venerdì 19 giugno 2015

Do as the Romans do

In the heart of the Roman centre, while cars and motorbikes and buses roar their neverending roar and people come an go, in everyday frenzy, as it is in every other city in the world, in the beautifully simple Palazzo Venezia, the Palace of the venetian cardinal Paolo Barbo, who was to become Pope in the end of the Fifteenth century bearing the name of Paul the II,  a lovely garden sleeps its peaceful slumber, hidden in all its renaissance grace in the heart of hearts of the Popes once house, now a museum.
It is shaped exactly like a Roman viridarium, hidden inside walls as the soul is hidden in the body. It is a dream come true, the loveliest gift for people who like to see Rome in its true face, not rushing from the Colosseum to the Vatican museum seeing too much and understanding little. I took there, during one of my spiritual walks, a little group, some time ago. And while, us four, happy priviledged four, were there in all that beauty, the bells of Saint Mark (the once private basilica of the Pope) started chiming, and ding dong, ding dong, in the silence and in that sweet green, as if time had stopped and we, we priviledged four, lived  for a long, long minute, in times that are forlon and that caress heart and soul…
Please contact me if you are coming to Rome. Spiritual walks, Food walks, shopping walks, doing just as the Romans do. I will find the right thing for you!. Benedetta

domenica 14 giugno 2015

In between pots and pans

On the top of the Esquilino hill, which was, in the days of the Divus Augustus, a cemetery for slaves (where the poet Horatius went to see the witches making their horrid spells)… in a little secluded street off Piazza Santa Maria Maggiore, there is the magnificent Basilica of Santa Prassede. I do not want to make the list of the treasures hidden in this shy but beautiful church, but only tell you the story of the saint to whom the church is dedicated. She was one of two sisters born of a senatorial family. Their father, Pudente, was a great friend of Saint Pauls and such a rich and important man was he that his home (full of gardens and even baths) sloped down from the Esquilino hill towards what is now the cool Monti area. It all belonged to him and to his two daughters who were slaughtered because Christians. Little of very little remains of their vivid memory and martyrdom (meaning being a witness), all saints, who knows why, become statues and bits of paper and loose life and light. What a pity! Where blood and the fire of love used to consume soul and body, only the dust of time has remained…

So very true this is that when, during my spiritual tours, I talk to my guests telling them the stories of, let’s say, Saint Teresa of Avila, their eyes open up in wide bewilderment when I tell them that the beautiful Teresa, while a kid, run away from home together with her brother to join the crusades. Her parents brought them back home and maybe, probably even, spanked her for running away… Yes, the great Saint, the Doctor of the Church was also a naughty little girl, as she said, yes a mystic, “in between pots and pans".
This masterpiece by Lorenzo Lotto shows Mary in the fright of becoming the mother of God. Pleae note the terrified cat running away,  in awe, while God enters Mary's room

martedì 2 giugno 2015

Angels in Rome

When in Rome, you might like to look out for the angels that, here and there, open their flauncy, white wings on the City of the Pontifs to envelop and enbrace us all and bring us up towards God and our salvation, back to the gardens of a Paradise now lost in this topsy turvy world we are living in. Yes, angels are everywhere in Rome. The one on top of the Castel Sant’Angelo is, I migh say, the highest one of all, ready to fly away, back to where he belongs... There he is, little in the distance, yet powerful as he is towering the Holy City of Rome. He is Saint Michel, one of the three Archangels,  in the action of putting his flaming sward back in its scabbard. Why, you might ask? The reason is a terrible pestilence which had broken and devasted Rome and its inhabitants in the late VII Century (Pope Gregory the Great sitting on the Holy See…), disappeared as the Archangel appeared, in all its mystical glory, to Pope and Romans right on top of Adrian’s Tomb. The pestilence gone, the sward back home…
But you will not find Saint Michel in the beautiful church of Sant’Andrea della Valle, where a very special chapel sings the eternal mystery of the angelical creatures. One masterpiece, forgotten who know why, is Pomarancio’s picture telling the story of God giving Saint Gabriel, Archangel, the command to fly down to earth and tell Mary that she will bear his son. We are used to seing Gabriel in the act of performing his duty, with the sacred lilium, pure as pure can be and Mary in the act of accepting her divine fate. But, the before painted by Pomarancio is so sweet and glorious that one – me for instance - can sit in front of the picture for hours on end and still want to look again and again the everlasting mystery of God made true…

When in Rome, join me for a three hours spiritual walk, contact me: I'll be happy to give you all the details needed.