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.