Sunday, April 12, 2009

Going to Church(es)

Happy Easter! Mr. P went off to church this morning (as he does pretty much every Sunday morning) and I stayed at home (as I do pretty much every Sunday morning). I know that it disappoints him to go alone, but for many years I accompanied him, hoping to find a sense of peace and belonging and it never materialized. Instead, I'd sit in the pew, looking around at the other parishioners and feel, well, annoyed ~ annoyed with the chatting, annoyed with children crying, playing, talking, annoyed with the nosy old women, annoyed with the smell of unwashed people. It was petty of me, yes I know, but after a while my discomfort outweighed any benefits of attending and I have more or less avoided going for the past year. I didn't grow up in a religious family (Mr. P did), but I did give it a shot ~ really, I did. I'm actually not comfortable with outward displays of anything: religion, affection, anger. I am British, you know.

That being said, on the trip we visited an astounding number of churches and, I admit, I was moved to tears a number of times by the sheer beauty of them. I thought it would be appropriate, on Easter Sunday, to share some photos. All of these pictures were taken by me ~ no pilfering from the internet this time.

Did you know that there are 720 churches in Rome? Seven-hundred-and-twenty! Wow! We saw them all ~ just kidding, but we did see a few. The first was the Church of Trinità dei Monti overlooking the Piazza di Spagna (Spanish Steps) in Rome. We didn't actually go inside this one ~ but isn't it pretty! With that palm tree, you'd think we were much farther south.

This next one is the Basilica of San Giovanni, which is also known as Christo Salvatore because of the inscription on the facade. This is the eccesiastical seat of the Bishop of Rome (the Pope) and is, therefore, his parish church in Rome. Again, we didn't go into this church. I found it interesting that the Pope, like any priest, has a parish church, not just St. Peter's at the Vatican.

Basilica di San Pietro (Saint Peter's) at the Vatican in Rome. There is a set of huge doors that is opened once every 25 years. Anyone who passes through those doors is cleansed of sin. I think maybe I need to go next time they open it ~ just to be safe.

The Church of San Sebastiano on the Appia Antica (Old Appian Way). It's much bigger inside than it looks.

Santa Chiara (St. Clare) in Assisi.

The Basilica di San Francesco d'Assisi in Assisi, Italy. St. Francis was a simple man ~ he would probably be dismayed at the opulence of the church that bears his name. It was built after his death in 1226. St. Francis was pronounced a saint on July 16, 1228 and the next day, the first stone was laid for this church.

The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore at the Piazza del Duomo in Florence. The facade of this church is entirely made of marble. It contains a dome designed by the famous engineer Filippo Brunelleschi and it is absolutely beautiful! On the same site are the Campinile (bell tower) and the baptistry. Most towns in Italy have these three buildings on one site. In Catholic church tradition, a person could not enter the church until he or she was baptised; therefore, there was a need for a separate baptistry. In the Renaissance, the baptistry was open to the public only once a year.

The Basilica di Santa Croce in Florence. This church is known as the Temple of the Italian Glories because it is the burial place of some of the most famous Italians, including Michaelangelo, Galileo, Machiavelli, Rosini, and Marconi. It also contains a memorial to Dante Alighieri.

Santa Giustina in Padua, Italy.

Basilica di Sant'Antonio da Padova. St. Anthony was actually born in Lisbon, Portugal, but due to a storm at sea, his ship washed ashore in Sicily; from there he made his way to Assisi. He spent his life travelling around northern Italy and southern France. St. Anthony is the patron saint of lost things ~ there were bulletin boards in the church full of photographs of missing children, relatives who had died, etc. It was heartbreaking.
Santa Maria della Pietà in Venice.

Chiesa San Zaccaria in Venice.

Basilica di San Marco a Venezia. The decoration adorning the church is made of up mosaics of thousands of tiny glass pieces, including tiles coated in gold. This church is connected by an ornate walkway to the Doges Palace, the home of the rulers of Venice.

St. Peter's Cathedral in Geneva, Switzerland. This is the church where John Calvin gave his inspiring sermons during the 16th century. We tried to go in but it was locked. Unlike Catholic churches, Protestant churches are not required to be left open to those seeking sanctuary.

La Basilique de Sacré-Coeur de Montmartre in Paris, France. Montmartre is traditionally known as an artists' district. In fact, one of the streets leading from the basilica (waaaayyyy up all those steps) hosts an artists' market where tourists can watch the painters and sketchers at work.

Église de la Sainte-Trinité in Paris, known by the locals as La Trinité.

Of course we visited Notre Dame de Paris ('Our Lady of Paris' in French). This is the main Catholic cathedral for the archdiocese of Paris and is a striking example of Gothic architecture at its finest.

This is the last church we saw on the trip. L'église de la Madeleine was built as a temple glorifying Napoleon's army. It is located near the Place de la Concorde in Paris.

I hope you enjoyed my Grand Tour of European Churches. I'm trying to present my photographs thematically so as to not bore you to tears with the whole chronology of the trip. It would take forever for me to share all our adventures. However, the teacher (and A-type personality) in me still requires some order, so all these pictures were put in sequence of when we saw the churches. I hope that helps you to keep the story straight about when we went to each place.
Until next time; à bientôt.


Kaye said...

Rachael, so glad you had a wonderful trip. The pictures and descriptions are so awesome. You should be a travel guide, you did such a good job


ha! I feel the same way, and surprisingly, I have been to almost all of these churches as well!
Even better a lot of my "real "Art" work, Not quilting is based on religion... not being religious, when I met my husband and we walked into each others places for the first time, we both had a Million crosses everywhere, but neither of us are close to the religious meaning of them... It's funny how much the images engrave our brains... looks like a great trip. I hope St. Francis church wasn't damaged to much from the earthquakes, it's a beautiful place.

Red Geranium Cottage said...

WOW the churches are beautiful. Glad you had a great trip. I too am one that does not attend church. Good reasons too I just wont go into all that. :-)
Happy Easter

Sara said...

Beautiful, beautiful churches. I love to go to old churches - I find some of the most beautiful patterns on the floors and different parts of the building...they at times make beautiful quilts.

For me visiting some of these old churches is about the art and architecture not about religion!!!

Tonya's Sewing Room said...

Why are there always so many people in front of the churches?

Sherri said...

Gorgeous church buildings...I bet the insides were phenomenal too! Thanks for sharing!