La Verna&Arezzo 25.-26.8.

So we were accommodated in the seminary of Arezzo right next to the city’s beautiful cathedral (see photos below). On Saturday morning we met Massimo and his brother Daniel after some initial confusion at the juxtaposition of modern escalators and the ancient city wall:) We headed towards La Verna, the second most important sanctuary in the Franciscan world. Here, not too far from Arezzo, St.Francis used to walk, stay in silence and pray… and here he received the famous stigmata.

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Lauantaiaamuna matkasimme autolla ylös kaunista vuoristomaisemaa paikalle, jossa pyhä Fransiskus Assisilainen oli usein rukoillut ja oleskellut ja jossa hän sai kuuluisat stigmatat eli Kristuksen haavat. Tunnistin erään fransiskaani-isän aksentista (ja ulkonäöstä) hänen olevan puolalainen, joten sain hyödyntää tilaisuutta puolankieliseen rippiin ja hengelliseen ohjaukseen:) Eräs italialainen fransiskaaniveli puolestaan piti meille kierroksen ja näytti paikkoja, joissa myöhemmin saatoimme vapaa-ajalla käydä rauhassa mietiskelemässä.

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Il santuario della Verna è stato molto impressionante – qui si vede un posto dove san Francesco veniva spesso a pregare e dove quasi tutto è così come era al tempo del santo. Nella terza foto si vede il ”letto” di s. Francesco.

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Above you can see some of the sites just as they were at the time of the saint of Assisi. Where he prayed, where he slept… below you can see the most sacred part of the sanctuary – the chapel of the stigmata. There was a memorial and a tiny lamp at the exact spot where st.Francis was at the time of the stigmatization. At 3 pm we joined the daily procession of the stigmata that started and ended in the main basilica, where we also attended Holy Mass, celebrated beautifully in contrast to a shocking experience the day before in Arezzo with a ”Communist priest”. In the third photo you can see the habit st.Francis was wearing at the moment of the stigmatization.

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Alla näkyy hieman La Vernan sijainnin ja lähistön maisemien kauneutta sekä hieman itse kirkkorakennusta ulkoapäin. Kotiseuduilleen palannut Massimo hymyilee, samoin uutta ja ihmeellistä kokenut Hannu (espanjaa osaavat voivat puolestaan revetä Massimon paidalle).

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Dai Francescani siamo andati ai Dominicani – al santuario di Santa Maria del Sasso, dove Santa Maria una volta apparve su un sasso:) Siamo stati fortunati perché giusto al momento in cui siamo entrati si preparava per la celebrazione di una festa grandissima (il quinto centenario del santuario). Massimo ha trovato alcuni suoi buoni amici lì e noi finlandesi abbiamo ammirato la bellezza della chiesa e del canto del coro. Qui si vede il santuario e il sasso dove apparve la Madonna:

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Above you can see pictures from a nearby Dominican sanctuary which is built on a place of a Marian apparition and miracle. We happened to arrive there exactly at the moment of the solemnities of the 500th anniversary of the sanctuary and so Massimo got to meet some of his friends and was spared extreme embarrasment (which would’ve come upon him if he had missed the feast while being in Italy) and we got to see a bishop and the beginning of the Mass celebrated by a cardinal if I remember well. After this we had the opportunity nearby to taste some of Italy’s best red wines and visit a castle where Dante had been in exile. There were beautiful manuscripts of the Divine Comedy from the 15th or 16th centuries in exhibition.

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Poppi-nimisessä paikassa kävin Massimon kanssa linnassa, jossa Dante oli ollut maanpaossa. Luin italialaisten sotaisesta historiasta ja opin erottamaan paavin ja valtion puolesta olevat linnoitukset toisistaan. Sain myös ihailla puoli vuosituhatta vanhoja Jumalallisen näytelmän käsikirjoituksia ja henkeäsalpaavan kauniita maisemia. Illaksi menimme Massimon luokse ”kevyelle” illalliselle, joka täytti vatsamme ääriään myöten. Oli mukavaa tavata Massimon vanhemmat, veljet ja Erica-veljentytär sekä muutamia muita sukulaisia.

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Dopo di aver visto il castello di Poppi e gustato i vini migliori dell’Italia siamo andati alla casa di Massimo (”vado al Massimo”;) per la cena. Abbiamo conosciuto i genitori, i fratelli ed alcuni altri parenti di Massimo e naturalmente abbiamo anche mangiato benissimo:) Quanto è bello e soave che i fratelli si trovino insieme… Domenica mattina siamo andati a Messa alla cattedrale e abbiamo conosciuto don Alvaro l’esorcista santo. Non dimenticherò le sue parole indirizzate a noi cattolici finlandesi: ”Non temere, piccolo gregge…”

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Now it’s time to have a look at the Arezzo cathedral from the inside. On Sunday morning we went to a Holy Mass celebrated by fr.Alvaro who is quite famous in the area for his charisms – he is an exorcist and one can sense an odour of sanctity around him. He greeted us Finns personally and held strongly on to our hands. Later Massimo told us that he does it to all the people he meets, he prays for them and sees how they react to it – the cases in need for an exorcist of course are of course betrayed in this way as well. After fr.Alvaro we met more of Massimo’s friends, including the family that had picked me and Harri up from the station the first day (photo below). Oh and there was also a traditional ceremony taking place in the church after the Mass where representatives of the 4 quarters of Arezzo play knights and pretend they’re still in the Middle Ages…;) In the afternoon we visited some of the most important churches in Arezzo (pay attention to the exceptional and beautiful crucifixes and the frescos of Piero della Francesca behind the second one) and had lunch at Massimo’s place where I also did some magic tricks:)

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Arezzo on kuuluisa myös siitä, että siellä on kuvattu merkittävä osa yhdestä maailman parhaista elokuvista, nimittäin ”Kaunis elämä” eli ”La vita è bella”. Ihailimme joitain kuvauspaikkoja ja niihin pystytettyjä infotauluja kyseisistä kohtauksista.

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Arezzo è bello, la vita è bella, ma la vita continua e si è dovuto anche lasciare Arezzo… ma non per cose meno belle – la storia continuerà fra poco – a presto!

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