Milan a city of faith and death

We spent several days in Milan.  The city is a mixture of celebration of the Roman Catholic faith and honoring the dead.  The Milan Cathedral is a magnificent example of  Italian Gothic architecture.  In 1386 the church was started and was not finished until 1965. It is the largest church in Italy.Milan cathedral netThe main doors outside the cathedral have wonderful bronze  sculptures that illustrate the bible stories designed by Italian sculptor Ludovico Pogliaghi .

Milan Cathedral door images net

Joseph and Mary marry

 

So many exquisite works of art inside the cathedral like these marble saints.Milan Cathedral saints net

And the body of St. Carlo Borromeo who was the archbishop of Milan in 1564 to 1684.  It is in a crystal coffin in the crypt of the church.  It is the site of pilgrims who come to pray for the saint’s help.

Milan Saint Carlo Borromeo net

His face is made of silver

The monumental cemetery in Milan is one of europe’s best.  The sculptures and grave stones are artistic and creative.  This is one of my favorites; a woman expressing profound grief.milan monumental cemetery grief netI will say that the majority of the statues are women expressing grief at the passing of their husbands.  Though there were some honoring women and children who have passed.milan monumental cemetery woman netThere is also a sense of deeply felt faith even in sorrow.milan monumental cemetery grief woman net

 

milan monumental cemetery girl net

 

And this grave stone which is an abstract.milan monumental cemetery abstract netThe city is a combination of faith and death.

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Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris; graves of Jim Morrison and Oscar Wilde

We had an afternoon to spend in the famous Pere Lachaise cemetery here in Paris.  It is a remarkable city of the dead.  We will be going back before we leave because 2 hours was not enough time to take some of the photographs that I wanted to take.  This cemetery was founded in 1804 when the city of Paris needed more room to bury the dead. Pere Lachaise is the largest cemetery in the city of Paris.  Père Lachaise Cemetery has more than 3.5 million visitors, making it the most visited cemetery in the world.

 

Many famous people who died in Paris are buried here.   The most famous and the most visited  is the tomb of Jim Morrison of the Doors.

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Jim Morrison’s grave, died 1997 in Paris

Pere Lachaise Edith Piaf 5x7 net

Edit Piaf, famous Parisian singer

Pere Lachaise Oscar Wilde 5x7 net

Oscar Wilde’s grave  

There were many French Jewish families that were sent to German concentration camps when Germany occupied France during WWII.  There are several memorials to these innocent French citizens in the graveyard.  Here are a couple of them;

Pere Lachaise memorial jewish 5x7 net

Memorial to the children killed by the Nazis

Holocaust victims Paris 2 5x7 net

memorial to the people killed in concentration camps

holocaust memoria lParis 5x7 net

And on a much lighter note; here is the grave of Victor Noir.   He was a French journalist who is famous for the manner of his death and the sculpture that lies on top of his grave.   I could not think of a good way to word this description so I will let Wikipedia do it for me.

“A life-sized bronze statue was sculpted by Jules Dalou to mark his grave, portrayed in a realistic style as though he had just fallen on the street, dropping his hat which is depicted beside him.

The sculpture has a very noticeable protuberance in Noir’s trousers. This has made it one of the most popular memorials for women to visit in the famous cemetery. Myth says that placing a flower in the upturned top hat after kissing the statue on the lips and rubbing its genital area will enhance fertility, bring a blissful sex life.”  As you can see from the wearing away of the crotch area, many women have taken up the idea since he died in 1870.Pere chaise Victor Noir 5x7net

Over one million people have been buried here and there are many famous French politicans, inventors and artists who are scattered among many family mausoleums.  It is a cemetery that has many monuments and statues to commemorate the dead.   Here are some of the more interesting photographs that I took.

Pere Lachaise child writing 5x7 net

Pere Lachaise angel 5x7 net

Pere Lachaise woman grief 5x7 net

Pere Lachaise statue 5x7 netPere Lachaise mother and child 5x7 net

And we found one live woman practicing her clarinet in the middle of the monuments.  The music was enchanting.Pere Lachaise girl clarinet 5x7netMore views of Paris to follow.

Dublin’s cemeteries: Mount Jerome and Glasnevin

I am fascinated by old cemeteries.  Some of the monuments that people choose to memorialize their loved ones tell a story about who those people were when they were living.  In Dublin we have visited two cemeteries,  Mount Jerome and Glasnevin. They both have different but fascinating stories that helped me to understand the sometimes sad and valiant  stories of the Irish nation.

Since its foundation in 1836, Mount Jerome has witnessed over 300,000 burials. Originally an exclusively Protestant cemetery, Roman Catholics  have also been buried there since the 1920s.  It is an older monument type of cemetery.  There are many angels pointing the deceased to heaven,mt jerome angel 5x7 netmt jerome pointing angel 5x7 bw netin case the loved one might have lost their way to their heavenly reward.  There are many praying angels (perhaps for those who the living are afraid they have lost their way). mt jerome praying angel closer 5x7_netBut the one I liked the most was this giant dog on top of a monumental grave howling to the sky.  Whether he is missing his master or protecting him it is hard to tell.mt jerome dog full 5x7 bw net

The Glasnevin Cemetery has a more national pride vibe.  This is a description from Wikipedia of the desperate circumstances that the Roman Catholics (who were the majority of the people living in Ireland) were reduced to when trying to bury their dead. “Prior to the establishment of Glasnevin Cemetery, Irish Catholics had no cemeteries of their own in which to bury their dead and, as the repressive Penal Laws of the eighteenth century placed heavy restrictions on the public performance of Catholic services, it had become normal practice for Catholics to conduct a limited version of their own funeral services in Protestant churchyards or graveyards. This situation continued until an incident at a funeral held at St. Kevin’s Churchyard in 1823 provoked public outcry when a Protestant sexton reprimanded a Catholic priest for proceeding to perform a limited version of a funeral mass.[2] The outcry prompted Daniel O’Connell, champion of Catholic rights, to launch a campaign and prepare a legal opinion proving that there was actually no law passed forbidding praying for a dead Catholic in a graveyard. O’Connell pushed for the opening of a burial ground in which both Irish Catholics and Protestants could give their dead dignified burial.”  This was not that long ago.  Daniel O’Connell is buried in this graveyard underneath a very tall round tower.O Connells grave 5x7 net We paid for a tour (€10 each) and got to go into his crypt under the tower.  We had an excellent tour guide Niall who told us all the stories of the National heroes who are buried in this cemetery.Glasnevin cemetary guide Niall net  This photo was taken in the O’Connell crypt.  One of the creepier things was that in a room adjacent to O’Connell’s tomb, there is a pile of caskets stacked up.Glasnevin cemetery Oconnell coffins netThese caskets belong to direct decedents of the great man who want to be buried with him.  There is only one caveat,  only their bodies can be stored here.  No wife, child, husband or auntie allowed to be with them.  I believe there are only 9 decedents who have decided to take the cemetery up on their offer. So far. And there is not much room left.

The most famous Irish hero buried here is Michael Collins ( yes, that man in the movie Michael Collins).Michael Collins grave 5x7 netThere are always fresh flowers on his grave and there is a mysterious French woman who comes every year to say a prayer and put flowers on his grave.  This is what the site IrishCentral has to say about her.” A mysterious French lady will visit Michael Collins’ grave once again this year (2016) , continuing a 15-year tradition since she fell in love with the Irish revolutionary after watching the movie “Michael Collins”. She is known as the “Mysterious French Lady” and she appears like clockwork at his grave and lays them down gently before saying a prayer. The woman has been identified as Veronique Crombie, a lecturer at the French National Museum who admits to a passionate love for the Irish revolutionary.”

Here are some other photographs of the graves in this giant cemetery.Glasnevin cemetery celtic cross 5x7 netgrave angel old 5x7 netThe Irish are very good at honoring their recent political heroes who fought so hard to secure their rights and to make their homeland a free Republic.

Pisa, Italy: a visit to the Leaning Tower of Pisa in the Field of Miracles, Campo dei Miracoli

We took the bus from Lucca to Pisa today (6 euros each for a round trip). It took about one hour to get there.  It was hot today; 86 degrees and humid.  Not the best time to sightsee but that is what the weather can be like here in Northern Italy.  The bus dropped us off right in front of the big gate into the “wide walled area located in Pisa, Tuscany, Italy, recognized as an important center of European medieval art and one of the finest architectural complexes in the world. Considered a sacred area by its owner, the Catholic Church, the square is dominated by four great religious edifices: the Pisa Cathedral, the Pisa Baptistry, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and the Camposanto Monumentale (Monumental Cemetery).” ( Wikipedia ).  Here is a photograph that I took as we entered the complex.Pisa field of miracles small This shows the Baptistry, the Duomo (cathedral) and the bell tower (the leaning tower) in the background.  We bought our tickets (8 euros each for all the buildings except the tower) and went to the baptistry first. It is the largest baptistry in Italy.  Pisa field of miracles baptistry small It was begun in 1153 but it was not finished until the 14th century.  The octagonal font at the center dates from 1246 and it is the largest one I have ever seen.  I climbed up to the top gallery to take a photo of it. Pisa field of miracles baptistry font smallThere is a statue of John the Baptist in the center and it is so deep that you can have an adult do full immersion.  The little side fonts were for babies.  The acoustics in the building are remarkable and every half an hour one of the staff sings in the center under the dome to demonstrate that.

We next went to the Duomo (cathedral).  Pisa field of miracles duomo small“The heart of the Piazza del Duomo is the Duomo, the medieval cathedral of the Archdiocese of Pisa, entitled to Santa Maria Assunta (St. Mary of the Assumption). This is a five-naved cathedral with a three-naved transept.” (Wikipedia)  It is stunningly big and beautiful.  They began building it in 1092.  Here is a photo of the inside, it is not that sharp because the inside of the church is dark;Pisa field of miracles duomo inside small  There is 
an impressive mosaic, in the apse of the church, of Christ in Majesty, flanked by the Blessed Virgin and St. John the Evangelist.  This mosaic sparkles even in the dim light of the church.Pisa field of miracles duomo apse mosaic  small
After the church we went to the Campo Santo or the Camposanto Monumentale ( monumental cemetery).Pisa field of miracles Campo Santo copy This cemetery was built over an earlier one. It is a huge, oblong Gothic cloister that was begun in 1278 .  It was completed in 1464.  There are 43 arches in the building.  Most of the tombs are marble slabs set into the floor. Pisa field of miracles campo santo inside small Like this one for a knight in 1413.Pisa field of miracles campo santo 1413 tomb small There are 84 Roman sarcophagi left in the halls. Pisa field of miracles Campo Santo roman tomb small
And finally we went to look at the famous leaning tower of Pisa.  It is actually the bell tower for the cathedral.  The construction of the bell tower began in 1173 and took place in three stages over the course of 177 years, with the bell-chamber only added in 1372.  But there were problems that began to show 5 years into the building by the time they reached the 3rd floor.   The subsoil was weak and there was a poor foundation so the tower was sinking on the south side.  So they left it alone for a century and the ground settled.  They eventually added 4 more floors and the tower was leaning by one degree in 1372.  In 1990 that had turned into 5.5 degrees and they closed the tower and took 10 years trying to figure out how to keep it from collapsing.  You can read about it online.  I actually climbed the tower when I visited Pisa in 1987 before it was closed.  David decided that he did not need the pleasure of the 300 stairs today so he passed up the opportunity ( it now costs 18 euros to climb and you only get 30 minutes to climb up and down).Pisa field of miracles leaning tower small They have stabilized it again and people can climb it now but who knows for how long?
We found a Subway in Pisa and had a sandwich before boarding our bus back home.  It was a great adventure and it should be on everyone’s bucket list.
 

Creepy gravestones in the Church of San Miniato’s cemetery in Florence Italy

I am getting behind in my chronicles of Florence.  It seems like there is history and wonderful photographs everywhere. Today, I am going to take you to the church of San Miniato which is located in the hills above Florence. “St. Miniato or Minas (Armenian: Մինաս) was an Armenian prince serving in the Roman army under Emperor Decius. He was denounced as a Christian after becoming a hermit and was brought before the Emperor who was camped outside the gates of Florence. The Emperor ordered him to be thrown to beasts in the Amphitheatre where a panther was called upon him but refused to devour him. Beheaded in the presence of the Emperor, he is alleged to have picked up his head, crossed the Arno and walked up the hill of Mons Fiorentinus to his hermitage. A shrine was later erected at this spot and there was a chapel there by the 8th century. Construction of the present church was begun in 1013 by Bishop Alibrando and it was endowed by the Emperor Henry II. ” ( from Wikipedia). san miniato church Florence Italy small There are an order of monks who have been in residence at this church since the 15th century. We got to hear Mass and Vespers sung in Latin by this group.  It is very inspiring to go to Mass in a church that is that old. We also looked at the Porte Sante cemetery that surrounds the church. This is a large cemetery with lots of marble statues and gravestones.  Some of them are quite unusual, for example; “Mario and Maria Mazzone. The life-size statues of these two young people who died so very long ago make even the most casual observer stop and look for details of this love story. One sees a young man in an airman’s uniform with a broad smile, looking squarely at the young woman whose gaze is turned slightly aside and downward, with just a hint of a smile on her face, their hands just about to touch. One looks closely and reads in the inscription that Mario, born in 1919, was killed in Hamm, Germany on 22 April 1944; Maria, born in 1922, died some 11 months later, in May of 1945. No other Mazzones are buried there, nor are there any clues as to who these people were. Were they lovers? Husband and wife? In fact, according to Graziella Cirri, who has done an exhaustive analysis of the sculpture in several Florentine cemeteries, Maria and Mario were in fact brother and sister and the statue was commissioned in 1947 by their mother.” ( from The Florentine). san miniato cemetery young couple face bw small san miniato cemetery young couple small Another interesting grave belongs to Silvia Marini Nei de Rogati 1886-1947 .  She is shown standing with a cape outstretched behind her and 4 young children in front of her.san miniato cemetery Silvia Marini Nei de Rogati small I also came across a couple of kind of creepy graves.  The first thing I saw of this particular grave were his feet.  Then I worked my way around to find the sculpted body of a life sized naked man lying over his grave. Click on the photo to enlarge it .san miniato cemetery fallen man small   Then there is this grave with a child being covered with an octopus.  I could not find any information on the web about it or the person, Maria Elizabetta Giustini whose dates were 1955-1956.  san miniato cemetery baby squid smALL There were also many large mausoleums that were made like mini churches; here is one that was quite large.san miniato cemetery domed mausoleum small  Here are a couple of other statues that I found interesting..san miniato cemetery broken angel small san miniato cemetery man small san miniato cemetery praying child small san miniato cemetery woman mosaic small It is a different kind of art; one that expresses a little bit of what one person’s life meant to other people they left behind.

Roman cemeteries; Protestant Cemetery and Catholic Cimitero Monumentale del Verano

I find cemeteries fascinating places to take photographs. We have gone to the Protestant Cemetery and the Catholic Cimitero Monumentale del Verano Cemetery and they are an interesting contrast.  The Protestant Cemetery is very famous in Rome because the English Romantic poets, Keats and Shelley, are buried there (I did not take photos of their grave stones as you can easily find them on Google).  It is a small and intimate cemetery for non Catholics and mostly foreigners of all denominations ; Protestants, Jewish people, and Eastern Orthodox people.  The graves are for individual people with an emphasis on important artists, architects, poets and writers who came to Rome in the 19th century and either decided not to leave or accidentally died there.   Here is one of the most beautiful graves in this cemetery;  this is the grave of the wife of American sculptor William Story and it has his Angel of Grief draped over it.  rome protestant cemetary story angel smallThese are a couple of other statues and monuments that I thought were particularly beautiful and one modern gravestone of an architect.rome protestant cemetary angel woman small rome protestant cemetary boy smallrome protestant cemetary cube tomb small

In contrast , the Catholic cemetery ( Cimitero Monumentale del Verano) was huge.   There were many  beautiful crypts, mosaic inlaid tombs, and beautiful statues and architecture scattered over acres of tombs.  The emphasis in this cemetery was on the family.  Many graves had photos and list of family members that were buried together. rome catholic cemetary family stone small There were very modern mausoleums that looked like tiny condos for the dead members of a wealthy family.  This one was 2 stories high and the outside was all of marble.rome catholic cemetary house tomb small  This was an older mausoleum that had this sculpture on the front of it. rome catholic cemetary angels small  But what both of the cemeteries had was cats.  They are cared for by the caretakers of the graveyard and even neutered, and adopted out in some cases.  Here is one from the Catholic cemetery that was so friendly that she jumped up into my lap and started purring  when I sat down.  They seemed to add a peaceful presence to these cities of the dead.rome catholic cemetary cat small