CHIAVARI, Italy – In
this week before Easter, religious festivities in Rome will be front and center
on Italian television. The celebration officially start on Holy Thursday
with the Mass of Chrism, (holy anointing oil). This mass includes the
reading of the Passion, which chronicles Jesus’ capture, suffering and
St. Peter's Basilica, at the Vatican
Later in the day, at
the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, Pope Francis will wash the feet of 12 men,
following the tradition of Jesus and his Apostles. Both masses
mark Christ's founding of the priesthood at the Last Supper on the night before
On Good Friday, the
day of Christ’s crucifixion in 33AD, the Pope says mass in the Basilica of St.
John Lateran (Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano). St. John’s was built by
the Roman Emperor Constantine in the 4th century. Constantine was the
first Roman Emperor to convert to Christianity, and St. John’s is the cathedral
of the Bishop of Rome. It is known as Omnium
urbis et orbis Ecclessarium Mater et Caput – the Cathedral of Rome and
of the World.
Via Crucis Procession, Rome
Friday evening the
Pope leads a torch-lit procession from the Coliseum to Palatine Hill (Via
Crucis Procession), and at pre-designated stops, the faithful recite the
prayers for each of the Stations of the Cross.
The Easter Vigil mass
at the Vatican’s St. Peter’s Basilica will start at 9PM on Saturday night. No
lights will be lit. The Basilica will be shrouded in darkness until Pope
Francis enters. He will be carrying a long, white Paschal, a special Easter
candle decorated with gold leaf.
From the single flame
of the Paschal, twelve candles are lit and from those twelve, hundreds of other
smaller candles will be lit, one by one, until the entire church is bathe in
candlelight. As the candles are being lit, the Pope will proceed to the altar
and begin Mass with: “Brothers, on
this most holy of nights, in which Jesus Christ our Lord passed from the depths
of death to life, the Church, in every part of the world, calls on its children
to keep watch and pray.”
He will be dressed in
a gold robe, called a chasuble, with a white and gold stole around his neck. On
his head will be a precious gold and white mitre encrusted with jewels. The mitre
style was adopted from the Romans who wore hats that were very similar, and the
chasuble is a variation of the robes worn throughout the Roman Empire.
The colors of the
Pope’s chasuble and mitre are important as colors represent qualities such as
virtue and holiness. The gold color of the Pope’s chasuble symbolizes
what is precious and valuable. It also symbolizes majesty, joy and celebration,
and because of its brightness, metallic gold, like that found on the Pope’s
miter, symbolizes the presence of God.
Under the chasuble Pope
Frances will wear a white robe, but all you will see of it V is a part of the
collar around his neck and the edges of the cuffs under his sleeves. The color
white has long symbolized purity, holiness and virtue, as well as respect and
reverence. It is a color used by the Church for all high Holy Days and
Celebrating Easter at the Vatican
Easter Sunday is joyful.
The Vatican altar is filled with flowers in to celebrate the Resurrection of
Jesus and his Ascension into Heaven. The Pope shares this special day with the
thousands of faithful who gather in St. Peter’s Square to see him. He stands
before the crowd and delivers his message of peace for the Urbi et Orbi (the city and the
world). After the Urbi et Orbi
message, which is broadcast throughout the world, the Pope blesses the crowd.
You can take part in
all of the Easter events, and it is all free. You do need to make reservations
however, including the Sabato Santo (Holy Saturday) mass at the
Vatican. You’ll find information for all events, including Papal audiences
at this web site: to http://www.papalaudience.org/papal-mass
A Keepsake from a Glorious Easter in Rome
Some tour operators
have been known to charge large amounts of money for a Papal audience, but the
truth is the Vatican does not charge for the Papal audiences. They are free. It’s
easy to organize your own visit, you just have to do it well in advance,
as tickets are limited.
It's a good idea to
stay until the end as that is when the Pope blesses everyone in the audience
and those who can’t be there. And if you take medals and rosary beads and other
religious items with you to the audience, you can give them as gifts knowing
that they have received the Pope’s personal blessing. Happy Easter
Italy - It’s not an exaggeration to say that a visit to the Sistine Chapel is a
moving experience. Of all the museums at the Vatican, it is the most popular. About
25,000 people a day, five million people a year, visit the Chapel.
Entrance to the Sistine Chapel
time visitors may be a little surprised by its size. It’s comparatively small,
but when you look up for your first glimpse of Michelangelo’s masterpiece, all
thoughts of size are forgotten.
first, all you see is a jumble of color, after all the famous ceiling is 60
feet above your head. But then, after a second or two, the images start to come
into focus. What you are looking at is 1,200 square feet of more than 300
individual figures, and over 150 separate pictorial works that come together to
tell a story.
The chapel was
originally called the Cappella Magna, and was renamed Cappella Sistina
in 1480 after Pope Sixtus IV had it restored. In 1482, the Pope called together a
team of Renaissance painters, including Sandro Botticelli, to create a series
of frescos showing the Life of Moses and the Life of Christ.
Above the frescoes they painted a set of papal portraits, and the
ceiling was painted a brilliant blue, with a sprinkling of yellow stars.
years later, when there was a new pope, Julius lI, the ceiling cracked. Julius had
it repaired, but then he decided to have it repainted, and he chose
Michelangelo for the job. The Pope wanted to do away with the blue ceiling with
yellow stars, and decorate it with the figures of the 12 apostles. In the
middle section he wanted a design. He didn’t know what that design would be, however,
he was sure he would figure it out by the time Michelangelo finished working on
Portion of Sistine Chapel Ceiling
was furious. He was furious at being summoned, furious because he was a
sculptor, not a painter and furious with the Pope’s suggestion to paint 12
apostles. It was a pathetic choice, he said, dull, ordinary and above all
unworthy of the space.
the end he knew he couldn’t turn down God’s representative on earth, after all
it was the Pope’s private chapel, but he could insist on deciding what he would
paint. He chose the Old Testament as his theme, and divided the space into
sections. He planned to begin with three panels on the Creation.
God Creating the Sun and the Moon
was a risky choice because it meant painting the figure of God. No one had ever
dared to paint God before, He had always been shown as a hand reaching through
the clouds. As God has neither form or gender nor age, it was impossible to
imagine how the artist was going to do this. It is also impossible to know how
the he decided on the image of God, but it was Michelangelo who decided that
God would have a muscular figure, long white hair and a white beard.
artist knew he couldn’t show six full days of the Creation in three images, so he
decided it was better to show the great events and leave the part about the
fish, birds and animals to the viewer’s imagination. As he had to paint the
story backwards, he began with God bringing order out of chaos, separating
light from darkness
God Reaching Out to Adam
the last image, he shows the first stages of creation: God separating the seas
from the earth, and land from the sky, preparing the world for its final
purpose, the creation of man. As God reaches out one life-giving finger to Adam,
who is still half asleep, slowly lifts one drooping finger. It is enough. He
will soon become fully alive both in mind and spirit.
had taken Michelangelo four years to complete the ceiling and he thought his
work was finished. But in 1535, a full 25 years later, much to his surprise, a
new Pope, Pope Clement VII summoned him to return to the Sistine Chapel. He
couldn’t imagine why.
The Prophet Jeremiah
was sixty years old, suffering with arthritis and not anxious to spend his last
years clinging to a scaffold 50 feet in the air. The story that he had painted the
ceiling of the Chapel lying down was simply a myth, but there was no denying
the fact that it had been hard work. It turned out what the Pope wanted was for
him to paint the Resurrection above the altar of the Chapel.
trouble was that there already were frescoes behind the altar, and Michelangelo
did not want to disturb them. He tried to negotiate his way out of the project,
but history repeated itself as it often does, and in the end he gave in. As
before, he did insist that the Pope agree to let him paint what he wanted in
that space, and he wanted the Last Judgment.
The Last Judgment
took five and a half years to complete the Last Judgment, but when a tired, and
work weary Michelangelo stepped away for the last time, what he saw is what we
see today, a Sistine Chapel transformed, a masterpiece that will live forever.
CHIAVARI, Italy - Fashion Week
in Milan is always interesting, but sometimes not for the reasons you might
think. No one can deny that the Milanese have a unique fashion style all their
own, it probably comes from being surrounded by some of the best fashion
designers in the business.
A walk around town, especially
in the area of Via Montenapoleone, will take you past shops selling Gucci,
Ferragamo, Dolce and Gabbana, Armani, Versace, Moschino and yes, even Chanel
and other brave French labels. As the Milanese pass the fashion packed windows
day after day, month after month, they can’t help but be influenced by the
constant reminders that in this town, fashion rules.
Even when fashion buyers and
journalists covering Fashion Week get to Milan, they put a little extra effort
into what they wear. They seem to gain courage just being in town and put away
their little black outfits and opt for something with a little more pizazz.
As for the Milanese, well, when
Fashion Week rolls around, they feel all the more compelled to dress for the
occasion and pull out all the fashion stops. Sometimes the street fashions are just as
interesting, if not more, than what the designers are sending down the runways.
These photos will give you an
idea of what people on the street were wearing during the most recent Fashion
Week in Milan.