Emma Cairo-Benoit: Italia as Text 2022

Hello! My name is Emma Cairo-Benoit, and I am currently a junior at Florida International University studying Public Relations Advertising and Applied Communications. In the future, I plan to work in the entertainment industry as a social media manager. Since, the beginning of my college career, I have dreamt about studying abroad, and I am so happy to finally be able to achieve that dream of studying the history and culture of Italy.

Roma as Text

Images taken by Emma Cairo-Benoit/ CC by 4.0

Cammina Secondo la Fede

By Emma Cairo-Benoit of FIU in Rome, 9 May – 23 May 2022

Before I could even speak, Catholicism was ingrained into me. While living in my grandparents house as a child my grandfather would carry me around the house and would always stop in front of a small silver plaque with the image of the Virgin Mary and the baby Jesus, there he taught me how to do the sign of the cross. I was baptized at the same church where I would attend Catholic school for twelve years of my life and then leave to continue my education at an all-girl Catholic high school run by nuns. I have had my moments, in my twenty years of life as a Catholic, of doubt and uncertainty, along with some contradictory thoughts on Catholic beliefs. However, I have always found solace in my faith and in the wonders of certain aspects. Being able to visit some of the most important churches in Catholicism was a transforming moment for me. Standing in front of the steps that Jesus walked on to face his fate given to him by Pontius Pilate as he was sentenced to the crucifixion at the Santa Scala was a moment I never thought I would be able to witness. For years I have heard the same story in theology classes and during Mass at Holy Week services where Jesus was betrayed by his apostle Judas and he was then arrested and flagellated before being brought to Pontius Pilate where the crowd then got to choose between Jesus and Barbbarus on whom to set free. The crowd chose to set Barbbarus, a convicted murder, free and Pontius Pilate then sentenced Jesus, convicted of treason, to be crucified. Seeing not only the steps Jesus walked on but a piece of the column where he was flagellated was such a solemn moment for me. Rome holds so much history not only in the foundation of the city and the architecture, but in Catholicism as well. People that travel and pilgrim from all over the world to see a glimpse of relics or to visit the capital of the religion find peace and a sense of clarity in finally being able to see for themselves the true faith.

Pompeii as Text

Images taken by Emma Cairo-Benoit/ CC by 4.0

A City Frozen in Time

By Emma Cairo-Benoit of FIU at Pompeii, 16 May 2022

On August 24, 79 BCE, Mount Vesuvius erupted over the city of Pompeii burying it in volcanic ash and debris leaving the city to be preserved and forgotten about until the 16th century. The city founded by the Greeks and then taken over by the Romans was known for being extremely ahead of its time and a commercial city. Pompeii is often compared to the modern New York City of its time with people constantly traveling, the scandalous yet enthralling sexual industry, the class system and social scene. When Mount Vesuvius erupted many fled the city to safety but others thought they had more time and chose to stay in the city. Approximately 2,000 people were killed in Pompeii because of asphyxiation of the toxic gases of the volcano, they were then covered in the ash that later hardened leaving the city exactly how it was at the time of the eruption. When the city was rediscovered in 1748 by engineering surveyors, they found empty cavities that seemed to be in the shape of humans so they filled the spaces with a plaster mold and then were able to find the remains of the individuals that perished in the fall of Pompeii. To this day only two thirds of the city of Pompeii has been excavated. In 2010, the Schola Armaturarum, the old gladiator barracks collapsed due to the pressure put on them by the physical mass of the unexcavated city pushing up against them. Most of the funds given to the city today are allocating towards preserving what has already been uncovered, but the complete excavation continues day by day to fully uncover the remains of the lost city. 

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