Posts Tagged ‘catholic’


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?


Friday, October 31st, 2014

DSC02484Today is All Saints Day and in Italy it is a big occasion. The day has been observed in the Catholic church since the first century and it has been a national holiday since 1949. Nov 1 sees families visiting churches and grave sites and the flower of choice is the mum.

We have driven by a couple cemeteries and florists have set up temporary stands to sell bouquets and potted plants of mums. The churches are filled with mums like we fill our churches with poinsettias at Christmas. It’s a big day!

Now tomorrow is All Souls Day. Whereas Protestants believe that all Christians are saints upon the acceptance of Christ, the Catholics believe it’s just for the dead. People in Italy, clean off the grave sites, frequently eat a meal at the cemetery or set a place setting for them at home. Some regions in Italy leave food and water out for the deceased to quench themselves and this is the time the dead have a yearly window to communicate with the living.

In a couple regions of Italy, the dead bring candy to the children as a way to stay linked with the younger generations.

I like that people take time to remember those who have passed away. Steve and I lit a candle last night at the cathedral and took time to remember and reflect our grandparents and parents.

But for me, Nov. 2 is about living cause it’s my BIRTHDAY!

Madonna’s Greatest Hits

Monday, May 11th, 2009


There is always something to celebrate in Montalcino.

This past weekend was the celebration of their patron saint:  Madonna di Soccorso.

Her image saved the day from a seige by the Spaniards  in the 1500’s, and since then the 8th of May is always a big deal with parades, church masses, first communion, community suppers, tombola(italian bingo), and more.  This ends with Mothers Day.  


I was asked to play the organ in the exquisitely beautiful Madonna church for the Archbishop of Siena and all went well on yet another relic organ.

The Italian people really venerate the past and teach their children to hold it dear also. Though outsiders, a few Montalcinese have opened their hearts to us, and in giving back in some small way, we are  a little bit Montalcino and a little bit Catholic!

Maundy Thursday Organist

Thursday, April 9th, 2009

The Duomo was  the site tonight of the inaugural playing by me of Catholic Liturgy!  I was suspended 3 stories above the altar area in front of the pipes of an organ from the year 1858 with bellows and all.  It was a very meaningful service: Father Piernino washed duomoorganthe feet of 12 men, then communion followed by a silent procession over to a narthex which was decorated like a garden to represent the Garden of Gethsemane

I played for about 8 different chants.  We seemed to be together, but the acoustics were really reverberating up to me.  I don’t get freedom to play any prelude or anything, it’s by the book .  Steve hung out with me in the balcony to keep me apprised of what  was happening down below as I had no visual.  There were no bats in the belfry, but I didn’t look to closely.  There is a huge dome above this photo.

This Saturday I play at 10 pm and somehow it involves fire (?) (“…He descended into hell…”).  Then again at 9am and 11 am on sunday.  It has been a little nervewracking, but an experience I will never forget.  Maybe Father Piernino will let the Pope know, and I can have and audience with Him when I get to Rome.

Holy Week, Italian Style

Sunday, April 5th, 2009

There are 9 churches in Montalcino.  The town in the 1400’s was about 15,000 people, now 5000 live here and there.  There are no resident priests.  They come from an Abbey down the hill and travel from congregation to congregation within the village on Sunday. 

clocktowermontalcinoWe attended a catholic mass at 9am, Palm Sunday.  Everyone got olive branches (when in Rome…).  Then the Father jumped in his car and went across town (1/4 mile) and did it all over again.   Both churches had pipes and organ consuls but were silent.  The congregation at the first was all seniors, but there were families at the second (10:30 service).  We engaged the Padre in conversation (he spoke French and Italian only) and the long and short of it is that I volunteered to play the organ for Pasqua (Easter) services.  I think he was genuinely excited because I am booked for the Saturday 10pm service at one church, and the Sunday 9 and 10:30 at two other churches.

I explained “No, sono catolico” but he said it was ok, because it was the same God!   I meet with Padre Piernino tomorrow at Church #1 at 6pm for a look at the first church and to learn (?) Catholic liturgy. 

I can’t imagine not playing on an Easter Sunday, I guess God couldn’t either. May it be to His glory, not mine!!

What an honor to play in these ancient churches …Amazing!