Loyola University Chicago

John Felice Rome Center

Theo 279 Roman Catholicism: Theology of Pilgrimage

Summer 2016 - Session I

Roman Catholicism and Pilgrimage

Professor Mark Bosco, S.J.

John Felice Rome Center (JFRC):  Summer Session One 2016

Tuesdays and Thursdays:  9:00 a.m.-12:20 p.m.


Course Description: 

This course will offer an intense encounter—intellectually, artistically, and spiritually—with Christian pilgrimage throughout the centuries as a way to understand the Roman Catholic faith.  With Rome as our classroom, we will investigate the theological, historical, sociological, and literary contours of pilgrimage in order to arrive at a theological understanding of Roman Catholicism.  For your benefit, there will be times during the week/weekends when you will be invited to join in excursions to Assisi (Francis and his spiritual legacy) and Orvieto (where the feast of Corpus Christi was inaugurated in the Church) to complement the course.



  • The Autobiography of St. Ignatius Loyola (Fordham University Press)
  • The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene (Penguin)
  • PDF files on Black Board from chapters/selections in such books as:
    • Pilgrimage:  A Spiritual and Culture Journey by Ian Bradley
    • Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan
    • The Age of Pilgrimage:  the Medieval Journey to God by Jonathan Sumption


Course Format:

Three in-class lectures/presentations at a JFRC classroom.

All other classes are on-site to pilgrim Churches, catacombs, etc.

NOTE:  We will be going to one museum which will be an extra cost for admission and two “scavi” (excavations) that has a nominal charge.  Please expect to pay about 50 euros for these entrance fees.  We will be using public transportation so make sure to buy plenty of bus/subway cards.

Major Course Assignment: 

  • A response/reflection paper each week concerning the sites visited that week.
  • A comprehensive test on the novel The Power and the Glory.
  • A travelogue to a pilgrimage site made on your own during your time in Italy.
  • A take-home exam to be emailed to me as a WORD document at the end of the term.

Course Expectations:

  • Never miss a class.  Never.  I mean it.
  • Always be on time, especially for on-site classes.  I wait for no one.
  • Be courteous to one another and respectful of the places we visit.
  • Develop a discriminating palate for Italian gelato.


Course Calendar:

Week I:

Monday:  In-class lecture at JFRC:  Introduction to Roman Catholicism and the historical development of pilgrimage as a “Catholic” performance of the faith.

Wednesday:  Foundations:  The churches during persecution (Santi Giovanni e Paulo, San Clemente, the Prison Mamertino, walk by of the Colisseo and Forum)

Week II:

Monday:  7 Pilgrim Churches of Rome (San Paolo, Santa Croce, San Giovanni Laterano, Maria Maggiore, Santa Pressede)

Wednesday:  7 Pilgrim Churches of Rome, continued (San Lorenzo, San Sebastiano, and trip to Sant’ Agnese and the Catacombs underneath)


Week III:

Monday:  St. Peter’s and the Vatican City

Wednesday:  In-class lecture at JFRC:  The Autobiographical Turn:  Ignatius of Loyola


Week IV:

Monday:   On site for a Jesuit Pilgrimage (San Andrea, Gregorianum, San Ignazio)

Wednesday: On site at the Rooms of St. Ignatius (and optional) Class Mass at Il Gesu


Week V:

Monday:  Test and in-class lecture/discussion at JFRC:  The Literary Turn:  The Power and the Glory

Wednesday:   The Postmodern pilgrim:  The Galleria Borghese