Tag Archives: religion

Barcelona – Spain

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Founded as a Roman city, Barcelona became the capital of the County of Barcelona.

After merging with the Kingdom of Aragon, Barcelona continued to be an important city in the Crown of Aragon.

Particularly renowned are the architectural works of Antoni Gaudí and Lluís Domènech i Montaner, which have been designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

The headquarters of the Union for the Mediterranean is located in Barcelona.

The city is known for hosting the 1992 Summer Olympics as well as world-class conferences and expositions and also many international sport tournaments.

It was going to be difficult to top our experiences in Valencia (https://the-tin-man.com/2013/07/23/chapel-of-the-holy-grail-valencia-spain/), but we felt that we must stop in Barcelona.

The Hotel was quite nice and centrally located.

We immediately found the city to be much more dirty than other cities in Spain.

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I know, I know, I know……everyone raves about Barcelona………

…..and a trip there is not complete without a visit to see the works of Antoni Gaudí i Cornet

Gaudí was a Spanish Catalan architect born in Reus, in the Catalonia region of Spain in 1852.

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Much of Gaudí’s work was marked by his big passions in life: architecture, nature, religion.

Gaudí studied every detail of his creations, integrating into his architecture a series of crafts in which he was skilled: ceramics, stained glass, wrought ironwork forging and carpentry.

He introduced new techniques in the treatment of materials, such as trencadís, made of waste ceramic pieces.

After a few years, under the influence of neo-Gothic art and Oriental techniques, Gaudí became part of the Modernista movement which was reaching its peak in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

His work transcended mainstream Modernisme, culminating in an organic style inspired by nature.

Gaudí rarely drew detailed plans of his works, instead preferring to create them as three-dimensional scale models and molding the details as he was conceiving them.

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 Between 1984 and 2005, seven of his works were declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.

Gaudí’s works reflect his highly individual and distinctive style and are largely concentrated in the Catalan capital of Barcelona, notably his magnum opus, the Sagrada Família, his masterpiece, and still-uncompleted ,

is one of the most visited monuments in Catalonia…..so of course we had to go….

…this is when my realization that I did not like Barcelona began to take form..

The walk to the church was through sidewalks strewn with litter and with people bumping into you and panhandlers in the streets…….so very, very different from any other city I have ever visited in Spain…

Then we come upon the Gaudi masterpiece…………

…a carnival atmosphere, shouting, lines of people, tour buses with loud speakers, walking tour guides with bullhorns……….for the love!!!

Then there is the church…………sorry to all you Gaudi lovers…………it is ugly…

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After that visit, I needed a more traditional building……The Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia

The cathedral was constructed from the 13th to 15th centuries, with the principal work done in the 14th century

europe2 130The cathedral is dedicated to Eulalia of Barcelona, co-patron saint of Barcelona, a young virgin who, according to Catholic tradition, suffered martyrdom during Roman times in the city.

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One story says that she was exposed naked in the public square……….

and a miraculous snowfall in mid-spring covered her nudity.

The enraged Romans put her into a barrel with knives stuck into it and rolled it down a street, according to tradition, the one now called Baixada de Santa Eulàlia, see much more traditional.

The body of Saint Eulalia is entombed in the cathedral’s crypt.

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The choir stalls retain the coats-of-arms of the knights of the Order of the Golden Fleece.

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Augustine found that his people had also left their mark in the Cathedral…

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….but wait, there is more…….more Gaudi…now off to Parccount eusebi Guell

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The park was originally part of a commercially unsuccessful housing site, the idea of Count Eusebi Güell, after whom the park was named. It was inspired by the English garden city movement

We did pass this most beautiful entrance to a private home on our walk to the Parc….

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Upon our arrival at the Parc, we were once again taken by the carnival atmosphere…the Parc was filled with vendors, street hawkers and panhandlers….and so very, very dirty and littered with garbage….

…..a World Heritage Site……………..REALLY!

……here are some shots from inside….

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the view was nice….

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Okay off to see more sights….one more Gaudí……

Casa Milà, better known as La Pedrera  (meaning the ‘The Quarry’)

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 the building was designed by  Antoni Gaudí and built during the years 1906–1912. It is located at 92, Passeig de Gràcia

Standing outside the balconies reminded me of Mardi Gras masks…

The work of Gaudí is too whimsical, too hobbit-like, too gnomish and just a bit too creepy for me…

Some other sights around town…

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Then we come upon the Torre Agbar.

According to the designer, the shape of the Torre Agbar was inspired by Montserrat, a mountain near Barcelona,

by the shape of a geyser rising into the air, and by the male genitalia, designed by French architect Jean Nouvel in association with the Spanish firm B720 Arquitectos and built by Dragados.

Jean Nouvel, in an interview, described it as having a phallic character. 

As a result of its unusual shape, the building is known by several nicknames, such as “el supositori” (the suppository), “l’obús” (the shell) and some more scatological ones.

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It is quite striking at night…

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Well we enjoyed our exploration of Barcelona, as we know it holds great memories for many; however, we did not find it enchanting.

…………off to the Train Station and on to France…….

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Church of the Shipwreck of Saint Paul – Valletta, Malta

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On a recent European tour, we spent eight glorious days in the beautiful country of Malta.  It was an amazing journey and we found the Maltese people and culture to be so very wonderful.  In anticipation of a glorious time, we booked an apartment in the oldest part of Valletta, here is the view from our windows……yes,  stunning 180 degree panoramic sea-views of Marsamxett Harbor and Manoel Island, all the way out to the open Mediterranean sea!!!

Perfect for a leisurely dinner with beautiful Maltese wine….

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While searching for places to stay, I found this photo and decided I had found the perfect place!!

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The Tin Man has many stories to tell about the travels in Malta; however, let’s begin with the Church of the Ship Wreck of Saint Paul…..

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It all started with a shipwreck, as told in the book of Acts, about 60 AD while the apostle Paul was en route to Rome.

Boarding an Alexandrian grain freighter on the isle of Crete, a fierce Nor’easter blew the ship off course.

The tiny ship was tossed, it looked like all was lost.

(you should now be hearing the theme from Gilligan’s Island in your head)

The Books of Acts describes the scene as such:

“On the fourteenth night, they were still being driven across the Adriatic sea when the sailors sensed land approaching.   They took soundings and found that the land was 120 feet deep.   A short time later they took soundings again and found that it was 90 feet deep.   Fearing that we would be dashed against the rocks, the sailors dropped four anchors from the stern, and prayed for daylight,”

When daylight came, they did not recognize the land.   But they saw a bay with a sandy beach, where they decided to run the ship aground if they could.   Cutting loose the anchors, they left them in the sea,”

The anchors were discovered by Ray Ciancio in the 1960’s and are on display at the National Maritime Museum

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A Shipwreck’s Impact

With the storm still raging, the ship struck a sandbar, and began to break apart. With the vessel and her cargo a total loss, the nearly 300 men on board swam for their lives.   Miraculously, everyone survived.

Once safely on shore, we found out that the island was called Malta,” the story reveals.

And so began a Christian influence in Malta that has continued down through the centuries.   Today, it is the most religious nation in Europe — 98 percent of its citizens are members of the Catholic Church.

Saint Paul is memorialized throughout the island, no where more than in Saint Paul’s bay,   today tourists come to the Church of the Shipwreck of Saint Paul to see relics of the Saint who was cast ashore on this marvelous island nation….

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While we had planned to visit this church during our stay in Valletta, on this particular day we were in search of Piadina Caffe, the number 2 rated restaurant in Valletta…

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This wonderful Café is owned and operated by a wonderful woman named, Giada….

There are only 3 chairs inside the tiny place and guests are invited to stand or sit on the sidewalk outside

Here is the interior of the entire place…..

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Delightful and Fresh Creations

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We had such a delightful time and returned every chance we had to this very bohemian culinary paradise.

Click HERE to read my review…….

To our delight, we sat on the sidewalk and there directly in front of us was the entrance to the

Church of the Shipwreck of Saint Paul!!

When we finished our delightful luncheon we stepped across the street to explore the church…..

The church hosts fine artistic works, including the magnificent altarpiece by Matteo Perez d’Aleccio

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The Collegiate Parish Church of St Paul’s Shipwreck, also known as simply the Church of St Paul’s Shipwreck, is a Roman Catholic parish church and is one of Valletta’s oldest churches.

 St Paul is considered to be the spiritual father of the Maltese.   His shipwreck is popularly considered as the greatest event in the nation’s history.   For this reason, St Paul’s Collegiate Church is one of the most important in Malta.

The church is incredibly large compared to its humble entrance across from the café.  The inside is packed with all sorts of marvelous art and sculpture.

Here is part of the column on which the saint was beheaded in Rome; you see, he lost his appeal to Caesar and was executed, but his Roman citizenship spared him crucifixion, granting him a more humane beheading instead.

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The choir and dome of Lorenzo Gafà, the paintings by Attilio Palombi, and Giuseppe Calì

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The wooden statue of Paul the Apostle was carved in 1657 by Melchiorre Cafà, the brother of Lorenzo Gafa  who remodeled the church in 1680

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 The statue is paraded through the streets of Valletta on the feast day of St Paul’s Shipwreck, February 10

 One can also view the treasured relic of the right wrist-bone of St Paul……..

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What a delightful time we had wandering these ancient streets……..now it was time to go back to our marvelous apartment, after a few stops at the local markets to buy ingredients for dinner……….oh yes, and more wine!

(http://www.tripadvisor.com/VacationRentalReview-g190328-d2365752-or3-Valletta_Seafront-Valletta_Island_of_Malta.html#REVIEWS)

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 It was a day rich in history and discovery…..just the beginnings of an adventure that would lead us into the bowels of the earth to a Neolithic city over 5,00 years old

we sat and watched the sun set over our beautiful Malta and wondered what tomorrow would bring…..

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The Orientalist

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I am currently reading ” The Orientalist” by Tom Reiss

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A marvelous biography about the flamboyant Lev Nussimbaum

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So often when I am reading, a certain passage will resonate so strongly that I make note of it in my journals

The life of Lev is riveting as he mixes memory with desire, straddles the chasm between east and west and becomes Jew, Christian and Muslim…

You see Lev was born in October, 1905, in Baku, Azerbaijan

…but enough, here is the passage that I so wanted to share with you…

 

“….over the great arched portal ran the secret arabesque symbols of a vanished past.

Mighty, incomprehensible letters and delicate ornaments.

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I looked at them for hours, during which I would fall into a sort of dreamy, trance like meditation.

It was a state of true bliss that lasted for hours and hours.

After I returned home I changed back into my lazy, sickly, good-for-nothing self…”

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Some Papal Facts and Firsts

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The Papal Insignia

The crossed keys symbolise the keys of  Simon Peter.   The keys are gold and silver to represent the power of loosing and binding.   The triple crown represents the pope’s three functions as “supreme pastor”, “supreme teacher” and “supreme priest”.   The gold cross on a crown surmounting the tiara symbolizes the sovereignty of Jesus.

The Pope holds the office and jurisdiction of the Bishop of Rome, who presides over the central government of the Roman Catholic Church.

The term Pope was orginally applied to all the bishops in the West and also used to describe the patriarch of Alexandria, who still retains the title.

In 1073 Pope Gregory VII restricted the use of the title “Pope” to the Bishop of Rome

There have been 266 (possibly 267 read on) Popes

 

St. Peter

Peter was allegedly the first Pope, at least according to Catholic tradition, as well as the one who brought Christianity to Rome

All the evidence indicates; however, that Christianity came to Rome well before he would have and even once there he did not serve as bishop or any sort of leader

 

St. Sixtus I (Xystus)

Pope 115 thru 125

The first known Pope to have also been the son of a priest

During this time period there was no requirement that priests be celibate

St. Victor I

Pope 189 thru 199

First African Pope.  First Pope to attempt to exert authority outside Rome and neighboring communities

He threatened excommunication for anyone who refused to celebrate Easter on Sunday

St. Pontain

Pope 230 thru 235

First Pope to resign his office.  Yes there have been seven Popes to resign the office

Pope Gregory XII was the last Pope to resign in 1417

St. Innocent

Pope 401 thru 417

The first Pope whose father was also a Pope, Anastasius I

Anastasius was married prior to entering the priesthood, had Anastasius’ marriage not been valid, Innocent would have been an illegitimate child and therefore been ineligible for the priesthood

St. Gelasius

Pope 492 thru 496

First Pope to use the title “Vicar of Christ”

Last Pope of African descent

Anastasio II

Pope 496 thru 498

First Pope not to become a Saint

Boniface II

Pope 530 thru 532

First Pope with German Heritage

John II

Pope 533 thru 535

First Pope to adopt a new name when elected.

His given name was Mercurius, a pagan god

St. Silverius

Pope 536 thru 537

First Pope who was subdeacon at the time of his election

Second Pope whose father was also a Pope (Hormisdas)

Pelagius

Pope 556 thru 561

First Pope not actually elected at all – he was appointed by Emperor Justinian

John IV

Pope 640 thru 642

First and Only Pope from Dalmatia

St. Paul I

Pope 757 thru 767

First Pope who succeeded his own brother, Stephen III

Stephen IV

Pope 767 thru 772

First Pope who declared that the laity could not have any voice in the election of Popes anymore

Adrian I

Pope 772 thru 795

Oldest Person EVER elected Pope

Pope Joan  yesssssssss Joan not John

Pope 855 thru 858

First and only female Pope

“John Anglicus, born at Mainz, was Pope for two years, seven months and four days, and died in Rome, after which there was a vacancy in the Papacy of one month.   It is claimed that this John was a woman, who as a girl had been led to Athens dressed in the clothes of a man by a certain lover of hers.   There she became proficient in a diversity of branches of knowledge, until she had no equal, and, afterward in Rome, she taught the liberal arts and had great masters among her students and audience.   A high opinion of her life and learning arose in the city; and she was chosen for Pope. While Pope, however, she became pregnant by her companion.   Through ignorance of the exact time when the birth was expected, she was delivered of a child while in procession from St. Peter’s Basilica to the Lateran, in a lane once named Via Sacra (the sacred way) but now known as the “shunned street” between the Colisseum and Basilica di San Clemente.   After her death, it is said she was buried in that same place.   The Lord Pope always turns aside from the street, and it is believed by many that this is done because of abhorrence of the event.   Nor is she placed on the list of the Holy Pontiffs, both because of her female sex and on account of the foulness of the matter.”

from Martin of Opava’s ”Chronicon Pontificum et Imperatorum”

Adrian II

Pope 867 thru 872

Last married Pope – his wife Setphania and his daughter lived in the Vatican Palace with him

John VIII

Pope 872 thru 882

First Pope to be assassinated : First he was poisoned and then beaten to death, by a relative who wanted his possessions

Boniface VI

Pope 896

When he was elected he had already been defrocked twice because of immoral behavior

Stephen VII

Pope 896 thru 897

Had the body of his predecessor, Pope Formosus, dug up and placed on trial

Upon finding Formosus guilty Stephen had his Papal robes removed and the two fingers (used for the blessing) removed from his right hand

The body was thrown in the Tiber River

After the trial public opinion turned against Stephen and the was overthrown and strangled to death

Sergius III

Pope 904 thru 911

Sergius ordered the death of his predecessor, Pope Leo and the antipope Christopher

John XI

Pope 931 thru 935

First (and presumably only) Pope who was the illegitimate son of a previous Pope (Sergius III)

John XII

Pope 955 thru 963

First and only teenager elected Pope

Was 18 years old at his election and was of such a sex fiend that the Papal Palace became known as a brothel

He is known to have had massive orgies and took particular pleasure in defiling holy sites, like the tombs of Saint Peter and Saint Paul

Leo VIII

Pope 963 thru 964

First Pope who was a layman at the time of his election

John XV

Pope 985 thru 996

First Pope to canonize a saint – Ulrich of Augsburd  in 993

Gregory V

Pope 996 thru 999

First German Born Pope

Sylvester II

Pope 999 thru 1003

First French Pope

Benedict IX

Most Confusing Pontificate in History

He served as Pope three times

He was elected, ejected, returned, abdicated, deposed, returned again, ejected again and eventually excommunicated

 

 

Hope you enjoyed this quick looks at Papal Firsts

Should you be interested in more Papal History, here are some interesting resources:

http://www.somethingawful.com/d/most-awful/popes-cadaver-synod.php?page=2

http://www.usnews.com/usnews/doubleissue/mysteries/pope.htm

http://www.funtrivia.com/en/Religion/Popes-17490.html

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12272b.htm