Thursday, September 17, 2009

Santa Maria de Fiore

Holy Mary of the Flower - that is, Christ - is the beautifully named and superlatively beautiful Duomo, that is, cathedral, of Florence. As the guide pamphlet pointed out, Duomo comes from domus, "house" - it is the House of God and His people, a house of prayer for all the nations. I was delighted to note on the leaflet that there is in this archdiocese an office for "catechesis through art": beauty is truth, truth beauty...
There must be a real effort being made to revive religion: here is the schedule of devotions there:


  • Masses at 7.30, 8.30, 9.30 (concelebrated by the Chapter of canons), 10.30 and 11.30 am (the last two in the Baptistery), and at 6 pm;

  • Office of Readings and Lauds (celebrated by the Chapter - imagine that in Australia!) at 8 am;

  • Confessions 9 am to 12 noon, and 4-6.30 pm daily (in four or more languages);

  • Rosary (or Vespers on feasts of Our Lord and His Mother) at 5.30 pm.

Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation

  • Masses at 7.30, 9 and 10.30 am (in Latin with Gregorian chant, concelebrated by the Cathedral Chapter), at 12 noon and at 6 pm;

  • Lauds at 10 am (very civilized);

  • Vespers (in Gregorian chant) at 5.30 pm;

  • Confessions as above.

It turned out to be very useful to carry a Breviary, since it proved I was a bona fide Catholic and not a godless tourist, thus allowing me to gain access in all churches to the large parts roped off for prayer. This began at the Duomo, which I then left in order to visit and pray in many other sanctuaries.


At last I found a church (I forget the name) where St Philip appeared shyly in the corner of a painting above a side altar, and later saw an outdoor image of the Blessed Virgin with him at her feet (in memory of a former Oratory on that site).


In San Lorenzo, I found the sacred relics of Bl Niels Stensen (1638-1686), a famously learned Danish doctor who came to Tuscany and converted to the Catholic faith, moved by the witness of a Corpus Christi procession (let Modernists take note!). He gradually put aside his scientific researches, and ended up a priest, then a bishop, who laboured in northern Germany, aiding Catholics and converting Protestants. The Grand Duke of Tuscany had his former court physician brought back to Florence for burial; he was beatified in 1988.
May he intercede for Christian unity, and in particular for Lutherans and ex-Lutherans!


At St Remigius, I found the venerated habit and cord of St Pio of Pietrelcina exposed for veneration - excellent.


Then, off, all too soon, back to Rome...

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