It is a fine tradition of KAAD to organise an annual study and pilgrimage trip to Rome for its scholarship holders. This year, a group consisting of 18 KAAD scholarship holders and accompanied by the two spiritual advisors of KAAD, Fr. Prof. Dr. Ulrich Engel OP and Fr. Prof. Dr. Thomas Eggensperger OP, were in the 'Caput Mundi' from 4 to 10 September 2022. All participants were full of expectations in view of the splendour of the 'Eternal City' ('Roma Aeterna'). Many of us were travelling to Rome for the first time ever. It was a dream come true.
We explored the cultural grandeur of the ancient world (Roman Forum, Ostia Anrica), visited the most important sites of Christianity (St. Peter's Basilica and other main churches, Calixtus Catacomb, Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel and much more), walked through medieval and baroque Rome, were able to meet Pope Francis during the Wednesday audience and were impressed by the great strength of faith of so many people from all over the world. In the German Embassy to the Holy See, we learned a lot of new things about the diplomatic relations between Rome and Berlin in a conversation with the spiritual counsellor of the embassy, Msgr. Oliver Lahl.
With Cardinal Peter Turkson, we discussed colonialism, de- and re-colonisation as well as the relationship of the Catholic Church to LGBTQI+ persons at the Academy of Sciences in the middle of the Vatican Gardens. In the Curia of the Dominican Order on the Aventine, Fr. Pablo Sicouly OP gave us an insight into the worldwide academic network of the Order of Preachers. A brief encounter with the Master of the Dominican Order, Fr. Gerard F. Timoner III OP, came about quite informally. We also enjoyed wine made by Romans and Italian cuisine, swam in the sea at Lido di Ostia and enjoyed Roman nightlife at the Trevi Fountain. Church services in our group as well as with the Community of Sant' Egidio and reflection sessions rounded off the unique Rome experience.
Many of these unforgettable impressions will remain in our souls.