22 January 2013


I just realized I forgot to post the pictures from Bari.  After our trip to Calabria and Acri, we drove over the "arch of the foot" that is the Italian boot.  The drive reminded me a bit like long drives in the States.  However, while in the States you often pass miles and miles of corn and soybeans, in Italy you pass miles and miles of olive groves and vineyards.  With the olive trees, they'll often cover the ground with nets, shake the trees (I assume), and catch the ripened leaves in the netting.

15 January 2013

Vatican Christmas Creche 2012

I was in St. Peter's square this past weekend, when the crowds were much reduced.  As such, I was able to get some good pictures of the elaborate Christmas Creche in the Piazza.  (I wrote a little about it here.)  You don't get a good sense of dimension here, but the figures are rather small, perhaps about 6 or 7 inches tall, although the whole display is quite large. 

09 January 2013

Plaster Casts

In the museum of the Norman Castle in Bari, there is a series of plaster casts on display.  They were casts taken from various important carvings throughout the Apulia (or, in Italian, Puglia) region of Italy.  Here are pictures of some of them:


Acri is a small town--about 20,000 people--spread out over a range of hilltops.  The place makes San Francisco look like Nebraska.  It is in the Cosenza region of Calabria in southern Italy.  It is truly a beautiful place.

We went to the church of San Domenico (St. Dominic) there, which the Dominicans had from the 16th century until the supression of the religious orders in Italy in the late 19th century.  We entered at the tail end of Sunday Mass.  Afterwards we met the local pastor, Don Fiore.  He said that it was like a vision, looking up from Mass and seeing two Dominicans in white enter his little church of St. Dominic!  He and his parishioners were extremely kind to us.  They bought us breakfast and talked to us about the town.  The parish Deacon then offered to bring us to the town offices to look through the historical records for the family of the Dominican who came with me.  We went through a number of books and found a great deal of information about his family.

We also had Mass at the Franciscan church, the Basilica of Beato Angelo.  Bl. Angelo was a Capuchin friar from Acri, whose relics are in the Basilica.  The Basilica was built largely on the donations of Italian immigrants from Acri who had moved to the U.S.  The Franciscans were also incredibly kind.  Not only did they allow us to celebrate Mass, but they also invited us to a great lunch with them.

Bl. Angelo has a great devotion to the Mater Dolorosa.  The chapel has a very beautiful image of that title of Mary. 

My sister also insisted we take a picture of a medieval crucifix.  Well, this crucifix is housed in a church--Santa Maria Maggiore--on the top of one of the more remote hills of Acri.  I have never driven tighter corners than we did to get there.  And then getting home, my GPS decided we would drive a barely paved road all the way down the side of one mountain, just so we could drive back up the side of another.  When we got to a dirt road, the other priest, who was driving, had had enough, so we went back the way we came and found a slightly better--or, at least, safer--route.

Below is are the pictures I took.  Unfortunately, even though I remembered everything else, I forgot to take the good camera with me.  There are all from my cellphone.

Almalfi Coast

Another American Dominican and I went south of Rome in pursuit of his roots in Calabria, near the toe of the Italian boot.  On the way down, we made a slight detour to the Amalfi coast.  It was pretty quiet in January, although I imagine it is simply packed with people come the summer times.  Even in winter, the views are amazing.  The towns do seem to just cascade down the mountainside into the sea.  The driving can be a bit rough though--plenty of switchbacks and narrow roads.  It was definitely worth seeing, though.

03 January 2013

Friar in the mall: Bringing Christ to the marketplace - Catholic Sentinel - Portland, OR

A story from the Catholic paper in Portland Oregon.  Portland is in the Western Dominican Province -- the Province of the Most Holy Name of Jesus.  (Today is the feast of the Most Holy Name, and therefore the patronal feast of the Western Province!)  There is certainly a movement in the Order in the States to be much more evangelical.  Pray for their success!

Friar in the mall: Bringing Christ to the marketplace - Catholic Sentinel - Portland, OR:

Friar in the mall: Bringing Christ to the marketplace 
Catholic Sentinel photos by Ed Langlois
A Lloyd Center shopper stops to greet Fr. Tony Wall outside a Catholic chapel open at the mall through Jan. 26.

Catholic Sentinel photos by Ed Langlois
A Lloyd Center shopper stops to greet Fr. Tony Wall outside a Catholic chapel open
at the mall through Jan. 26.
Fr. Tony Wall gives a brief homily at Lloyd Center during what is believed to be the first Mass in an Oregon shopping mall.
Fr. Tony Wall gives a brief homily at Lloyd Center during what is believed to be the first Mass in an Oregon shopping mall.
+ view more photos
Fr. Tony Wall leads a morning talk on the rosary at rented space in Lloyd Center.
Ed Langlois
Staff Writer

Parishes that fail to evangelize at major shopping malls within their boundaries are "terribly remiss," says a gregarious Dominican friar who travels the American West on preaching missions.

Father Tony Wall, 87, is spending his third consecutive January ministering to shoppers at Lloyd Center in Northeast Portland.

Mall officials ask that Father Wall refrain from approaching the crowds actively. So the priest wears his white habit or black clerical garb and naturally dons a friendly visage. It adds up to an invitation to discuss matters minor or major.

Father Wall, who cites scripture and theology often, is as comfortable talking relationships as he is interpreting the thought of Thomas Aquinas. Last year, he spoke with hundreds of mall-goers, even hearing more than a half dozen confessions in quiet corners not far from shops like Abercrombie and Fitch, Forever 21 and Macy's.

This year, the mall ministry has reached a higher level. Nearby Holy Rosary Parish, tended by the Dominicans, spent a thousand dollars to rent an empty office on Lloyd Center's third floor. There, between the food court and Nordstrom, the parish set up a chapel and a confessional for Father Wall to use through Jan. 26.

On Jan. 2, he presided at what is thought to be the first Mass ever celebrated at a shopping mall in Oregon. Five worshipers attended.
From 11 a.m.-noon on weekdays, the priest leads a study and prayer group on the life of Jesus as celebrated in the rosary. Mass begins at noon, followed by eucharistic adoration until 3 p.m., when the day closes with the Chaplet of Divine Mercy and benediction. On Saturdays, Father Wall and volunteers will tend a kiosk on the mall's main floor, offering holy cards blessed by the late Pope John Paul II, plus spiritual conversation for anyone who's willing.

Father Wall, who can talk amiably about deep matters with anyone, welcomes Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

"Love is not a feeling. That's Hollywood," he tells a group attending a discussion on the mysteries of the rosary. "Love is in the will." As a mall-walker buzzes past, peeking curiously in the chapel window, the priest explains that we love in God's way when we continue loving after having our love "thrown back in our faces."

A sign outside the door reads: "Christ in the Marketplace" and gives the daily schedule.