for almost a month, I learned that there is gelato…and then there’s real gelato.

rome-pantheon-gelato

Just as wine comes in a variety of value, even so gelato. Through priests I met, I was introduced to interesting flavors that I would have never tried. There are an array of nut flavors that I highly recommend. Pistachio, of course, but also try Bacio (chocolate hazlenut – like Nutello!!!), Mandorla (almond), and Castagna (chessnut). And of course blend with chocolates and dark chocolate and berry flavors. I found that gelato sold at tourist centers and from moveable carts tended to be the worst in the city.

9 Prayer at holy sites. Rome is a holy city of martyrs, relics, saints, tradition, and glory. But you can get so caught up in seeing everything that you don’t talk to God. Don’t just gawk at Michelangelo’s Pieta and take photos for Instagram. No, kneel down in front of it and pray. Don’t rush from church to church. Find the tabernacle and talk to Jesus about your pilgrimage.

Sistine Chapel Vatican Museum Rome Italy

Sistine Chapel Vatican Museum Rome Italy. Leave that iPhone in your pocket. Be still and pray.

10 Live in the moment and feel Rome. Here are some examples from my own experience: Watch an Italian cat curl up under an ancient statue. Smile at a newly wed couple cuddling near a fountain. Sit in an ancient Roman church and watch a wedding of two people I’ve never met. Randomly meet seminarians on the street and invite them to lunch. Pass the peace in Italian at a local Mass.

There’s much more that I could say, but these 10 are the big ones with 1, 2, 9, and 10 as the most important.

 

9 Thoughts on Our Lady of Guadalupe

I returned from our NSTI pilgrimage to Our Lady of Guadalupe. It was a beautiful pilgrimage with beautiful people.

Here are 9 quick reflections on Our Lady of Guadalupe after having returned home to the US:

  1. More than ever, I’m convinced that Mary leads us deeply to Jesus. There are things about Jesus that we can never know without Mary. She is a microscope that “magnifies” different attributes of Jesus and His eternal message.
  2. The miraculous image of Our Lady on the tilma seems to have changed since I saw it last two years ago. This is obviously subjective perception on my part. It seemed larger and more alive and more colorful.
  3. I loved seeing my son Jude serve Mass for the first time at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe and his second time at the relics of Blessed Miguel Pro. This was a highlight for me. Here’s a pic:
    Jude serving Mass
  4. Last time at the Basilica, I promised Our Lady to bring my wife Joy with me on the next pilgrimage. It was difficult traveling Mexico with a 4 month old baby, but she did a great job and I’m really proud of her.
  5. Our group of 43 pilgrims (most from NSTI) were fantastic. Kate (one of our pilgrims) related how bringing her intentions to Guadalupe was liking carrying the roses of prayer in her own tilma like Saint Juan Diego and having Our Lady “rearrange them” to be more acceptable.
  6. The devotion of the Mexican people as they prepared for a Papal visit was inspirational. Their faith and joy are inspiring.
  7. When at San Miguel, we saw all the poor people carrying Baby Jesus dolls to the churches to be blessed. They were doing this to commemorate the “Presentation of Jesus in the Temple.” It’s a beautiful devotion that I have never known.
  8. Food in Mexico is so good. Churros. Fruit popsicles. Mexican Bernaise sauce!
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  9. We observed pilgrims walking on foot for 6 days to Mexico City to greet the Pope. 6 days! Would we spend 6 days of penance for the good of the Vicar of Christ and to welcome His Holiness in an act of hospitality?

There are 100 of other things (I’ll share more on Guadalupe in a podcast), but it was just a wholesome and beautiful pilgrimage. I hope that you’ll join us again in a year or so when we do it again.

If you want to watch a Webinar on Our Lady of Guadalupe, click here.

If you want to join me on a Pilgrimage to Rome and Italy, please reserve your spot by clicking here.

Godspeed,
Taylor Marshall

Where are the Skulls of Saints Peter and Paul?

In the video below I give a brief history and tour of one of my favorite places in Rome: the Pope’s Cathedral and Basilica of Saint John Lateran.

Although many people have forgotten, the heads of Peter and Paul are situated in the baldacchino which you can see in this video (click here to watch):

You can leave a comment by clicking here.

You’re Invited to Rome for a Pilgrimage (Pilgrim vs. Tourist)

Have you ever wanted to go to Rome, the Eternal City – not as a tourist but as a pilgrim

If so, you’re invited to our 2016 NSTI Pilgrimage to Rome, Assisi, and Siena with solid priests, reverent Masses at sacred sites, confessions, relics, basilicas, martyrs, Padre Pio, Eucharistic miracles, catacombs, and Catholic classes taught by me along the way on “Rome and the Origins of Catholicism.” This is a unique pilgrimage that combines spiritual growth, academic discovery, and lots of food, folks, and fun.

Video: What You’ll See in Rome:

Here’s a video of me explaining (with photos) of what you’ll experience on this special pilgrimage. Spots are are limited due to hotel and coach space. Watch below or click here to watch:

Please reserve your spot by clicking here.

You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Pilgrimage to Our Lady Guadalupe w Taylor Marshall

An Educational Marian Pilgrimage

We are going to see Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico and I want you to join us on this pilgrimage!

Please watch this video where I explain this unique pilgrimage and show you photos of our itinerary to the miraculous tilma, Tepeyac hill, the old basilica, new basilica, Cathedral and apparition site of St Michael:

Get the details and sign up for this Guadalupe pilgrimage by clicking here.

Our Lady of Guadalupe is the one apparition of Our Lady that is still with us. I’d like for you to join me on an educational pilgrimage to Our Lady of Guadalupe. You might be nervous about traveling to Mexico, but the New Saint Thomas Institute has teamed up with 206 Tours to provide a first class pilgrimage with experienced Catholic tour guides, Catholic priests to say Mass for us and hear confessions, Spanish translators, clean coaches, clean water, great food, and your hotel in the nicest neighborhood of Mexico City.

 

If you’ve ever wanted to see the tilma of Our Lady of Guadalupe, this is an excellent opportunity to experience it on a professional tour with academic instruction along the way. I’ll also be teaching four NSTI classes while we ride on the coaches to various shrines and churches:

  1. History and Tradition of Our Lady of Guadalupe
  2. Mary as Mediatrix
  3. How to Explain Mary to Protestants
  4. The History of Marian Doctrine and Dogma over 2,000 years

You can learn all about the pilgrimage in this video.

  • Feb 4-9, 2016
  • 20% discount for Catholic clergy
  • Discount for current active Members of NSTI (use coupon code)

Please reserve your spot by clicking here.

You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Dr. Taylor Marshall will be leading an Eternal City Pilgrimage to Rome from June 26 to July 5 2016.

Please click here to see the full itinerary: Eternal City Pilgrimage Itinerary with Taylor Marshall 

Date: June 26, 2016—July 5, 2016
Event: Eternal City Pilgrimage to Rome
Sponsor: New Saint Thomas Institute
Location: Rome, Loretto, Assisi, Montecassino, San Giovanni Rotondo
Italy
Registration: Click here to register.
More Info: Click here for more information.