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Posts tagged ‘churches’

The Beautiful City of Padua

I came to Padua to see Giotto’s masterpiece, the Scrovegni Chapel, but I discovered a really amazing place.  I found a charming city with lovely streets, elegant architecture, fun sights, and locals out enjoying a pleasant fall weekend in the numerous parks and piazzas.  While Venice, its neighbor in the Veneto region, gets mobs of tourists, I realized that Padua definitely deserves a few days to explore and rewards its visitors with an unforgettable experience.

Saint Anthony Cathedral

An impressive sight when walking around.  Street view of the Basilica of Saint Anthony, Padua

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Holy Souvenirs from the Holy Sepulchre

Besides seeing the amazing architecture and artistic decorations of the church itself, visiting religious sites always gives me the opportunity to learn about cultural practices.  Major destination churches teach me what it means to be a pilgrim by watching how people interact with the place.  Maybe more so than regular tourists or travelers, pilgrims understand the personally transformative aspect of their trip and want share it with others after they have returned home.

Candle holder just after Golgotha in the Holy Sepulchre

Candle holder just after the Chapel of Golgotha within the Holy Sepulchre.  These thin beeswax candles are an important part of Orthodox worship.

The Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem is a holy place for all Christians and as a result, you have a lot of unique worship practices and customs coming together there.  Still, everything is rooted in a deep faith and desire for connection to the divine in the church, no matter what language was spoken.  Whether through prayers or “making” souvenirs, I also saw a deep commitment from all pilgrims to bring the holy experience back home with them. 

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Art, Wine, and Miracles – A Road Trip in Israel

In America we call them “Roadside Attractions” – the enticing wonders that dot country highways.  Advertising sensational things like 20 foot long alligator mummies or the world’s biggest dollhouse, these sights are usually good for a laugh, a rest stop, and an ice cream before heading back on the road.  Mostly they are quirky, kitschy tourist stops, but occasionally you find a gem.  I’ve come to realize that these places are not limited to the US.  Here’s the story of one such incredible find in Israel, a figuratively and literally miraculous place.

Israel road to Nazareth to Cana

On the road leaving Nazareth

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The Modernist Church of St. Joan of Arc in Rouen

Rouen, France has a beautiful medieval core with wood and plaster buildings slumped and crooked from centuries of settling.  There are several beautiful medieval churches led of course by the grand Gothic Cathedral.  But when it came time to commemorate Rouen’s most famous Saint, Joan of Arc, the city erected a thoroughly modern church – L’église sainte Jeanne d’Arc.

L’église sainte Jeanne d’Arc

These oval-shaped, fragmented glass white windows circle the altar at the Church of St. Joan of Arc.

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Inside Rouen Cathedral

A list of the greatest Gothic Cathedrals in the World is going to be dominated by the French greats: Notre Dame, Sainte-Chapelle, Chartres, Amiens, Riems and Rouen.  Since cathedrals, with their cavernous interior space and organic ribbing, are places to be explored and experienced, I always make time for a long visit!  Rouen Cathedral in Normandy is a spectacular example of the High Gothic (mostly) style and well worth gazing at and wandering through.

Main aisle of the Rouen Cathedral.

Main aisle of the Rouen Cathedral.

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