Posts Tagged ‘sienna’


Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

DSC02998There’s nothing like visiting a cathedral or basilica and being moved by the art and dedication of the faithful who built and worshiped for centuries. It is a faith-moment to be part of worship with a quick prayer or lighting a candle or just sitting a while and absorbing the sacrifice that went before.

But I find it jarring when I gaze on some altars or venture into a little chapel and have a skull staring back at me. And it’s not just skulls, it’s all sorts of body parts.

I gazed on St. Anthony’s tongue in Padua and St. Catherine’s tibia in Sienna, and entire skeletons of lesser saints all over Italy and Germany.

These are ‘relics; a portion of the body of a deceased saint that is venerated, are even dressed in gold and precious gems in some instances. They are encased in glass coffins and display cases and displayed prominently.

I guess at one time the Catholic Church in Rome had (or still has) quite a cache of these tidbits to bestow upon churches as reward or to gain favor. Here in Munich the chief congregation was gifted with more relics than anywhere else in Europe because they, at one time, were the anti-reformation leaders . Rome battled fiercely against Luther and his followers and if a congregation was given a relic, it would inspire wavering believers to feel special and keep their allegiance to their Catholic Church.

The Dome Church Frauenkirche here in downtown Munich, is the home church of Pope Benedict. He served here many years before being called to Rome. I wonder how he feels about relics, there might be a glass box here for him someday?

Where For Art Thou?

Thursday, September 18th, 2014


Not the home of Romeo and Juliet?? Say it isn’t so!

That’s right, an eager tour guide in 1970 thought this romantic courtyard with photogenic balcony would be just the key to kick up tourism for the city. Was there ever a Juliet Capulet? Probably, but money has it that she was most likely from Sienna. You see, a little further south, tuscan towns had neighborhoods that inspired incredible loyalty. In Sienna they are called contrades. Your identity was first and foremost that of the contrade, then your city, then your country. I am Catepillar Contrade (they are all creatures in Sienna), I am then Siennese, and then I am Italian! The loyalty was pretty intense and you wouldn’t dare marry outside of you contrade; don’t even think of it!

But the world needs romance and something to believe in, as evidenced in the 1,600 Japanese tour groups that come through yearly illustrates how that yearning is world- wide. So they come by the bus-load and drive right by the amazing roman coliseum to crowd this tiny niche and rub the left breast of Juliet’s bronze statue and to pay to lean out that balcony. Notes are delivered, and even the entry wall is plastered with bandaids with tiny inscriptions on them (and while there, keep an eye out for pick pockets)!

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