Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Pilgrimage Posts: Beautiful Bologna

Another early start and we were on our way from Florence to Bologna. First order of business was finding a map as our bus was not able to take us directly to our main destination here – the Basilica of San Domenico where the relics of St. Dominic are located. Pier Giorgio was influenced by a Dominican Father and took vows as a third-order lay member of the community in May 1922. One year earlier, in August 1921, Pier Giorgio visited Bologna and wrote to his mother:

"This morning I visited nearly all the churches of beautiful Bologna. Maybe if I have a few minutes of time left before leaving I'll visit the art museum.
Many greetings and kisses.
Pier Giorgio"

We were privileged to celebrate Mass in the chapel of St. Dominic but Pier Giorgio’s sense of humor was at work. As Mass started and for quite a few minutes into it, the distracting sound of vacuuming from a nearby chapel was drowning out our priest. Fortunately, a sacristan came and corrected our microphone problem so we could hear better and, eventually, the vacuuming stopped. I did find it amusing that we would come so far to have a special Mass here and have to contend with a vacuum cleaner! After Mass, we were greatly rewarded for our perseverance when Brother Tarcisio gave us a wonderful tour of all things Dominic! He provided detailed info about the sarcophagus, bust, relics, xrays, chapel, church, cloister, etc. He brought us back into the cell of St. Dominic where we also saw items belonging to him and relevant to his canonization. Brother Tarcisio also walked us through the original library of the monastery which is currently undergoing restoration.

We ended the tour outside of the basilica and realized it was time for lunch. But where? Just then, a little old Italian lady carrying grocery bags passed by. She told us there was a place nearby and she was going in that direction. We walked down a side street and she pointed out two lanterns above a doorway. It was a place we would have never found on our own and it turned out to be a wonderful non-touristy restaurant and a great spot for a long Italian lunch. Our Canadian pilgrim turned out to be our Bologna expert and informed us that lasagna originated here. Our waiter confirmed the fact and claimed that the Italian pasta called tagliatelle also originated in Bologna. This was an interesting coincidence because Pier Giorgio shared the recipe for tagliatelle in a letter to one of his friends. Needless to say, the food was delicious.

After lunch, we attempted to visit the basilica of San Stefano but it was still closed. This can be a bit frustrating when traveling in Italy but it is the way it is. We all wanted to return to San Domenico anyway, so we headed back for more time with St. Dominic. It is very pleasant to walk around Bologna -- known for its porticoed sidewalks and the two large towers in the main square. The weather cooperated with us again, threatening rain and thundering a bit but never letting a drop fall on us. We met our bus and were on our way to Pier Giorgio’s hometown. Another great day in the company of Pier Giorgio. Until tomorrow in Turin….verso l’alto!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I loved all the cities we visited in our tour. However, my memory of my visit to Bologna was a little blurry. Not because I did not like it. But because I was loaded with medications as a result of that raining incident in Sienna. So some of these wonderful experiences I had to relive through what I caught on my camcorder. But some of what I do remember are amazing. The skull of St. Dominic, the marble works of art that contained it, the xray of his bones and the little room that has his items all of which filled me with awe because I was looking at all these things that used to be and used to belong to one of the spiritual giants in the Catholic Church. This man have founded an order which resulted in many Catholic converts throughout the centuries because of its dedication to preaching the words of GOD. And of course had produced many great saints- St. Catherine of Siena, St. Thomas of Aquinas including our dear Pier Giorgio. I am in such admiration of this order that I choose to belong to 3 of its confraternities - Angelic Warfare, Eucharistic Adoration and Most Holy Rosary.