Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Don't ride the Metro when it rains!

     It's pouring down rain and the wind is blowing umbrellas inside out. We have to meet our friend Rob across town to pick up our rent-a-car for our little jaunt over the All Saint's Day holiday. We get on the Metro.....just barely.....the door is gliding over Pat's backside as it closes. I have never been packed  in with that much humanity in my life!!!  I was poked prodded and leaned against by male and female and I know I violated at least 2 people with my cane!!! It was impossible to fall down because you were held upright by bodies!!
     Any way, we meet Rob, walk 6 blocks in the pouring rain to the  car rental I leave the rental place (which had put cardboard outside for foot wiping) I slipped on said cardboard, fell on my @$$, and now not only my sleeves and feet are soaking wet, but my backside is SOAKED......and I am on my way to Mass and dinner at the Lay Center......can you say "miserable"?  Mass was in Italian (frustrating), the gloria and the closing were in Latin but we sang Keil's Psalm 24 and Haas' Blest Are They - at least those were in English!
     So we finally get our car - a Mercedes Benz!!!!!!! We were so psyched to be going to Siena, Orvieto and Bolsena in the comfort of a MERCEDES!!!!  I immediately began singing "O Lord, woncha buy me a Mercedes Benz" and it is still running through my head!
     Rob picks us up tomorrow at 10 and we are a car....not a bus....not the Metro......but a car!!!!
Wooo hooo!!
More later from Siena!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Affirmation Sunday!

     There are ALL KINDS of awe-filled experiences to have in Italy, period. This morning, we experienced, yet again, the beauties of the liturgy at Caravita. One of the 3 priests who hold the community together, Fr. Gerry, is a Jesuit and a WONDERFUL, intelligent and Spirit-filled preacher and he shed light on the story of Bartimaeous that I had not seen before! Pat felt the same way - we were entranced and we discussed it all through lunch! (Mary Ann, we went to the same place we took you and Richard)
     Then another of the priests, Fr. Keith, (who is a recognized and published expert on the liturgy) wanted to know if I could possibly extend my stay in Rome for Advent and Christmas. I was flattered beyond words, but I told him that I missed my community back home, my subs are probably tired by now.....and my pastor would kill me!! But it felt oh, so good and affirmed to be asked!!!
Santa Lucia
   Don't ask me why this text is green and underlined - it just happened when I uploaded this photo of Santa Lucia.
    I show her image (found in a museum in Assisi) because of blind Bartimaeous, and because she is the patron saint of eyesight and I pray for my mom to be able to hold on to what little sight she has, through the intercession of Santa Lucia!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

My patron!

     Today, we set out to see the church of S. Caecelia, the patron saint of music and musicians - 2 buses and a several block walk later, we came to it! It is a lovely church with a court yard and a piazza.
         In front of the sanctuary is a statue of the dead Caecelia as they found her incorrupt body. Her head had been partially hacked off with an axe and she died of her wounds - this is how she was found, wrapped completely in cloth.
    She is the patron of music because they first tried to kill her by locking her up with no food or water, but she sang and sang and was not starved to death, so they let her out eventually and killed her with an axe. I thought this particularly appropriate, as I know several pastoral musicians who have gotten the same treatment!!! ;-\
This is the gorgeous baldechino and apse mosaic in the sanctuary
     Under the church is the excavation of S. Caecelia's home - I took a ton of photos of the rooms and the structures and the inscriptions, but I wanted to show a portion of the this beautiful mosaic floor which has survived for centuries
Add caption
      A bit further on in the excavation is a chapel with some absolutely beautiful mosaics - this photo could be brighter, but this is all I got!
      After this, we had 2nd breakfast (we are turning into Hobbits!) at a little cafe and set off to get the bus. Littel did we know tha we would be on the bus for a complete tour of Trastevere (the other side of the Tiber from where we live!) We were on that bus for at least an hour and the scenery was no hat great. Unfortunately, the walls and buildings are covered with grafitti.....and not even very good grafitti!!! It was depressing. But we finally got back to Piazza Venezia and got our bus for home!
     I am hoping to put the rest of my photos on my Picasa site and I will let you know if that happens!!
Ciao adesso!!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Assisi / the day after....

We checked out of our hotel and left for the train station. While hunting for guessed it.....the bathroom, I ran into two ladies. One had a "Maryland" sticker on her suitcase, so I asked about it. She and her companion (Ann and Sharon) are both from Maryland!!! Ann lives in Hillendale, which is about a mile from the house where my mom is and where I grew up! What a freakin' small world!!
     The train ride home was fine ( meaning we got on the right train and didn't end up in Sorrento!!)
We spent the rest of the day separate rooms.....needed alone time - we had been together 24 /7 for the better part of four days!!!  LOL!
     This morning we attended a talk given by a perfectly charming Irish priest whose 1st name is Michael, but who spells it and pronounces it in an odd way! After the talk, we had liturgy and I had planned it and served as cantor! It is a wonderful feeling to be able to do this in a foreign setting. The clergy that I have worked with here ( both at Caravita and at the Lay Center) "get it"!!!! They are good and holy men who spread the word of God with the gifts of the Spirit given at the Second Vatican Council!!! Yes, there are the cassock and lace crew who parade around the streets with their entourages, and there are the Tridentine adherents who don't care whether anyone is there or not, but there are also wonderful priests here, filled with humility, filled with the Spirit and filled with the desire to form community in faith! I am blest by their presence!
    In an hour or so, we will be off to the market as my cupboard is bare and I need DIET COKE and toilet paper - 2 staples of life - oh, and pastry.....can't be without pastry!!  Lol!!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Assisi - part 2

    Yesterday, after enjoying our complimentary breakfast, we caught the bus at 9 for town and the Papal Basilica of S. Francesco! The bus drops you off in the piazza and the lower basilica and crypt is.....wait for it.....up a hill!!!

      So I got a Diet Coke and a taxi (2 things which make me very happy!)and up we went!
      The lower church is awe-filled and art-filled, most notably being the Cimabue painting from which the famous St. Francis is excerpted. I was trying to elude the guard which is why the photo is so blurry - bad, bad Linda!
Cimabue's Virgin with Angels and St. Francis
     We heard Mass going on and it was being celebrated in a chapel by a Chinese priest with a Chinese congregation. It was beautifully done - the priest was a wonderful singer (the congregation, not so much) and he chanted all the prayers and dialogues.
     Then we went to the chapel which houses the altar over the tomb of Francis - a very moving experience.
   Down another staircase, was the actual tomb and a small room of relics of the saint. The tomb itself just looked like a concrete box but His poor little patched robe was so compelling, I couldn't take my eyes off it! Of course, it was encased in glass so the photo is not clear, but you can see the patches- so many that you can hardly tell what the original fabric was..
    Then we went to the upper church......yes, more steps - OY! I was not going to chance photos of the Glorious Giottos, considering the degree of disintegration some of them have suffered. Suffice it to say, they were glorious!!
    We strolled the (insanely hilly) streets of Assisi, had lunch and shopped and visited 2 museums; one was a museum of the missionary efforts of the Umbrian Franciscans in the rainforests of Brazil.
Note the instruments for Mass in the rainforest!

and the other was a state/town museum which looked like it contained the art that was too disintegrated or too poor in quality to make it into the churches. Still there were some lovely things to see
St Francis and the Child Jesus - Mary had disintegrated...

Our Lady of Mercy
     At 4 PM, we were exhausted, so we got a cab DOWN to the piazza where we could catch the bus - we rested and had dinner in the hotel (a very fine dinner of pesto stuffed chicken with carrots and asparagus and oven roasted garlic and rosemary potatoes - major YUM!!!)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Assisi - part 1 1/2

    Ok, so I tried yesterday, but the wifi was playing all manner of nasty tricks and I lost a whole bunch of stuff.
      S. Maria degli Angeli and the Portiuncula
   It really is beyond words to think that you are standing in places and touching things that Francis did! .....another view of the Portiuncula
door of the portiuncula with tourists

the backdrop over the altar in the portiuncula
This is a portion of the cord that Francis used to keep his robe tied.

This is a statue on the way to the rose garden - the dove is alive!!

     The whole experience is awe-filled! And I took these photos at risk of expulsion from the church, as there were no photos allowed
 But wait...... there's more!!!
      Francis asked for the favor that anyone visiting the portiuncula should have all sins and purgatorial time removed, (ie. plenary indulgence) so Pat and I are golden! I told him we should step out in front of a bus, because we would go straight to heaven! :-)

But wait......still more.....
That night (after a nap!!) we took the bus to Assisi and roamed around for a few hours. I was NOT up to climbing the hill/stairs (ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING in Umbria is up a hill or up stairs or down a hill or down stairs......even the bathrooms!!!!!!!) to S. Francesco's church, but we went into a little
church on only a SMALL hill called S. Pietro d'Assisi.There we saw a most charming  creche/town of Bethlehem, a tradition begun by St. Francis.
portion of the precepio

I love the little cloud of putti over the stable

 Then we came home and wrestled with the computer until bed! 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Assisi (part 1)

   I just lost a big chunk of prose due to a wi-fi malfunction -grrr- but I will at least post some photos. We managed to navigate the bus system in Assisi and found our way to S. Maria degli Angeli, the basilica that houses the Portiuncula (the little chapel St. Francis repaired at the behest of the crucified Christ.
    and now it won't let me upload pictures.....grrr....again
will try when I get back to Rome :-(

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Getting ready......

.....for Assisi!!
     Next week is a break for classes at CEA, we we are going for 3 days to Assisi. This has special meaning for Pat because he was a Franciscan for 9 years (of course, he's been my husband for 41 years, so I guess I beat out St. Francis -lol!!)
     We left the apartment at 9:30 - only in Rome can one encounter 2 Orthodox rabbis who were conversing in Italian, and who greeted us in Hebrew (shabbat shalom!) and be followed by a group of youth pilgrims babbling and singing in German! What a great town!
    So today we went to a great little store near the Pantheon where they sell Italian food for the cook and we sent our daughter a big box for her birthday, which is on Halloween, because she LOVES to cook!!!
     We have been to so many churches, we are now reduced to seeing churches named after saints we never heard of! St Eustachio??  He looks young.

Perhaps he is the patron of ears - are the Eustachian tubes in your ears?? But he has  nice church with lovely angel fonts

     Anyway, we traveled on to St. Augustino to see another Caravaggio, The Madonna of Loreto. I was particularly anxious to see this as I played and sang the 7:00PM Sunday liturgy for 15 + years at Our Lady of Loreto, and my ensemble still does their patronal feast! Here she is - looks like baby Jesus has put on a few pounds back in Loreto!!  Lol!!
(something you don't hear everyday - a horse just went down our street followed by 2 scooters!)
   So tomorrow we will attend mass at Caravita, I will be the psalmist and then we will board a train for Assisi! My next post will be from there!!
ciao, amici!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

A busman's holiday

    So we went back to the Lay Center (where we just were last night for Mass and dinner) for the beginning of a lecture series on the Year of Faith. A Jesuit, Fr. Michael Paul Gallagher, gave the talk and it was wonderful and insightful.
Two points especially stayed with me; "Faith is an infant's first real smile - it says 'I am loved' " and Evangelization is surprising people with a gift they don't know they need"
      After the talk, there was a liturgy and here is where the busman's holiday come in. I was the cantor and led the sung prayer with my little travel guitar! It was in a small resonant chapel (which even made the small 6 string sound good!) in a Passionist house and it was the small community that had attended the talk (about 30 people). It felt good!!!  I have been cantoring at the Caravita Community but they don't use guitar, so it was nice to be "back in the saddle" so to speak, having chosen the music and done the worship aid!!
And I will be doing it for the next 6 weeks until I go home!!
Ciao for niao!!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

O, Che Gioia!!!

    It still tickles me that I can go out on a Tuesday morning and come home around 2 and find my entire apartment cleaned, bathroom scrubbed, towels replaced and bed changed!!! It's the little thing, ya know??? I love it!!!
      We went to Piazza del Popolo this morning, a mere 4 stops on the Metro. We wanted to see the Caravaggios at S. Maria (who else??) del Popolo - which we did (after elbowing our way past a large tour group that was camping there!!!) Of course, NO PHOTOS, but my leetle iphone makes no noise when I hit the shutter, so......

here is his conversion of St. Paul!

     Then we went to a marvelous little museum devoted to the mechanical drawing of Leonardo da Vinci, with the history of a few of his paintings sprinkled into the mix. Artisans had built copies of the machines from da Vinci's drawings and they were inter-active so you could try them out.....except for the portable piano!

It said on the blurb that it sounded like a why not just play a viola and walk along??  Lol!!
     They had a wonderful film on the restoration of daVinci's Last Supper and there was a copy of the finished restoration there.

      Then we went to Mass across the piazza at yet another church (S. Maria della Miracolo) and we prayed for all who have asked for our prayers and our dear ones who are ill. But off to the side was a small altar and you could leave offerings to both S. Lucia and S. Rita of Cascia. Well, my mom is legally blind, so I left something at S. Lucia (patroness of the eyes) and my God mother, who is struggling with dementia, is Rita. So I left something for S. Rita and left my two moms in their care!
And now I am sitting in my newly cleaned apartment contemplating a nap, so I can go hear highlights from Italian opera at the local Anglican church tonight!!
Ciao, belli amici!!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

WARNING: Art rhapsodizing!!!!

Today we went to the Vatican Museum - yes, I had been before but only for 2 hours and Pat ad never been, so we set off on the Metro which took us very close to the entrance of the museum, but at the bottom of some stairs.

Whew! I was dead before we even got in line, but we got in after only a 1/2 hour! We saw SO MUCH that my poor words can never describe it all nor can I post all 179 photos, but I shall give highlights:
     Naturellement, the Sistine ceiling take my breath every time I see it! My boy Michelangelo is amazing!!

   Then there was Raphael's painting of the Eucharistic miracle at Bolsena (my grandfather's paese!) which precipitated the declaring of the Feast of Corpus Christi

Pat really wanted to see Raphael's School of Athens and Dispute over the Eucharist and we did see them in all their glory!
     I was soooo  impressed with collection of altar screens or icon screens (not sure which to call them) - gorgeous, every one

And last, but certainly not least, was the Merlozzo da Forli room with his fresco fragments of angels and apostles - Irene, it would have blown your socks off as it did mine!

Praise Him with drums and cymbals ps. 150
Praise him with strings and reeds  ps. 150           Ok, I lied! This is the last thing: There are rooms with modern art work and some of these are lovely and awe inspiring and gives me hope for the future of Italian art (meaning they didn't blow it all in the Renaissance!!)

Pentecost in bronze (the whole piece is magnificent)

an unfinished madonna in stone

I am pooped and I have to walk 1/2 way to church tomorrow because the taxis and the buses are having a strike again!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

"It's a turn down day"

And it was one of those days where you need to get stuff done. There was a burned out light bulb (my side of the bed!!) to replace (fortunately, it is the job of the "super", so our guy Marco gave me one) and a broken hair dryer to replace. WOW!! Are hair dryers expensive here!!!! I got a small travel hair dryer for 39 euros because the regular sized ones were 98!!!!
     Then I found a store that was going out business (always looking for a 50% off sale - clothing is outrageously expensive here) and got Pat a dress shirt and a polo and some ties for Tim!
      Then I spent the afternoon working on the liturgy at the Lay Center - trying to get music from which to play and trying to create an order of service/worship aid! A lady at GIA was INCREDIBLY helpful and created and sent me a PDF of the psalm of the day, and J. Michael Thompson sent me his text for the Feast and it was even placed with the tune!!!! By George, I think I got it!!!
     Cooked pasta Bolognese!!
today is the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council - the synod of bishops is going on as I write. Let us pray that the inbreathing of the Spirit at Vatican II will continue to inspire our bishops to see the gifts we all have to offer!

Blessed John XXIII, pray for us

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Two again and an "uh-oh"

So yesterday, as I posted on Facebook about S. Pietro In Vinculi and the Moses, was a wonderful day! After S. Pietro, we went to S. Maria Maggiore (of unhappy memory as I had to trek home for 9 blocks after seeing it and John Lateran!!!) because Pat was taking his class there today and a professor can never be TOO prepared!!
    So here is Moses again and a treasure from S. Maria

Moses from another angle

I thought it interesting - a star of David among the floor mosaics!

      After the church, we went into a museum adjoining the church that had some gorgeous stuff!! Here are 2 things that caught me eye especially:

GORGEOUS 6 ft tall angel candlesticks

This pose of the baby made me laugh; "Yo! Ma! Got milk?"

      So we parted ways at Maria Maggiore -Pat went to meet a student at the Center and I went shopping and back home (found a shop that sells Fontanini - bought a baby Jesus, covered with a blanket in the manger and an angel!)proud of myself that I got the right bus and didn't end up across the Tiber!! I check my email and find that Pat has sent me an email saying that he "lost" his wallet or that it was stolen in his confusion of getting on the Metro going the wrong way and trying to get off and go the other way! (major sigh!!) I had to cancel the credit card and make arrangements to get another (that took an hour or so) and we are out one driver's license, 50 euros and a bus pass! GRRRRR! Oh well! At least he still has his passport!!
Hope tomorrow is better!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

   So Sunday was a major high as I posted on Facebook. It's not every day that a priest whom you don't even know tells you that you are everything a cantor should be!!! 
     After Mass, we went to lunch with Rob and company at the Lay Center, where he lives. We met the director, a lovely woman named Donna and everyone was so welcoming!! Rob gave us a tour of the area and we saw an aloe plant that looked like it could have eaten Cleveland for breakfast!! It was huge!!

     Then we came home, watched another Brother Cadfael mystery and collapsed (lol) - still dragging from the Florence jaunt!
      Yesterday was market day farmacia day and laundry day (yeah, Rome isn't all museums and gelato!!) - what makes laundry day such a deal is that there is no dryer. I bring in a pile of wet clothes from the washer and drape them on a clothes rack and all over the apartment!! The Cistercian monastery is right across the street from us and we thought maybe we could run a clothes line from our flat to theirs, but no..... Lol!!
ciao, amici

Monday, October 8, 2012

one thing more....

There was SO freakin' much to see that I actually forgot one of my favorite things! (Irene reminded me) I have always loved Fra Angelico's angel musicians and I found them here at San Marco. I bought all 12 prints of them; here's why they are so easy to miss. They are but the border of this madonna and Child (Jesus sporting a lovely dark green dress!!) and each one is a masterpiece!

Firenze - The Agony and The Ecstacy - day 2

    It's 8:00 AM and we are standing at the entrance of the Medici chapel. We are let in at 8:15 and we go through a metal detector (as we do for many of the larger tourist attractions including St. Peter's) and set out into the chapel. The first floor has lush liturgical furnishings that truly belong in a museum! The second floor is the large chapel - it is very masculine in color and style - all browns and dark greens!
     Then we went to the chapel where the Michelangelo monuments for Lorenzo and (another Medici I can't remember) are displayed. INCREDIBLE!!! The workmanship, the polish of the marble, the muscular delineation, the sinewy definition, the casually seductive poses of the "Day and Night, "Dawn and Evening" - the genius!!! Ah! Truly ecstacy!!
but NO PHOTOS ALLOWED!!! BOO!!!   I sat in the foyer while Pat went to check out of our hotel and check our bags.
I needed the rest! :-(
       Next, a taxi to the Museo San Marco, a Dominican monastery decorated by Fra Angelico! The individual monks
's cells each had a Fra Angelico masterpiece frescoed on the wall. I took a photo of every cell (until I found out that photos were not allowed!!  Oooooops!) Each one was wonderful!

Noli me tangere

Another anunciation

The Resurrection

Pat contemplating a Fra Angelico crucifixion

    After basking in the glories of the frescoes, we went downstairs to illuminated manuscript exhibit! It showed how the monks did this work, all their materials and  samples of HUGE books (I wouldn't want to be the cantor, lector or deacon who had to carry one of them! lol) But they too, were glorious - made me want to get out my pens again (I did buy some ink....)
     Now, after this we had lunch and attempted the Uffizi - we figured the line would be down the street, but we were wrong. We walked in and asked for 2 tickets and we got them....just like that!!!!! Sorry to say that there are NO photos in the Uffizi and there are guards everywhere, so no photos of any of this amazing art. If you have been to the Uffizi, you know what I am talking about; if you haven't been, GO!!!
     Here we are on the roof, enjoying the view (and the chairs!!!)

   We took a txi to the train station and slept all the way O che gioia!!!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Firenze - the Agony and the Ecstacy -day 1

Lets get the agony part out of the way - I really punished my lumbar discs all on my own and with Pat's help. If I hear "It's just a short walk...." one more time, it will be grounds for divorce -lol!!! My idea of a short walk is across the street for gelato. His idea of a short walk is 7 blocks on cobblestones  to the Duomo!!!  BASTA!!!
     Now, to the ecstacy.....we got off the train and (I)hobbled across the street to S. Maria Novella, a beautiful church that holds a gorgeous crucifix done by Giotto, but there was a "NO photo policy". But I did get a photo of lunch, a typical Florentine lunch of "gnude al burro" (spinach and ricotta dumplings on a sage and romano sauce)YUM!!!!
         Thenwe wanted to go to the Academia, where the David et al is, but the line was WAY too long, so we decided to see the Duomo. I had seen the outside but had not been in it.
These cathedrals are so awe inspiring, especially upon first entering, in view of the sheer gargantuan size!! The outside is done in 3 major colors of marble, white green and pink

     There were so many things inside that drew my eye, but I lit candles here for friends who are suffering and I want them to see.

     Then, as I had all but collapsed, I sent Pat to see the Baptistry. Again, we had seen the famous Ghiberti bronze door reproductions, but not the inside. Pat loved it and took no photos (lol)
      After some rest and a gelato, we decided to go to the Duomo museum. WHAT a treasure!!! There were SO many wonderful things - way too many to show you - but I will show you 2:
The REAL bronze overlaid with gold doors of the baptistry

The Florentine Pieta by Michaelangelo, meant for his tomb

One of the "Cantoria" panels by Luca delle Robbia

     We took a taxi back to our Bed and Breakfast, had some dinner and went to sleep! Tomorrow begins at 8:15 at the Medici Chapel!!