DAVID CITY (SNR/AHS) – Valeria Whitmore, a student at Aquinas High School in David City, completed a two-week seminar in Rome through the University of Notre Dame in June for college credit, just before her senior year of high school.
More than 60 high school juniors applied for this program and only 16, including Whitmore, were accepted. This program focused on the history, culture, and architecture of Rome. Whitmore visited many of Italy’s cultural and architectural treasures and attended lectures at the Faculty of the Notre Dame Rome Global Gateway.
“The program went beyond my expectations,” she said. The group walked to historical landmarks they learned about each day, such as the Pantheon, Roman Forum, Colosseum, or the Vatican. They also attended lectures on Italian language and history at the Notre Dame Global Gateway.
Whitmore was able to attend daily Mass at St. John Lateran and attend the Liturgy of the Hours at a local monastery.
Even though this experience was an educational program, Whitmore said it deeply helped her spiritual life. She said her favorite place to visit was the Vatican to see the famous artwork and pray in St. Peter’s Basilica. She was also able to see Pope Francis during a Wednesday audience.
Whitmore viewed different relics: a part of the pillar where Jesus was scourged, wood from the manger of the infant Jesus, the steps on which Jesus was judged by Pontius Pilate and more.
“All these relics gave me a renewed faith and helped me to see how universal the Catholic Church is,” Whitmore said. “These relics helped me realize that Jesus was human and lived as a human to save us.”
Whitmore also expressed gratitude for all who helped make this learning opportunity possible. Aquinas teachers Mrs. Bobbi Schmid and Mr. Tony Smith helped Whitmore through the application process.
“I would also like to thank the Notre Dame Pre-College Program faculty and staff for organizing, teaching and making this program possible and available to students,” she said.