Arrivederci, Italia.

As my time in Italy is down to 12 hours, you can imagine all the reflecting going on. I realized I haven’t thanked my fellow Bernardi siblings enough for all they have done for me these past four months. This one’s for you:

Mi fretelli e sorelle,

I have been incredibly touched hearing you share all of your graces, memories and affirmations of one another. I have truly grown to love each and everyone of you as family members, for better and for worse, and I am beyond grateful for having shared this experience with you. As I briefly mentioned before, last semester was a rough one for me–I doubted a lot of things, including what I believe as a Christian or just in general, and coming to Rome I only thought and cared about what I could get from the semester, all the Lord would do for me and my life and how I would grow. But it took 33 of my closest friends to draw me outside of myself and look at all the Lord was doing for me and through me thanks to all of you. I never understood the concept of love within a marriage. You mean you have to choose to love someone even when you don’t feel it? How is that even possible? You have all shown me and taught me what love truly is and what it means.

Every time you asked me about fashion. Every time you gave me chocolate. Every time you asked me to sew something. Every time I tried to pay for something or pay you back and you responded “Don’t worry about it.” Every time you invited me to a meal. Every time you touched my spiky hair. Every time you complimented me on my combination of neon pink jacket and red pants. Every time you left an affirmation in my mailbox. Every time you cleared my dishes or got me coffee. Every time you thanked me for the tickets. Every time you laughed at my less-than-perfect jokes. Every time you indulged me in late night cookie and milk breaks. The list could go on and on. But every time you loved me, you taught me how to love better, and proved that I am loved.

Thank you for being so patient, loving, caring and accepting of my blunt, unabashed, stubborn and very sarcastic self. The time you took to get to know me, hear my many thoughts and opinions, but more importantly share your own, meant more to me than you will ever know. Thank you for putting up with my 100 “Kid Snippets” quotes and references every day. Thank you for showing me Christ through your selfless, fun, caring and generous acts. Know I pray for you all each day, that you will continue to grow ever closer to Our Lord and Our Lady, and that one day we will be reunited in Heaven. You are now family and will be treated as such. Therefore, when I need money, am in jail, need you to vote for me or give me a job, be prepared to get a phone call ūüėČ

Tonight I went to Mass and realized it would be my last in Italy. I prayed to God to come up with some reason I would have to stay in Italy, or to give me a job so I can come back and live here. I am positive a huge part of the reason I love it here is because I associate Italy with my Bernardi family. Grazie mille a tutti.

I love you all, and am eternally grateful and indebted to God for the second best gift a girl could ask for. (Clearly the first being His Son).

Ciao, but only for now.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Happy Mother’s Day! I am not able to be with my mom today, but we had a May Crowning for the Blessed Mother and showered our “House Mother” with love and flowers today. In a similar vein, today was the March for Life in Rome. It traveled from the Collosseum to St. Peter’s. At St. Peter’s today, 802 new saints were canonized! Aww yeah. I know that sounds like a lot, but 799 of them were companions to the Italian¬†Antonio Primaldo. Also canonized was Columbian¬†Laura di Santa Caterina da Siena Montoya y Upegui (1874-1949), foundress of the Congregation of the Missionaries of Mary Immaculate and Mexican¬†Maria Guadalupe Garcia Zavala, co-foundress of the Congregation of the Handmaids of St Margaret Mary (Alacoque) and the Poor.


Happy Mother’s Day, Mama Mary!


Top: Kohls, Necklace: Gift, Skirt: Piperlime, Heels: Nordstroms


Our Chaplain Fr. Justin coined the Ascension as “The Inauguration of Heaven.” Now, thanks to the Ascension, 802 of our brothers and sisters are now seeing the face of Our Lord for all of eternity! Stick that in your pipe…

Sts. Antonio Primaldo and companions, Laura di S. Caterina da Siena, and Maria Guadalupe Garcia Zavala, pray for us!

If you’re visiting from the WIW link-up, welcome, and stop by soon! ūüôā

7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 7)

Happy Friday to you all! I am just so spoiled, we had both Wednesday and Thursday off of classes due to the Italian Labor day and the fact that my professor’s wife just had a baby! Woo! Elizabeth Irene. What a precious gem. We always have Fridays off so we get a 5 day weekend this week. “When in Rome” I guess…

1. Today we took a group trip to Capri. I was just there two weeks ago, but it is so stunning I didn’t mind. Today was 80+ and sunny, just perfect. It is very touristy, especially for Americans–so we were able to converse with a lot of people. Also, the area of Capri and the Amalfi Coast are known for their lemons and Limoncello alcohol. I really don’t care for the alcohol, but today we tried it in a frozen slushy form-that was awesome!


This is the “Blue Grotto.” The water is totally illuminated and colored by the sun.


We took a boat tour around the island and that little archway is called the “Kissing Cave.” Newlyweds traditionally go there and kiss for good luck on a long marriage.


This was the view from above from Anacapri to Capri. The land form to the left and in the background is the mainland of Italy.


We took a chair lift to the top of a mountain and this was the view.

2. Have you heard of the website “Encouraged“? I just came across it, and it’s kind of like an online magazine with just a bunch of really great articles on the life of a woman. It still surprises me that so many initiatives are either being formed or are continuing to be sustained in order to build women up and affirm their¬†femininity¬†and holiness. What a gift!

3. My friends and I are obsessed with these series of YouTube videos: Kids Snippets. You’ve got to check them out. Here is Drivers Ed, but Basketball Class and Math Class are also hilarious:

4. Did you see the “modesty” guidelines ABC sent out for the Grammy’s? What do you think?

CBS Program Practices advises that all talent appearing on camera please adhere to Network policy concerning wardrobe.

Please be sure that buttocks and female breasts are adequately covered. Thong¬†type costumes are problematic. Please avoid exposing bare fleshy under curves¬†of the buttocks and buttock crack. Bare sides or under curvature of the breasts¬†is also problematic. Please avoid sheer see-through clothing that could¬† possibly expose female breast nipples. Please be sure the genital region is¬†adequately covered so that there is no visible ‚Äúpuffy‚ÄĚ bare skin exposure.¬†Please avoid commercial identification of actual brand name products on¬†T-shirts. Foreign language on wardrobe will need to be cleared. OBSCENITY OR¬†PARTIALLY SEEN OBSCENITY ON WARDROBE IS UNACCEPTABLE FOR BROADCAST. This as¬†well, pertains to audience members that appear on camera.¬†Finally, The Network requests that any organized cause visibly spelled out on¬†talent‚Äôs wardrobe be avoided. This would include lapel pins or any other form of¬†accessory.

5. Today was my deadline for an article about “May the Month of Our Mother” ¬†for the local newsletter “Heart of the Matter.” I’ll keep you posted when it is published but until then, check out the other articles in Heart of the Matter, including a couple by my brother, and consider contributing!

6. Monday was the feast of St. Catherine of Siena. Her head is in Siena but the rest of her remains are in Rome. It was so wonderful to spend some time praying with her at her tomb on the anniversary of her birth into eternal life. I was also happy to see so many people visiting St. Catherine’s tomb. I also happened to be there at the perfect time to go to Mass in English. That was just an extra special gift.

7. Have you seen the movie “Pitch Perfect?” I don’t really like most of it, but my favorite part is the “rap battle” half way through. I think the main character has a really beautiful voice, so for fun my friend and I made a cover for my brother who I miss of a song in the movie. Enjoy!

*If you are visiting from the Conversion Diary link-up, welcome and stop by often!*

What I Wore: Sunday

‚ôę”It’s a great day to be alive, I know the sun’s still shining when I close my eyes, hard times in the neighborhood, but why can’t everyday be just this good?”‚ôę

There are no complaints here on a gorgeous Sunday morning in Roma. This morning we made our way over to Mass at the most beautiful Church here, (besides St. Peter’s of course) St. Joachim. It’s also fun because there are always the most religious sisters in one place besides St. Peter’s as well. I love the super simple songs they sing in Italian–I know almost every word in each song!

This is what I wore for such a gorgeous spring day:


Top: JCPenney, Necklace: Borrowed, Skirt: Gifted, Shoes: Borrowed
IMG_5635 IMG_5642


This is my fabulous photographer, roomie and friend!

Also, today is my dear nephew, Henry’s First Holy Communion! He participated in the Sacrament of Penance for the first time about a month ago, turned 7 a week ago and today is the day he will receive Our Lord! What a gift. If you¬†wouldn’t¬†mind say a prayer for him today!

“O Blessed Imelda, whose faith was so firm and so ardent that in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament thou were rapt in ecstasy. ¬†We implore thee to obtain for us so lively a faith that it will transform our lives entirely. Especially now, as Henry is about to receive his First Holy Communion, may he believe firmly that our Lord and Master Jesus Christ is here present in the Most Blessed Sacrament. We offer up to Jesus thy pure and faithful heart in place of our inconstant and cold hearts. For thy sake may He hear our prayers and come soon to take possession of our souls. Amen.”

Boy's First Communion Pocket Prayer Card

*If you are visiting from the WIW link-up, welcome, and stop by soon!*

7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 6)

Happy Friday! We are so blessed to be alive. Just sayin’…

1) Last weekend my dad came to visit me! I met him on the Amalfi Coast (Southern/Mid part of Italy) and we spent the weekend soaking up the sun and beautiful scenery. We also took a day trip to Capri (which I get to go back to in a couple weeks)! Capri was absolutely the most beautiful place I’ve been. Ireland was awesome, but this was a different kind of beautiful. My dad the photographer is the bomba-check these bad boys out:


The view of Positano, where we stayed. The dome of the Church is the little Cathedral, Santa Maria D’Assunta.


This was also in Positano, on a little hidden beach at sun-down.


I thought this was a really fun door. But this always happens-I’ll go hiking with my dad so I wear comfy clothes and he likes to take lots of pictures. First World problems…


A beach in Capri- the water was SO clear!


The view from our terrace at dusk.


Just off the coast of Salerno.

2) Here’s my outfit pic of the day. Another friend, Emily Brom, took these ones. I’m so Blessed to have amazing photographers in the house, I have no idea what I’m going to do this summer! :/




Top: Unionbay (kids), Necklace: Charlotte Russe, Capris: Old Navy, Sandals: Candies

3) Monday is the feast of St. Catherine of Siena! ‚ôęCelebrate good times, come on!‚ôę ¬†Her head is in Siena, but the rest of her body is here in Rome. Guess where I will be on Monday?

4) I have just finally gotten on board with Twitter. I was trying to hold out because a) I didn’t understand the point and b) I didn’t want to get addicted like I am to facebook. But I really like seeing what articles people share. Here is one I came across yesterday: “It’s Time for Better Women’s Magazines” I really like the idea of choosing a variety of body types for models. I learned by watching the “Killing Me Softly IV” documentary that the stereotypical model body type is a body type, but that only represents less than 2% of the female population. I think that’s a problem.
Do you know of any solid magazines for women? I love these ones:
Verily Magazine, Eliza Magazine, Radiant, Bow & Arrow

5) I came across a lot of really awesome Christian yet bangin’ beats songs yesterday. Check these out!

6) Speaking of music. I love to sing. And sometimes I get prideful and like to show off. And sometimes I get selfish and shy and don’t want to share. But I think I made a break through this week. I was asked to Cantor at Mass the other day, and it went really well. It was difficult because I don’t know how to read music, and it was Gregorian Chant. But I had awesome and patient teachers, and I was so glad to be able to give my gift back to the Lord. Holla!

7) ¬†I have some ridiculously exciting fashion-related news that I will be revealing soon. Stay tuned! ūüôā

**If you are visiting from Conversion Diary, welcome, and stop by often!**

7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 5)

1. Last week I was MIA with all posts because it was our Spring Break. The Triduum and now Easter in Roma has been glorious. The weather is warming up (the sandals and capris are finally seeing the light of day) and everyone is cheerful and upbeat.

2. First on our itinerary for our Spring Break was Ireland. Before we left I kept joking with everyone “I’m afraid to go because I might not want to come back!” Boy, was I right. One of my brother’s best friends from college moved to Ireland to become a priest, and he is now in the diocese of “Tuam” which is just north of Galway. He played host for us for the 3 days we were there.

The first day he picked us up, showed us Galway and brought us to an amazing restaurant for lunch, then we went back to the place we stayed (a little nun’s house). This house was cozy and quiant and had a fireplace which the five of us girls snuggled up to with tea at least twice a day. That evening we went out for Irish Mexican food, go figure, and we finished the night off at a local pub with local musicians. Perfection.

The second day Fr. Shane organized a¬†pilgrimage¬†for our group, along with about 10 high school students from his parish’s youth group to the Aran Islands for the day. It was so wonderful to interact with the Irish Locals, particularly young people. Part of “Leap Year” was filmed on the Aran Islands, and it was the¬†stereotypical¬†Ireland we were yearning to see: rolling green hills with stone fences built by hand, huge cliffs and carribean¬†blue waters. We had Mass on the Island and got to partake in some wonderful food.

Cathedral of Tuam, where Fr. Shane is.

The third day was the best: Father picked us up in Galway after shopping most of the day, drove us out by his family, and he took us to the town where “The Quiet Man” was filmed. After sun down on the drive home in rural country, we stopped in the middle of a field to see the most spectacular night sky of stars any of us had ever seen. Because we had an early flight the next morning, we stayed up and watched “The Quiet Man” with tea in front of the fireplace.
Not to mention it was sunny and didn’t rain all three days. What stuck out to me most was that everyone we met was amazing and so hospitable to us. The Irish welcomed us like we were their own family.¬†All in all I’d say our visit to Ireland was not too shabby.

3. Near Galway is the area called “Claddagh,” the home of the Claddagh ring, so clearly I had to get one! My intention for this ring was partly¬†aesthetics, ¬†it’s really sweet lookin’, and partly relationship-wise. I wear it facing out which signifies that my heart is open, but at the same time, the Lord is king of my heart.¬†Check out my previous blog on “Purity Rings” here!


Epic pictures taken by my roommate Emily Hoffmann.


4. After Ireland we were off to Poland.¬†We flew in to Katowice on Thursday and planned to make it up to Czestahowa to see the “Polish Madonna” but we missed the last train and later found out that some of our fellow classmates had lots of troubles up there so we decided to nix it from the itinerary. We traveled to Krakow instead and the next day we visited Auschwitz and the Salt Mines. Walking around the camps, it was like nothing I had ever experienced before, and it was really sobering to see the living conditions to say the least. We were able to see the cell where St.¬†Maximilian¬†Kolbe was, and a couple guys really like him so they really appreciated that.

Next we went to the Salt Mine just outside of Krakow which was a lot of fun. Our tour guide was hilarious (actually, we have been so Blessed to have top notch tour guides everywhere this trip, the Auschwitz guide was especially knowledgeable and helpful, and she has only been on the job for a year, and she looked like she just graduated college)!
Again, it didn’t work out to go to Wadowice, the home of the late Pope John Paul II as the home and museum are under renovation, or Rapka where my great-grandfather was from. At least knowing where my great grandpa was from was a great bit of trivia to pull out with all the locals ūüėČ
So you may be wondering, what did we do if we didn’t get to all those places? Eat. I was¬†pleasantly¬†surprised at how much I loved the food! Pierogis, Zurek soup, kababs, alcohol, and the desert was to die for! Finally, we finished our trip off at the Shrine of Divine Mercy a little outside Krakow on Divine Mercy Sunday! It was so cold (there was a little less than a foot of snow on the ground) and packed with people, but it was a great experience. The Polish music was stunning!
There were a couple of times when I thought “Man, I am so excited to go home and tell Grandma about my experience, she will be so proud of me!” It very quickly escapes my mind that she died this past January. It was a real gift to get to Poland, I kind of feel like I went “for” her, and it was like being at home when I could recognize and say Polish phrases that she would always say.

5. Here are a couple fun bragging links: My sister and her family were chosen to be the face of Huggies! You can see them on YouTube here (She is the one with the green&white checkered shirt). Also, I sometimes write for a monthly newsletter that is distributed in Coffee Shops around the Twin Cities and here is an article I wrote on True Freedom.

6. Yesterday we had an awesome opportunity to go to a private screening here in Rome of a new film “Little Boy.” It is by the creators of “Bella”, and has some overlapping actors with “Bella” as well. It’s about an eight year old boy who’s dad goes off to WWII and what the boy goes through to try to get him back. There are some pretty great actors, Kevin James from King of Queens and Hitch, the brother-in-law from Hitch Michael Rapaport, David Henrie from Wizards of Waverly Place, Ted Levine, and Tom Wilkinson among others. Also, really fun fact: We sat right in front of Ali Landry, she was Miss USA 1996, in Bella and Little Boy and once married to Mario Lopez but now she is married to the writer of Bella and Little Boy. I feel special. The movie is definitely a tear jerker–so be on the look out for it when it comes to theaters in the US, and let me know what you think!

7. Finally, today we all threw a surprise baby shower for our professor’s wife! It was a perfect day to celebrate a new life on the rooftop terrace of our house, eat delicious food and play ridiculous yet ridiculously entertaining games. No tears were shed until Mrs. Rota opened the gift of a bib from Medjugorje with a picture of Mary on it. We are so Catholic.

**If you are visiting from the link-up with Conversion Diary and Camp Patton, welcome, and come back soon!**

7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 4)

Happy A Solemn Good Friday to you! We’re in the home stretch, y’all, until we celebrate the¬†Resurrection¬†of our Lord, but until then we must remember His Passion, suffering and Death.

1) Today marks the first day the Novena of Divine Mercy should be recited leading up to Divine Mercy Sunday. Here is a super brief synopsis, but you should look elsewhere for a more in depth story/explanation: Our Lord appeared to Sr. Faustina and told her to have the image she saw painted. Jesus also said that we should venerate the image and recite the words “Jesus, I trust in you,” and celebrate His Divine Mercy on the second Sunday of Easter. A group of us will be going to Krakow, Poland to be there for the Feast of Divine Mercy! Woot woot!

2) This past week I had a true Roman experience: a haircut. The Italians, specifically men but lots of women as well, always have their hair in tip top shape, so I decided to give it a go. The guy didn’t speak English, which I somewhat expected so I made sure to bring in pictures. It was fun and I think it turned out great! (PS. This is an action shot, I didn’t end up with a mohawk)!


3) On Wednesday, a group of us completed a traditional “7 Church Walk” throughout Rome. In the footsteps of St. Philip Neri, we started at St. Mary Major and continued to walk about 20 miles total to the 6 other “Pilgrim Churches” around Rome, finishing at St. Peter’s Basilica. We saw a lot of Rome we hadn’t seen before, and at times it didn’t even seem like we were still in Italy, much less Rome. The saying amongst the group was “You know you have it good when you walk up to St. Peter’s and feel like you’re home.”

4) My brother came and visited me this week. We didn’t do much site-seeing, mostly just ate meals together, as he also studied in Rome during his time in college. He asked what I would most miss about Rome when I move back to the States, and the answer was¬†definitely¬†seeing the bodies/bones/relics of so many saints. Learning about, following their examples and almost literally walking in their footsteps has been awe-inspiring. On our 7 Church walk on Wednesday alone, we saw the tombs of St. Paul, St. Sebastian, St. Lawrence, St. Stephen, Blessed Pope John Paul II along with many other popes, and relics of St. Jerome, the manger, the true cross, the crown of thorns, a nail from Christ’s passion. Yesterday we went on another Church walk to visit 8 altars of repose after the Last Supper Mass, and saw the tombs of St. Philip Neri and St. Catherine of Siena. I know, unbelievable. We are so blessed!

5) My good friend recently introduced me to “The Staves.” They are three sisters with incredible voices and music. Check them out here. Also, have you seen this article? It’s a great take on modesty from the secular/fashion perspective. Aww yeah.

6) I have recently really gotten interested in reading scripture for the stories, ever since I was exposed to Ignatian Spiritual¬†Exercises¬†that the Jesuits practice. (What up Papa Francesco!) I thought it would be really sweet to read the Gospels in order of the Passion. For example, yesterday I read about Jesus’ time in¬†Gethsemane¬† and the Last Supper. Today I will read the Passion and watch Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ”, tomorrow I will read about the Guard at the Tomb, and Sunday about the Resurrection!

7) I just found out about this initiative called “Pure Beauty Project.” The fact that so many initiatives are being started, and are thriving, in response to the lack of care and respect toward women is very telling: that women are recognizing this injustice. Amen sistas. What’s beautiful about this project in particular is that it very much reaches women in industries that are very much apart of the culture and caught up in the lifestyle that pretty much by it’s nature disrespects the feminine¬†genius. (Have I said much too many times yet)? Check it out fo yoself!¬†Do you know of any others that you really like? (ex. Dove Campaign, Made in His Image, Verily Magazine, etc).

Have a Blessed Triduum! Do you and your family have any traditions for the Triduum/Easter?