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Art history intern discovers classics, enjoys community life in Rome

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Art history intern discovers classics, enjoys community life in Rome

By Elena Dini

ROME — Kathryn Van de Loo, a graduate student in classics at the University of Notre Dame, came to Rome for a six-week summer internship as a research assistant for well-known art historian and professor Elizabeth Lev. Van de Loo spoke with us about her experience during her summer stay at The Lay Centre.

Why did you come to Rome?

I am intrigued by Rome because of its significance for students of classics. This summer is part of a capstone project for my master’s in classics. Classical literature and history become more meaningful when I can also connect with them an experience of visiting the sites I have read about and studied. I hope that by studying Italian and completing a summer research internship I will be able to share all that Rome has to offer with students I teach in the future. 

What is the main focus of your internship?

During my six-week internship as a research assistant for Prof Elizabeth Lev, I will investigate the sermons of Nicolo de Cusa to look for theological ideas that may have influenced Renaissance painters, such as Michelangelo. 

Why did you decide to come to The Lay Centre?

The Lay Centre was recommended to me by the Notre Dame Rome Global Gateway.I stayed here for one month, and it was a great gift to be able to enter into its rhythm of life. Finding and creating community is important to me wherever I live, and I was interested in living in a place where I could learn from students who know more about life in Rome than I do. An unexpected side benefit, which turned out to be one of my favorite parts, was the opportunity to learn about different customs and cultures of people from all over the world. The location was also a plus! 

Art and community seem to be two important aspects of your life. How did you experience these at The Lay Centre?

The thing that struck me the most about The Lay Centre from the day I arrived was the positive community life shared by the residents. I am grateful to have been welcomed so warmly into a culture of respect, support, generosity and good humour. I am also very grateful for the opportunity to participate in regular community prayer, such as compline. 

One day I joined a group from Loyola University for their tour of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere and of the Roman Forum and the Colosseum organized by The Lay Centre. It was a wonderful experience. I enjoyed the opportunity to meet the undergraduate students visiting Rome for the first time and to hear their impressions of the city. It was an incredible gift to meet Sister Margaret at Santa Cecilia and hear all that she had to share about the history of that church. 

Talking with the professors, as well as with Heather from The Lay Centre, over lunch at the Trattoria degli Amici gave me a chance to learn about the Community of Sant'Egidio and the work they do. It was neat to see an aspect of life in Rome that I probably wouldn’t otherwise have encountered.

The tour of the Roman Forum and Colosseum opened up a new perspective for me, helping me to understand the development of Roman civilization according to the trajectory of mortal human beings desiring to become immortal. 

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