Saturday, December 29, 2012

Pietà by Michelangelo

Inside the St. Peter's Basilica at Vatican City lies the famous work of Renaissance artist, Michelangelo titled, Pietà.

Pietà literally means "pity" in Italy.  In Merriam-Webster's definition, it is the representation of the Virgin Mary mourning over the dead body of Christ.

But when you look at the sculpture, I see no grieving or mourning---only acceptance. The carrara marble made between 1498-1499 depicts Jesus Christ after his crucifixion on the lap of his loving mother, Mary.  This tender scene looks natural and real.

Michelangelo did not want to represent his work with a "dying" Jesus but as a "communion between man and God by the sanctification through Christ."

There is a certain serenity and acceptance on the faces of Jesus and Mary.  Their fervent faith to follow God's will is something that we should all aspire.  Thy will be done.

Monday, December 3, 2012

St. Therese: Little Things With Great Love

St. Therese of Lisieux is a popular Carmelite nun who at 15 years old entered the monastery.  I feel an attachment to her because her holiness is based on doing "little things with great love." There was a time when I prayed very hard and she answered me with a bouquet of white roses.  They say that if you ask her for a favor, she will answer with roses.  Sometimes, people ask for a specific color of rose and she obliges.  

This is Les Buissonnets, St. Therese's house from November 1877 to April 1888 the date she entered Carmel.

She was a sickly person and very sensitive.  "She knew as a Carmelite nun she would never be able to perform great deeds.  'Love proves itself by deeds, so how am I to show my love?  Great deeds are forbidden me.  The only way I can prove my love is by scattering flowers and these flowers are every little sacrifice, every glance and word, and the doing of the least actions for love.'  She took every chance to sacrifice, no matter how small it would seem."

Living Room
Her hair 

The image of Our Mother
Her bedroom 

Her house is surrounded by a rose garden.
Basilica of St. Therese in Lisieux, the second largest pilgrimage site in France after the Lourdes. 
This is a mosaic inside the Basilica made by a Filipino artist, Manuel Baldemor.  It depicts the People Power revolution with the image of Our Lady and St. Therese. 

The body of St. Therese
At 24 years old, St. Therese died from tuberculosis.  She was canonized in 1925.  The "little flower" reminds us that love will bring us to heaven---that little things make big beginnings.  Her idea was to do everything in life, especially the little things, out of love for God and for our neighbors.

Monday, November 12, 2012

A Prayer from St. Therese of Lisieux

May today there  be peace within.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be content knowing you are a child of God.
Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.
It is there for each and every one of us.

This is the tomb of St. Therese of Lisieux, one of the well-loved saints known as the "Little Flower of Jesus." She grants wishes thru "signs" by way of roses. I took this photo---her body is incorrupt and she looks just like she is sleeping peacefully.  Next blog entry: St. Therese's house and Basilica. 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Winged Victory of Samothrace

Passing by the Daru staircase, I was mesmerized by the Greek Goddess Nike.
One of the treasures inside the Louvre Museum since 1884 is the Winged Victory of Samothrace. It is also called the Greek Goddess Nike.  I was stunned by its "headless" beauty.  I had to go near the statue so I can truly appreciate its graceful figure. And I was blown away big time!  It was estimated that it was erected in 190 B.C. upon the orders of the Macedonian general Demetrius | Poliorcetes after his naval victory at Cyprus.

Look at her graceful pose, amidst war and violence, there is grace and peace.  The draped garments signal the rippling, heavy sea breeze but her stance is one of stillness.

One look, I found an instant connection.  Art communicates to us in a language that is so unique, personal and universal.  Without the arms and head, the wings give us hope that there is divine triumph and the human spirit will continue to live on.   Life is beautiful.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Best-Preserved Pantheon

M·AGRIPPA·L·F·COS·TERTIVM·FECIT stands for 'Marcus Agrippa, Lucii filius, consul tertium fecit' which translates to "'Marcus Agrippa, son ofLucius, Consul for the third time, built this"
While walking along the Piazza della Rotonda, I saw a huge building with magnificent marble columns---a brave reminder of the great Roman Empire!  The impressive Pantheon was built 1800 years ago originally as a temple for all the gods.  It is one of the best-preserved historical buildings I have ever encountered.

The Portico's 16 huge, 60-ton columns (1.5 meter in diameter) came all they way from Egypt, quarried and transported via barges and vessels.  

"Emperor Hadrian was responsible for rebuilding the Pantheon on the site of Agrippa's original temple."
While inside, I got lucky when a boy's choir with angelic voices performed right before my eyes.   


The Pantheon houses the tombs of popular Renaissance artist Raphael and several Italian Kings like Victor Emanuel II.

Victor Emanuel II was the King of Italy, a title he held until his death in 1878. The Italians gave him the epithet Father of the Fatherland (Padre della Patria).

Victor Emanuel II unified Italy.
Outside of the Pantheon is the Plazza della Rotonda where tourists do some photo-ops in this crowded square. 

I have always been a vanguard of preservation.  Cultural heritage is a national treasure.  We should always remember our history, share them to the world and learn from it just like the Romans did.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Gelato @ Trevi Fountain

A very nice weather welcomed us at the Trevi Fountain in Rome, Italy.  There were a lot of coins in this world-famous fountain and I wanted to be "in" so I also threw some for prosperity and good wishes.  They say there are about 3,000 Euros being thrown everyday.  "A traditional legend holds that if visitors throw a coin into the fountain, they are ensured a return to Rome." Well, I wish to return to Rome with a "special someone" if God permits :)

This Baroque-style fountain was featured in memorable movies from my favorite director Federico Fellini's "La Dolce Vita" to the beautiful and regal Audrey Hepburn in "Roman Holiday." 

My most happy and fulfilling discovery was getting a gelato (ice cream) a few steps from the Trevi Fountain.  It was the BEST gelato I have ever tasted in my existence.  It was a last-minute decision and I am glad I dragged my feet to the ice cream parlor. Above is my gelato with the Trevi Fountain as background.  If you can see me, my smile was from ear to ear.  In Wikipedia, it says: "The history of gelato dates back to frozen desserts served in ancient Rome and Egypt made from snow and ice brought down from mountaintops and preserved below ground."  So if you want to taste the best gelato in the world, it is in Italy---right in front of the Trevi Fountain!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Sistine Chapel

Three years ago, we went into a European pilgrimage and visited four countries---France, Spain, Portugal and Italy. It was a generous blessing for it was an all-expense paid trip for a career that I love doing.  My last European trip was in 2000 but I stayed only in Amsterdam, Netherlands when digital cameras  were not yet "in."  I saw Vincent Van Gogh's artworks in his museum and knowing that my trip will bring me to Rome, I had to visit the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican city to see Michelangelo's masterpieces.  I discovered the Renaissance artists because of the paper I have done in high school featuring Leonardo da Vinci and I have learned to love their style.

I hid my camera inside a bag to get this "forbidden" shot.
I am posting the photo above because it was forbidden and a "sin" to shoot inside the Sistine Chapel. But I had to get a souvenir shot so I hid my camera, removed the flash and clicked the shutter. I have not come all the way from Manila NOT to shoot the Sistine Chapel.  There were a lot of Vatican security guards (in their James Bond-style suits and earpiece radio) watching all the tourists NOT to take photos.  They were also very vocal telling everyone that camera is prohibited.  So with nervous hands and a deadpan face, I shot inside and got my souvenir photo.

Below are some images from the internet.  If you need to read the background, read

The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

The famous "Creation of Adam"

The Sistine Chapel is a bit small.  It was full of tourists when we visited so the solemnity of the place was a bit compromised.  But the grandeur of the paintings was amazing.  Never mind if one would get a sniff neck from looking up/down the ceilings and watching the walls filled with biblical interpretations from the painters.

I sat on a bench in one corner, silently prayed and gave thanks to the many blessings in my life.  I was inside the Sistine Chapel and I was in heaven.