26 March 2013

Fribourg, Switzerland

 One of the reasons I started this blog, as I've mentioned before, is to post pictures of places I visit in Europe for friends and family.  Because of my postings following the Pope's election, this blog has gotten a bit of a wider view than I had thought it would.  Still, it's a handy place to post pics.

The Canton of Fribourg in Switzerland is one of the historically Catholic Canton.  (A Canton is roughly--very roughly--the equivalent of a "State" in Switzerland.)  The Cantons are generally divided between those that went for Calvin and those that remained Catholic.  Fribourg, because of its location between two Calvinist Cantons, was not only Catholic but quite adamantly so.  This was probably exacerbated by the violence they suffered at the hands of their Calvinist neighbors.  They still have the custom on Corpus Christi of firing of the town's canons as a warning to those Protestants who might seek to disrupt the Eucharistic procession.

When the Canton of Fribourg built its University, it asked the Dominican Order to run the college of theology, which it does to this day.  In America, we would find it odd for a state university to have a theology faculty run by a religious order, but such things are far more acceptable here.  Currently, our Province of Dominicans has three priests studying theology in Fribourg.

I had planned for some time to go up and visit these brothers.  While in the midst of planning, Benedict XVI announced his retirement.  I decided to take the trip anyway, thinking (and hoping) it likely that the Conclave would not start until I returned.  I turned out to be correct, thank goodness, and returned to Rome the day before the Conclave began.

Like much of Western Europe, the religiosity of the people--both Catholic and Calvinist--had faded greatly.  Nevertheless, the majesty of the Catholic faith--the churches, shrines, monasteries, and statues--remains.  It is amazing to consider how far and how deeply the faith permeated the culture there.

Switzerland is a place of incredible natural beauty, and of great artistic beauty as well.  The pictures below are just from my time in Fribourg.  I plan to upload as well pictures from Gruyere and Lucerne as well.