Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Catholic’

I have a lot of copies of the picture books on hand:

Bambinelli Sunday (thinking ahead!)

Adventures in Assisi

Friendship with Jesus

Be Saints"amy welborn"

At this point, I still have copies that will be signed by both illustrator Ann Engelhart and me.  

Let me say a word in support of the last two books. Potential purchasers and gift-givers might be hesitating to purchase these books because they feature, not the current Pope, but Pope Emeritus Benedict, and hence seem dated.

They’re not!

The content is simply the words of Benedict – in the case of Be Saints  – interspersed with quotes from saints – go to the link to see sample pages  – explaining the Eucharist or holiness.  The illustrations center on contemporary children doing things children do – playing, learning, praying.

So take a look!

Also, if you would are interested in buying any of these books in bulk, email me and we can talk about special pricing.

(Also…new Catholic gift? Confirmation? Mother’s Day?)

Read Full Post »

Our last full day in Madrid….having said goodbye to our daughter/sister the day before (crazy girl got back to her abode Saturday night, worked on Sunday, then jumped back on the train to Munich Sunday night to catch Birmingham-rooted band St. Paul and the Broken Bones in a concert there….)

I had hoped to get up early and perhaps hit an 8:30 Mass, purportedly being celebrated at San Francisco el Grande…

(The earliest Mass I could find even sort of close in Madrid….it seemed to me that in most churches, the earliest Sunday morning Mass was 11.)

But you know what happened, right?

Madrilenos streaming in waves under my window until 3AM…all about that bass from that club down the block…so I didn’t awake until 9 or so.  Oh, well…what happens, happens, and there’s always a reason. I don’t get stressed (much) about scheduling and plans during travel anymore. There’s so much to see, and if you miss what you planned to see…there’s always something else to see, isn’t there? And it’s not as if there’s only one interesting church in Madrid, Spain.

So, once I roused everyone, we headed to ……another church on my list. San Antonio de los Alemanes.  Every wall and the ceiling was extravagantly painted, which was a bit of a change from the usual Spanish baroque pattern of carved, decorated main and side altars.  We arrived about ten minutes after the schedule Mass time, at which point, the priest was well into his homily, which he continued for quite a while.  There were, as was the case the previous Sunday at another church, about thirty in attendance.

"amy welborn"

They must be restoring the sanctuary.

"amy welborn"

We made a brief stop back at the apartment, then continued on (walking) to the National Archaeological Museum (in the same building as the Biblioteca Nacional). It was a free admission day, so the line to get in was quite long – about halfway down the block – but moved quickly, so in about twenty minutes, we were in. (Which was good, because it was after noon, and the museum was to close at 3).

It was an excellent museum.  One of the best of its type I’ve ever visited.  I’m not kidding – it’s a model for others, I’d say.

You begin (if you like) by gathering in front a large relief map of Spain.  Above the map, a series of slides is shown, slides that move through all the eras covered in the museum.  As an era and its characteristics are flashed on the screen, the relevant sites light up on the map.  From prehistory through the Bronze Age through Roman Hispania through the modern era, it was an engaging overview.

From there, you tour the quite extensive collection which is curated and displayed with an eye to historical progression and clarity.  All placards are offered in both Spanish and English.  The video offerings which introduce each era are quite sophisticated and not at all lame, as you might sometimes find in a museum.  Honestly, if you’re going to Madrid, I’d make this museum your #2 stop after the Prado, even before the other art museums. It’s that well done, and it gives you such a valuable understanding of Spanish history and the Spanish self-understanding.

"amy welborn"

These were bronze tablets erected in towns by Romans displaying various laws and statues.

"amy welborn" "amy welborn" "amy welborn" "amy welborn" "amy welborn" "amy welborn"

We could have stayed longer, but of course the place closed at 3. I wish we’d gone earlier in the week and had given it more time – we saw probably 3/4 of the place.  So we ate lunch, then headed back to the Prado.  I had purchased a “visit twice in one year” ticket the first time, and children are free, so why not?

We caught some pieces we’d missed, primarily the wing dedicated to Venetians, revisited Ribera, Velasquez and Bosch, and found the back hallway dedicated to an exhibit called, “Hoy Toca el Prado,” in which a few paintings from the collection are reproduced in a sort of relief, for the benefit of the blind. It’s received some international press, but was actually quite small, and, as I said, off in a side hallway, so…good work, Prado marketing!

"amy welborn"

Appropriately, a painting about Vulcan. (there’s a Birmingham connection…look it up.)

"amy welborn"

Then…..back to the Puerto del Sol, Plaza Mayor and parts around and in between to pick up some more souvenirs and just soak it all in….

"amy welborn"

The big stuff is great, but it’s the smaller corners that say “Europe” to me, and that I remember most.

"amy welborn" "amy welborn"

Read Full Post »

We arrived back safe and sound Monday evening, only to be greeted Tuesday morning with the sobering news of a tragic crash in the Alps – not even on our route, and not our airline, but still…it certainly gives one pause, especially if you are one who has to give yourself the “Think how many flights there are every single day” pep talk when you fly…especially in the moments when the wheels noisily retract and the engines shift to cruising mode or whatever it is they do, but that feels like all the machinery has just stopped operating…

*******

I don’t think I’ve posted since Friday.  I’ll do Saturday here, then Sunday in another post.

My daughter was returning to Germany Saturday afternoon, but we still had a couple of hours to be with her before she jumped on the Metro with her suitcase at noon.

So, to save time, we took a taxi (and it only cost one Euro more than it would have taken us all to ride the Metro) out to the Temple of Debod, which had been located on land flooded as a result of the Aswan Dam. (Another temple relocated for the same reason is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC).  It was a brief, but interesting stop.  The location is well-done and the upper floor of the main building has been outfitted with educational presentations done in the excellent way I experienced in every Spanish museum.  They really do that hi-tech stuff well.

"amy welborn"

Looking from the main temple building

"amy welborn"

From there, we walked to San Antonio de la Florida Chapel, which features wonderful paintings – including the dome portraying a scene of St. Anthony raising a man from the dead – by Goya, and is where he is buried.

"amy welborn"

Um…a lovely walk, yes?

"amy welborn"

The chapel in sight.

As we walked up, I saw well-dressed people getting out of cars and heading in the same direction, and we thought, “Oh no…wedding,” and yes there was, but  in the other chapel – they built a chapel for parish use next to the original, so the original could be seen by all, no matter if services were going on or not.

(No photos of the interior were allowed….not even for the puppet show that was being set up. For some reason.)

"amy welborn" "amy welborn" "amy welborn"

Then another taxi back to the apartment, a quick lunch at the wonderful Mercado San Anton – one block from our apartment – and farewell to the sister….

…at which point we headed out again, back west (on the Metro this time) to the Museo de America.  It was closing at 3, so we had to hurry.

It was, as you’d expect, a good collection of artifacts from the Maya, Aztec, Inca, as well as from the Colonial period – although the collection at the Met in New York is even more impressive.  I was most interested in the period paintings depicting colonial life, especially those highlighting – as a positive – the mixed-race aspect of family life in Spanish America.  And although all the placards were in Spanish, it was still evident enough to me that the perspective offered on the Spanish conquest of the Americas was…different than what you would probably find in a museum in this hemisphere. I didn’t see any hand-wringing or much – if any – mention of disease or exploitation.

Anyway, the Maya-mad 10-year old enjoyed himself!

It was only 3 pm that point, but it was rainy, so my hope of doing bikes in the park the city of Madrid built over a highway tunnel, were dashed. Instead, we headed east to the Naval Museum, which is free.  (Although note –  they will ask for a donation anyway, and the fellow who took mine, clearly didn’t feel that 4 Euros was enough to support the Spanish Navy). I had very good memories of the stunning maritime museum in Barcelona, and while this would certainly be interesting to people who are…well…interested…in matters maritime, it was less so to us.  Lots of scale models, lots of paintings of admirals, some mastheads, which were great, and the highlight of the collection - this, drawn by Juan de la Cosa, who accompanied Columbus on his three exhibitions, the first map showing the western hemisphere, made in 1500, and perhaps even used to explain matters to Isabella and Ferdinand.  That was awe-inspiring to see. Between that and the hand-written manuscripts by Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross…we were ridiculously close to some great stuff on this trip.

(But we did look in vain for references to a certain event that occurred in 1588…..)

Back to the apartment, then I went out in search of food, returning with an odd assortment of a roast chicken, arancini, and bread. Huh. After they ate, I headed out alone back to the Puerta del Sol area to do some undistracted surveying for the final Souvenir Push on Sunday!

******

A note on our taxi drivers.  First, it is incredibly easy to hail a taxi in Madrid. They are everywhere, and happy to take you wherever you need to go.

(When we were in New York City last summer, I hailed a cab because we were dead tired and just wanted to get back to the hotel, which was maybe 8 blocks away – I told the guy through the window where we were going and he snorted, said something unintelligible and drove away.  Someone told me later to not tell them where you are going until you are actually in the car, since at that point they are prohibited from turning the customer away. Lesson learned.)

The fellow on the way over to the Temple was taciturn, which is obviously fine with me.  The driver on the way back was way more talkative, but what he had to say was intriguing.  My daughter was sitting in the front seat, and he handed her a small volume of bound pictures – his art, he said (after telling us that his wife is Brazilian, and how much he wants to visit America). He went on to tell us that he had a religious conversion – that he had never paid much attention to his religion, until something happened, and he came to understand how important faith in Jesus is, and “He changed my heart.”

He tends to do that, yes?

Read Full Post »

The day began and (sort of) ended with people lined up, crowded in, to catch a glimpse, touch and be close.

We set out down the Gran Via with one end in mind, but were distracted by a crowd at an H & M across the road, obviously gathered to see Someone. A web search led me to believe that it might be David Beckham. We asked someone, “Quien es?” and she answered, “Beck-hahm,” an assertion affirmed by various other Spaniards around us, and finally by an Englishman who nodded and said he’d seen it on the news.

So…why not wait?  We did, probably for too long, but you get to a point at which you say, “Well, we’ve waited this long….” He finally arrived in a jet black minivan, but since we were, you know, across the road and the black minivan didn’t move right away, and there were crowds…we didn’t see him, although my daughter thinks she caught the top of his head.

So.

(Here’s a story about the appearance.)

We then changed directions and headed over to the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, the last of the triad (after the Prado and the Reina Sofia). It is a good, representative collection, arranged chronologically, so following it from the top floor down, you get a succinct history of European and American art from 14th-century Italy to a little past Lichtenstein. A few favorites – I am not one to take photos in art museums, even when it is allowed. I know that there are better images online or in books that I can manage, so I usually don’t bother except as a form of note-taking for future reference.

"amy welborn"

This is called The Virgin of the Dry Tree.  The reference is to a Confraternity of the Dry Tree, which in turn is probably a reference to Ezekiel, and then, the tree of the Garden that brought death, which Jesus will restore to life.

"amy welborn"

The Risen Christ by Bramantino, 15th century, but strikingly contemporary.

"amy welborn"

Annunciation to St. Anne. Go read about it – quite interesting.

"amy welborn"

Now, this is attributed to Gilbert Stuart, and is called Portrait of George Washington’s Cook, although apparently there is some speculation involved in this identification. But George Washington did have a cook in Philadelphia, his name was Hercules, and he was enslaved – more here, including the story of his escape from slavery in Mount Vernon. 

After the museum and lunch, we walked back over to a church we’d seen beforehand, a church with an impressive line of people snaking into it. What was that about?

"amy welborn"

The line leading into the church.

"amy welborn"

…and to the other side of the block.

Well, it was this – Jesus of Medinaceli – a statue stolen by Moors, then retrieved. It is venerated, apparently, on Fridays.

amy-welborn

The statue is on that top level. People walk up the stairs to venerate it.

"amy welborn"

A full church, organ playing in the background.
"amy welborn"

Let’s see. Church open all day – so all are welcome to enter into this place and be a part of what is going on. Loads of people, from everywhere and anywhere, bringing the totality of their lives, joys and pain. Looking at the schedule of this basilica, we see Mass several times a day, every day, and Confessions off and on all day, every day.

Open doors. Open to anyone.

Anyone can walk in and see, listen, touch and be moved by grace.

No one judges and no one excludes because here, all eyes are fixed on Christ, and when we are all looking in His direction, the supposed flaws of our neighbor recede from our sight.

Why do they come?

Seeking mercy, perhaps?

And finding it in ancient sacraments and traditions grown out of centuries of spiritual experience and reflection?

Because mercy wasn’t invented this week, perhaps?

****

By this time, it was around five, perhaps later, so we just wound our way back home, through the neighorhood of Santa Ana, which I hope to revisit tomorrow or the next day, back up through the Puerta de Sol, to the other mass of El Corte Ingles stores…this time we found the branches selling clothes and toys, so time to split up and see what the Spanish have to offer. (We must always do Lego comparisons). I also looked through the grocery store in the basement and decided that will probably be the place where I do my take-home food shopping this weekend – it really is too bad that cured meats aren’t allowed back in the US…no jamon or chorizo….sigh.

I also discovered a great store called Tiger - it’s sort of a cross between a dollar-type store and Ikea.  Low prices (from 1-4 E on most things) and sharp, clean, colorful design sensibility.

***

Also, while I knew, in theory, that Holy Week was a big deal in Spain…I see now that I didn’t know anything at all, really. It’s a big deal. There was a display table in the book section of El Corte Ingles with books, videos and CD’s about Semana Santa. I’ve seen children’s coloring and sticker books about it. On the first afternoon we were here, we saw a huge, rectangular block being borne out of a chapel door by a group of men…we had no idea what it was at the time, but know I now it was one of those platforms to carry statuary – it was completely covered in protective tarps and so on, but I’m assuming they were carting it somewhere to get it ready for Holy Week….

(Related…Valencia celebrates St. Joseph’s feastday in a huge way, and I was halfway tempted to head over there this week to take a peek…well, actually less than halfway, because it’s far from here and the crowds are huge..but still…tempted.)

"amy welborn"

\

Read Full Post »

This painting was in a side chapel in the Segovia Cathedral:

(Click on the image to enlarge it)

DSC_0778

So…there we are on top of the tree, partying. (It’s the Feast of St. Joseph, so yes, here in Europe, we are partying). There’s death, about to take us down.

There’s Jesus, poised to ring the warning bell.

And there’s the little devil, trying to cut the rope and silence the bell so we’ll just keep on partying…..

Read Full Post »

Today, we headed to Segovia.

"amy welborn"

I had gone back and forth on this one because every time I checked, the weather forecast changed. If it was going to be quite rainy in Madrid and okay in Segovia, we’d go…but then the forecast would tell me that it was going to be okay in Madrid and rainier in Segovia..or it was going to be quite rainy in both (in which case, we’d stay here and do museums).

It finally settled, mid-morning on a “40% chance of light rain” forecast for Segovia, so that seemed worth the risk…and I’m very glad we went, because it ended up being a lovely, rain-free afternoon.

How did we get there? Well, my intention had been to take the high speed train up and back. We reached the Chamartin station, and by the time I finally got to a ticketing person (the machines wouldn’t take my cards…of course), the one I reached didn’t speak a word of English, we didn’t really understand each other, and he sold me four one-way tickets to Segovia, rather than the round-trip I’d wanted.

We’ll figure that out later.

The train ride up was quick and smooth, much of it through tunnels and one starting section through fairly heavy snowfall.

The AVE station is 6 km outside of Segovia, but the buses are coordinated to await the coming trains, so all you do is pay your Euro and hop on, for a twenty minute ride into town.

Segovia is famous for its magnificent Roman aqueduct…and it is certainly something.

"amy welborn" "amy welborn"

As is the Cathedral,  constructed in what is termed the “Flamboyant Gothic” style.

"amy welborn"

You turn the corner and…

"amy welborn"

The odd thing is that the actual worship space (as we say) takes up a relatively small area in the middle of the cathedral – the rest of it being consumed by a gorgeous choir area with two stunning organs and then, of course, lots and lots of side chapels.

"amy welborn" "amy welborn"

Including a Blessed Sacrament with a lovely tabernacle and altar obviously carefully designed to complement the normative aesthetic. (You probably have to click on the photo to enlarge it to see.)

"amy welborn"

Then to the castle, mostly reconstructed, but still mildly interesting, mostly for the room which holds bas-relief painted statues of all the monarchs of the Reconquest.  And the ceilings, which were gorgeous.

More storks!

"amy welborn" "amy welborn"

By then it was 2, so it was time for lunch. Segovia’s local culinary claim to fame is conchilla, or roast suckling pig. I didn’t go seeking it, but the odd little restaurant where we ended up – tables on the second floor, dish and condiment story on the first, in full view of the street, kitchen in parts unknown – had it on the menu, so we tried it, and yes, it was excellent.

Then down the hill to the  Iglesia de la Vera Cruz, built by the Knights Templar in that signature roundish style.

DSC_0784

I was surprised that it wasn’t open on the inside, which I had expected. There was, rather, a two-level room built in the middle of the structure, with an altar and a couple of niches on the second level – I wondered if this is where the relic of the True Cross had been kept.

"amy welborn" "amy welborn" "amy welborn" "amy welborn"

Then down and around to the Convent of the Discalced Carmelites, founded by St. John of the Cross, and where his remains now lie. (You can watch a short video of Fr. Robert Barron and Fr. Steve Grunow in front of this tomb, discussing the importance of the saint.)

DSC_0801 "amy welborn" "amy welborn" "amy welborn"

Then back. We didn’t take the train on the return because there’s a direct bus to Madrid that was right in town, so it would require one less step.  In addition, the metro at the bus stop is a little closer to us than the metro at the AVE train station, so total time, despite the fact that the bus was an hour, wasn’t that much more. And it was a different experience.

So…we left the apartment at about 10:30 AM, and were back by 8..a full day, yes?

"amy welborn"

Always leave time and space for running….

Read Full Post »

Yesterday was a day trip to Alcala de Hernares, the birthplace of Cervantes.

The University of Alcala:

"amy welborn"

Statue of Cervantes in the main square:

"amy welborn"

Storks nesting on every height:

"amy welborn"

Baptismal font where Cervantes was baptized.  Baptismal record is on the wall behind it.

"amy welborn"

Cervantes birthplace, now a little sort of museum.

"amy welborn" "amy welborn"

The local pastry:

"amy welborn"

Special exhibit on St. Teresa of Jesus at the Biblioteca Nacional:

"amy welborn"

Manuscript of The Way of Perfection….in Teresa’s own hand.  There were several artifacts like this, as well as some written by John of the Cross.

"amy welborn"

St. Isidore of Seville, outside the library."amy welborn" "amy welborn"

Pulpit, St. Barbara’s Church"amy welborn" "amy welborn"

Carmelites visiting the exhibit.

"amy welborn"

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: