The Marian Library has in its possession rare books of the eighteenth century with engravings by the renowned Augsburg artist, Josef Sebastian Klauber (ca. 1700-1768). The highly symbolic and illustrative reproductions are typical of the Baroque period. Their message is of great spiritual riches. Mary’s profile is that of the exalted Mother, Virgin, and Queen, as suits the period. We limited ourselves to the illustrations of the Marian titles . . .
Off to the right of the main altar in Santa Maria Maggiore, the principle basilica of Our Lady in the Western Church, is the so-called Sistine Chapel–not to be confused with the Chapel by the same name in the Vatican decorated by Michaelangelo. This chapel was built by Pope Sixtus V, a Franciscan, to honor his Dominican predecessor Pope St. Pius V, depicted in the sculpture above. Click on the picture for a larger version.
In my last post I said I would post some more pictures of Santa Maria in Ara Coeli. The Church does not look like much from the street 124 steps below its porch. Inside, however, is a different story. There is plenty of interest, especially for a Franciscan, the Church being the medieval generalate house for the Order. Our focus here, though, is the Battle of Lepanto.
This is the interior wall of the front of the Church:
The central stone panel in the lower half of the photograph contains an inscription commemorating The Battle of Lepanto. Click on the photo above for a better look. The inscription tranlsates: Continue reading →
I am off to the airport in about an hour. This morning we took this picture of the community in Via Boccea. Father Settimio is the suprerior of the house (the very tall one in the middle). If you would like to see the state of Fra Giles’ balding head, click on the pic for a better look.
Yesterday the said Fra Giles and I went into Rome and visited a few churches. We also ate lunch at Santa Maria Maggiore with the friars there. Fra Giles was asking about everyone in America. He says hello to the locals.
One of the churches we visited yesterday was Santa Maria in Ara Coeli (Saint Mary of the Altar of Heaven), which an ancient church built on one of the tallest hills in Rome over the ruins of the Roman temple of Juno Moneta. I will more into the history of the Church in the next post. My main interest in this Church, which I had never visited before, is two: 1) It is the ancient Roman headquarters for the Franciscans; 2) It contains a huge memorial of the Battle of Lepanto.
In 1571, Santa Maria in Aracoeli hosted the celebrations honoring Marcantonio Colonna after the victorious Battle of Lepanto over the Turkish fleet. Marking this occasion, the compartmented ceiling was gilded and painted (finished 1575), to thank the Blessed Virgin for the victory.
Here is a little taste of some of the pictures I will be posting over the next few days.
This is the best shot I could get of the whole ceiling (click on the image for a larger version):
In southern Europe, says Marco Ventura, a religious-law professor at the University of Siena, Catholics are now more worried about the perceived advance of Islam than about maintaining old entitlements for their faith. “Their dilemma is whether the rights which their faith enjoys can be justified when new ones, like Islam, are appearing in Europe.” Some of Italy’s Muslims, meanwhile, have been demanding “secularism” in the sense of diluting the Roman Catholic culture of the state, which is epitomised by crucifixes in court rooms, classrooms and hospitals. A Muslim convert, Adel Smith, has been fighting a long battle to get such symbols removed.
In France, President Nicolas Sarkozy has dismayed secularists by stressing the country’s Catholic heritage in some recent speeches. But the late (Jewish-born) Archbishop of Paris, Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, was a staunch defender of the secular state as a bulwark against all forms of fundamentalism.
Defining the relationship between religion and the state was certainly easier when it could be assumed that religion’s hold over people’s lives and behaviour was in long-term decline. But with Islam on the rise, and many Christians—even those with the vaguest of personal beliefs—becoming more defensive of their cultural heritage, the line is getting harder and harder to draw.