Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Venice Part Eight

This morning we were up and off again to the Institute, so the boat journey was the same as yesterday. For a bit of variety, we stood on the opposite side, but this meant that we were on the seaward side going round the islands. The wind would have cut corn, and was trying to go through us for a short cut, to coin a couple of phrases! So my photo-taking was cut short as we sought some shelter. En route, the principal talked about the Waldensians, in order to prepare us for the morning's session.

We were joined by the Anglican Chaplain and the Waldensian pastor, who told us about their churches' histories and how they came to be in Venice. We were then able to ask some questions to find out a bit more. What was really interesting was the Waldensian pastor said the debate within his mind was whether Italy was like the Galatians (in that they had heard and known the gospel but had forgotten it and been led astray by outward things), or like the Athenians (in that they had never heard the gospel and were a religious but godless society). But either way, Italy, like Ireland, needs the gospel.

Sadly we weren't staying for lunch, so after a quick reception, we set off for some sightseeing. We visited the Cathedral of St Peter of Castello. This is the 'middle' cathedral, as the oldest is on Torchello, one of the other islands, and the present cathedral is St Mark's Basilica. Inside, like the others, there were a lot of altars, statues and paintings, including one remarkable painting of what can only be described as the 'Bling' Madonna and Child, due to the shiny silver necklaces they're both wearing. Again, the 'priests' line got us in for free, although the woman raised an objection to the principal's wife, until it was explained we were Anglicans!

We then headed to St Mark's Square, to visit the 'new' cathedral, St Mark's Basilica. This one is free to get into for everyone (not just priests and seminarians), but the best bits are all separate pay-in sections. First, we went up the steep steps in the entrance hall, which brings you to the museum and gallery. A man was waiting at the top to relieve us of 3 euro, but it was well worth it. The vies, both inside the church, and outside on the balcony overlooking the square were worth the money.

The basicila's interior is covered in mosaics, from the top of the five domes to the floor, depicting bible stories and saints, which the floor is made up of intricate tiled patterns.

It is called St Mark's because the Venetians stole the body of St Mark from Alexandria (Egypt) in the 9th century and placed it under the high altar. So seemingly the Venetians haven't heard of the modern Biblical criticism, which would insist that there wasn't really a man called Mark who wrote his gospel. Behind the high altar (entry 1.50 euro), there is a huge altar piece of gold and gems, which contains about 2000 jewels, and features images from the life of Jesus, the disciples, saints, and even contains the story of the theft of St Mark by the Venetians!

We then moved out into one of the side alleys off St Mark's for some coffee before splitting up for some free time. So I checked my emails, and wandered up to Rialto, purchasing some souviners for the parents and such like. The riverbus again was useful in returning me to St Baranba's and the convent.


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  2. Ah Gary, I understand clearly why you used to have that word verification thingy on here! Maybe it's time to put it back!

    Hope you're settling home ok after your busy study trip abroad.