16 February 2013


Two of the Friars and I decided to take a day trip up to Florence. The fast train (frecciargenta - "the Silver Arrow") to Florence is about a 1.5 hour ride (it's about 4 hours by bus). It was a beautiful day -- sunny and about 50 degrees. A perfect day for walking around. We went to San Marco, which I had been to before, but it is always worth seeing again. San Marco was the heart of the reformed movement in the Order in the late Middle Ages. Among its most famous members were St. Antoninus, the former Bishop of Florence, Bl. Fra Angelico (John of Fiesole), the great painter, and Girolamo Savanarola, the preacher and civil reformer who was burned at the stake. All of them lived at our Priory of San Marco. During the unification of Italy in the 19th century, the Dominicans were forced to turn over their property. The Italian government eventually allowed the Order to move back into the Priory, but they kept that part that had Fra Angelico's frescoes. The stolen property is now a museum run by the Italian government. We also visited the Uffizi, the great art museum of Florence. It is perhaps the greatest collection of Western art in the world. We also visited the Cathedral, which is far more impressive on the outside than on the inside. Finally, we visited the other Dominican Church of Santa Maria Novella. It, too is a beautiful church. I had not had the opportunity to see that one the last time I was in Florence.