Our Journey

To Italy and back in under 90 seconds

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Trinna Leong captures the Religio staff’s most memorable experiences from day 1 at the baggage claim in Rome’s airport to the farewell dinner on our last night, in a short, but poignant, video.

Photos from Day 10: Bari, The Final Frontier


Day 10, our last in Italy, saw the Religio staff take in the sights in Bari. After a walking tour of the city, we ended at the Bari Cathedral, where we marveled at the relics of Saint Nicholas.

Reflections, Special Edition: Religio’s Favorite Moments


After 10 exciting, hectic, adventurous, contemplative, exhausting and life-changing days traveling and reporting in Italy, the staff of Religio reflects on some of the standout memories that meant the most to each of them.

Photos from Day 9: From Saints to San Michele

By Bogdan Mohora

Day 9 started off in San Giovanni Rotondo but ended rather wistfully in San Michele. Religio staffers went on a guided tour of the shrine of Padre Pio and spent the day interviewing pilgrims and local residents. We then arrived in San Michele for a visit to the Sanctuary of Saint Michael, a shrine dedicated to the Archangel.

Padre Pio’s Pupils: the Eyes of a Saint

Portrait of Padre Pio

Padre Pio’s piercing gaze piqued many a Religio staffer’s interest. Nathan Vickers photographed the various manifestations of Pio’s pupils throughout San Giovanni Rotondo.

Street art in the capital of Campania

Vespas parked in front of a mural on the wall of a shuttered shop. | Photo by Trinna Leong

A stark contrast to Rome, Napoli — as the Italians call it — is littered with garbage and graffiti. Though trash and pickpockets are everywhere, the city’s complicated history has created a unique façade for travelers to visit. Here is a collection of various photographs of graffiti in Naples, culled from the Religio staff.

Dawn in The Sacred City

St. Peter's Basilica

An early morning run took Nathan Vickers by some of Rome’s historic landmarks. Camera in hand, he documented the city as the sun came up.

Licking the Colosseum

Mismatched socks | Photo by Nathan Vickers

Nathan Vickers ponders the meaning behind his licking of the Colosseum…

A place to pray

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Bogdan Mohora profiles Bahar Dik, a Turkish Muslim student currently studying in Rome and finds out the meaning of acceptance through religious difference.

My application to seminary school


After an eye-opening tour of Pontifical North American College, a seminarian school in Rome, Neha Prakash decided to join the priesthood —in whatever capacity they may take her.

Speechless in San Giovanni

Holy water and miracle oil — some of the many Pio-related souvenirs for sale in San Giovanni Rotondo. | Photo by Andrea Palatnik.

Brandon Gates on Padre Pio’s legacy of faith and the good he helped inspire.

An unlikely home for Santa Claus: March 18, 2012

Saint Michelle at dusk.

Our last day in Italy saw the class leave the romantic vales of San Michele to head to Bari, our final destination. We went on a walking tour of the city, culminating in a visit to the Bari Cathedral, resting place of St. Nicholas’ remains.

The Terrible (or Terrific) Trio

The terrible trio. | Photo by Anam Siddiq.

Teresa Mahoney spent most of our tour of Italy getting left behind with two other mischievous companions…

From Padre Pio’s Disneyland to Saint Michael’s Cave: March 17, 2012

Image of St Michael inside the shrine built to remember his apparition at San Michelle. | Photo by Andrea Palatnik.

Andrea Palatnik reflects on a disparate serving of Saints: from Pioland to Saint Michael’s ancient caves, there was much to take in for Religio… namely, the local delicacies and the occasional snippet of information about relics.

A house for the suffering: March 16, 2012

The chapel is said to have been strategically located in the center of the Casa Sollievo Della Sofferenza Hospital. | Photo by Hoda Emam.

A visit to the hospital founded by Saint Pio of Pietrelcina, raised the central question: are science and miracles mutually exclusive?

It’s all about the journey

Neha Tara Mehta enjoying the bus ride to San Giovanni. | Photo by Nathan Vickers

Hoda Emam asked several members of the Religio gang how they first heard the news of their acceptance to Columbia’s Journalism School. This was sparked by the discovery that the class teaching assistant, Francesca Trianni, had been admitted to the Journalism School while on the road to San Giovanni Rotondo.

Photos from Day 8: A place for faith and healing

padre pio

Day 8 saw Religio ease in, somewhat wearily, to our San Giovanni Rotondo surroundings. We went on a tour of Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza hospital, and walked around town, discovering the varying shapes and sizes Padre Pio comes in, porcelain or bronze…

Staying Sane

Naples | Photo by Aby Sam Thomas

Some members of the Religio team were decidedly creeped out by Naples at night.

Photos from Day 7: The crafts of Naples

Intertwined street art in Naples

A collection of photos from Day 7, spent wandering the streets of Naples. From the Church of Santa Maria del Purgatorio Ad Arco, to Berlusconi figurines, Religio took it all in, cameras in tow.

“In Napoli, where love is king…”: March 15, 2012


It really was AMORE for the gang, as we spent the day gallivanting through Naples with our trusty guide and history buff, Angelo. From convents to a Neapolitan pizzas, the team covered all of this “city within a city.”

A home among the gypsies

Bogdan Mohora navigates the streets of Rome on our road trip to Ardea to meet a gypsy family. | Photo by Neha Prakash

Neha Prakash recounts how her preconceived notions of gypsies were completely overturned once she entered a gypsy camp and was welcomed with open arms.

Photos from Day 6: From the Pope to the mosque

Pope Benedict

Day 6 saw a temporary leave from contemplating the Catholic Church, after a morning with the Pope that is. We headed to the Islamic Cultural Center of Rome, informally referred to as The Mosque of Rome, for a tour of the breathtaking Mosque. The class took advantage of an unexpected free hour to take in some sights, namely the Piazza di Spagna.

Up close and personal with the Pope: March 14, 2012

Moschea di Roma

From Papal shoutouts to sauntering the streets of Rome, day 6 proved to be one of the best so far.

A judgment on “The Last Judgment”

Sistine Chapel

Aby Thomas waxes art historical on the Sistine Chapel.