07 March 2015

La Galleria Borghese

La Galleria Borghese

The Borghese Gallery is one of the best art museums in Rome.  It began originally as the art collection of Cardinal Cardinal Scipione, who was the son of Hortensia Borghese and the nephew of Pope Paul V.  As the Borghese Gallery website explains:

Cardinal Scipion was drawn to any works of ancient, Renaissance and contemporary art which might re-evoke a new golden age. He was not particularly interested in medieval art, but passionately sought to acquire antique sculpture. But Cardinal Scipione was so ambitious that he promoted the creation of new sculptures and especially marble groups to rival antique works. Cardinal Scipione's collection of paintings was remarkable and was poetically described as early as 1613 by Scipione Francucci.
The museum houses one of the best collections of statutes by the famed sculptor Bernini.  It also houses several paintings by Caravaggio.  The Gallery is situated in the beautiful Borghese park on a hill at the northern end of Rome.  You can go through the museum in under 2 hours.  If you ever go, I strongly recommend going with a written guide or buying an audio guide.  The works of art are not well marked or described.

Here are some pictures of some of the art that can be found in La Galleria Borghese:

06 March 2015


Fiesole is a small town just outside of Florence.  You can get from the Basilica of San Marco just north of the Cathedral to Fiesole in about 10-15 minutes by bus.  In the history of the Dominican Order, it is important as a center for reform of the Order in the 15th century.  St. Antoninus, later Bishop of Florence, was one of the first novices there.  But it is also especially connected to Bl. John of Fiesole, more popularly known as Fra Angelico.  As St. Thomas Aquinas is known as the Doctor Angelicus (the "Angelic Doctor"), John of Fiesole is the Pictor Angelicus (the "Angelic Painter").  He was not only one of the greatest artists the Order has known, but he helped create the Italian Renaissance.  Below is a slideshow of some of the pictures I took from the convent in Fiesole.

29 January 2015

Oxford & Kent

I haven't posted here in way too long, so I decided to post some pics of my trip to England.  Right after Christmas I went to Oxford as well as Canterbury and Dover in Kent.  While in Canterbury, I celebrated a private Mass at the (now Anglican) Cathedral on the feast of St. Thomas Becket.  It was in the Cathedral that he was killed while praying Vespers.  He left the evening prayers to go to the
door where the 4 knights sent by Henry II had come to murder Becket.  As others locked the doors, St. Thomas insisted they be open, as the Church of God should never be barred at times of prayer.  The 4 knights came in and then murdered St. Thomas, his body was then taken to the undercroft where a shrine existed until its destruction in the time of Henry VIII.  In fact, the shrine of St. Thomas Becket was one of the most popular pilgrimage sites in all of Europe until the Protestants demolished it.  The location of his relics remains unknown.  There is now a marker on the stone where St. Thomas was martyred (see picture)

Below are some slideshows of pics from Oxford, Centerbury, and Dover:




30 October 2014

When All Souls Day Falls on Sunday

There has been some confusion in the Catholic corner of the Internet with regards to Mass this Sunday.  The Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite now allows All Souls Day to be celebrated on Sunday.  (The pre-Vatican II calendar would have (and still does) moved it from the Sunday, so as to allow Sunday to retain its primacy.)  Normally, there is no Gloria and Creed said on All Souls Day.  The confusion seems to originate from the Canadian Bishops, who seem to have required it in their local Liturgical Ordo.

To help clear up some confusion, I have scanned the relevant pages from the 2013-2014 Ordo Missae Celebrandae et Divini Officii Persolvendi published by the Libreria Editrice Vaticana:

Here is the English translation of the same from the edition published by Centro Liturgico Vincenziano:

Normally, when the Gloria and Creed are to be said, they are mentioned in the notes for the day, as is done above for the Solemnity of All Saints.  There is no such notation for All Souls Day.

The question is whether the GIRM permits or otherwise requires the Gloria or Creed.  Paragraph 53 of the GIRM reads, in part: "[The Gloria] is sung or said on Sundays outside the Seasons of Advent and Lent, on solemnities and feasts, and at special celebrations of a more solemn character."  There is a similar instruction with regards the Creed, from GIRM no. 68:  "The Creed is to be sung or said by the priest together with the people on Sundays and Solemnities. It may be said also at particular celebrations of a more solemn character."

There is perhaps an argument to be made that, at least at a solemnly celebrated Mass of All Souls, it would be appropriate to sing the Gloria and Creed, its absence in the universal Ordo notwithstanding.

12 May 2014

Pope Francis Speaks to Priests and Seminarians

The Pope met today with priests and seminarians studying at Rome's Pontifical Universities in the Pope Paul VI Hall in Vatican City.  The event began with students from the various colleges, representing most of the world, providing selections of music.  The songs ranged from Mexican hymns, to American spirituals, to Zulu ululations, to traditional English polyphony.  The Pope arrived a bit late--he was meeting with Bishops from Mexico and apparently they got to talking a bit.

The even largely consisted with a group of pre-selected seminarians each asking a question.  The questions related especially to priestly formation and ministry.  There was nothing particularly earth-shattering in the talk that I heard.  Pope Francis is always very pastoral.  Where John Paul tended to speak in the language of philosophy and Pope Benedict in the language of theology, Pope Francis speaks in the language of everyday stories.  Most of his responses were anecdotes from his own life and experience.  For example, one seminarian asked about the challenges of living in community life.  Pope Francis recalled an event when he was a young seminarian or priest and having trouble with one of his fellow seminarians/priests.  He went to his Spiritual Director to express his frustration with this person, listing all the reasons why he had a right to be angry.  Pope Francis said that his Spiritual Director asked only one question:  "Have you prayed for this brother?"  The Pope said he admitted at the time that he had not.  The Spiritual Director said something to the effect of, "Well, there's no more we can do right now."  That's Pope Francis, just a simple story to illustrate a very pastoral point.

After the talk he walked down the center of the Hall and met with seminarians.  I was able to get a few pictures there.  I left with a fellow Dominican and we were waiting just outside the exit doors.  The crowd wasn't moving, and we just assumed that security was holding everyone up to allow the Pope to get past first.  Little did we know that the Pope's next destination was just past we were standing.  So, the security quickly formed a corridor through the remaining few of us who were left, and escorted him right past us.  I never expected to get that close.  It was a nice bit of Providence!

Below are the pictures I took.

22 April 2014

Go to Orvieto!

The Duomo in Orvieto

A month or so ago, some friends were coming into town and asked about the possibility of a day trip to Rome.  I had my own thoughts, but asked a few other Americans here what they thought.  A number of them suggested Orvieto, which I had never been to see.  My friends never got the chance to go, but I finally did, and it was a great trip.

Orvieto is in the midst of a Jubilee Year.  The Church was built by Pope Urban VI in the 14th century to house a Eucharistic miracle.  Last year was the 750th anniversary of that miracle--The famous Corporal of Bolsena.  In 1263, a priest who began to doubt the truth of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist was saying Mass.  During the Mass, the host in his hand began to bleed drops of blood, which were visible to a number of people attending Mass.  Those drops stained the corporal (the small square cloth the priest uses under the host and chalice while saying Mass).  The corporal was preserved as a relic, and remains enthroned in a side chapel of the Duomo.

The Chapel of the Corporal
in the Duomo in Orvieto
This miracle is important to Dominicans because of its indirect tie to St. Thomas Aquinas.  In 1264, Pope Urban IV heard of this miracle of the bleeding host.  Inspired by it, he ordered that a new feast day be inserted into the liturgical calendar in honor of the Blessed Sacrament -- the feast of Corpus Christi.  The story is that he asked the two most scholarly friars, the Dominican St. Thomas Aquinas and the Franciscan St. Bonaventure, to compose the prayers and hymn for the new feast.  St. Thomas presented his first, after which Bonaventure threw his into the fire, so great was Thomas's poetry and theology.  Thus, Orvieto can be considered the birthplace of the feast of Corpus Christ, and St. Thomas its primary author.

For the Jubilee year, the Diocese has created a pilgrimage office.  They had received the permission of Pope Benedict XVI to open a Holy Door for pilgrims into the Duomo as well.  Certainly, if you are planning to go on pilgrimage to Rome this year, you should definitely also make pilgrimage to Orvieto.  It just over an hour by train from Rome's Termini station, and the train tickets are not terrible expensive.  From the train station, you take a small funicular railway up to the town on the hill, which costs little over 1 Euro.

Happy Easter

The Paschal Candle at the Basilica San Clemente: