Monday, April 29, 2013

The Baptismal Pilgrimage Continues: Siena, Pistoia, Lucca

Monday greetings from Siena, Italy. Arrived here on Saturday. What a treasure Siena is! Holding off touring the immense baptistery here and more Catholic sites until later today and tomorrow morning, before leaving for the East Coast, Ravenna.

So much to share this morning. I have had my heart set on visiting Siena for many years and this is like a dream come true. Happened upon a wonderful concert in the Duomo on Saturday evening. The concert was dedicated to Saint Catherine (of Siena), patroness of Italy and of all of Europe.

Went to early morning Mass at 8:00 yesterday at the Duomo here. This cathedral is indescribably beautiful, inside and out. Unfortunately, there was no music at this early Mass and there were perhaps forty of us filling this enormous space. Not sure if this is their custom here, especially with handling tourist crowds, but the priest consecrated one host and we all received communion from a ciborium he retrieved from the tabernacle.

After Mass, headed north to Pistoia and Lucca, to visit two important baptism spaces. Pistoia, a not-so-well-known treasure, has a large piazza in front of the cathedral. Directly across from the front doors, at about 200 feet, is the door to the free standing baptistery.

This placement I see as a theological statement. In order to "get in" the doors of the church, one must first "go through" the baptistery. Open the main door after baptism and head directly into the cathedral.

Stopped by a neighboring church and captured this video at the end of Mass:

In Lucca, the Duomo of San Giovanni has archaeological excavations that reveal three layers of usage of various buildings, dating back to 200 B.C.

There is one baptism font from the Middle Ages, but beneath it, in two other layers, are two additional fonts, the original dating from the 4th or 5th century.

For a "baptism geek" like me, yesterday was exhilarating. This "vacation" has really been a pilgrimage, a pilgrimage "without" to Italy and a pilgrimage "within," to a renewed sense of the gift of my own baptism and my own connection to millions of Christians who were baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

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