On To Rome

On Sunday afternoon, February 15, 1880, Augustus left Quincy on the train for Chicago.  His mother, Martha Jane, his sister, Anne, Fathers McGirr and Richardt and other friends, black and white, saw him off.  From the time of his arrival in Quincy at the age of ten he had never been outside of Quincy.  It must have been exciting for him to watch the fields and the towns along the route to Chicago.

To help pay for his trip to Rome, Bishop Baltes had sent fifty dollars, the students of Quincy College had taken up a collection, and the Franciscans gave him ten dollars, a considerable sum of money for that time.  In his bag, he had the letter he was to present to the Cardinal of the Propaganda College when he arrived in Rome.

The train arrived in Chicago at night.  There he had a two-hour layover before he caught his next train. On Tuesday morning he arrived in Jersey City and the port of Hoboken.  The same order of nuns who operate St. Mary Hospital in Quincy, had a hospital in Hoboken.  Sister Perpetua whom he knew from Quincy was there and she invited him to stay until Saturday, February 21, when the ship "Der Westlicher" would sail from Hoboken, New Jersey to LeHavre, France.

The first time traveler must have been overwhelmed by the excitement, but on board ship he found a familiar face, the Franciscan Father Ewald Fahle whom he had met at Quincy College, was on board going back to Germany with several other friars to visit relatives.

The 12-day journey ended at LeHavre on March 4, 1880.  From there he took a train to Paris in order to make a connection to Rome.  His journey ended in Rome on March 10.  The first thing he did in the Eternal City was to find a church in which to thank God for the safe journey.  He was to report to the seminary on March 12, so he spent two nights in a hotel.

The dome of St. Peter’s in the Vatican dominates Rome.  It must have been an incredible thrill for the devout Catholic, ex-slave, former cigar-maker and soda-bottler from Quincy, Illinois, to see the great monuments and churches of Rome.

On Friday, March 12, he arrived in the Piazza di Spagna, where he looked up at the front of a three-story building with the inscription: Collegium Urbanum de Propaganda Fide.  His education there would last six years.  The first two years would be a completion of college work with most classes in philosophy.  Then there would be four years of theological studies, including doctrinal theology, moral theology, ascetical theology, sacramental theology, church law and the like.  All lectures, textbooks and examinations were in Latin but Augustus was well prepared for this higher education.

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