Friday, April 2, 2010

The Churches of Padua

Padua. Padua. Sound vaguely familiar?
It did to me too. It is the setting for Shakespeare's "Taming of the Shrew"
But it should be known far and wide for so much more. As we would come to find out.

We traveled bright and early to Scrovegni's Chapel. Kirk mentioned it was like a small Sistine Chapel frescoed on every square inch by the Italian artist, Giotto. When I saw the outside I grumpily scratched my head at what the fuss was about. And why for heaven's sakes we got up extra early and were waiting 30 minutes in the cold for our reserved time slot?!?!

(I am so lucky to have a husband who researches and plans such marvelous journeys and then puts up with my skeptical impatience when things get rough. I am always rewarded with the most remarkable surprises. In this case one of the most important masterpieces of Western art!)No photos allowed inside this chapel, so these internet images will have to convey what my camera could not. Honestly, it was head and shoulders better than the Sistine Chapel - which is saying a lot. I especially loved the starred blue ceiling. There was an introductory video prepping us for the masterpiece which really helped piece together the frescoes.The fresco cycle's theme is the life of Virgin Mary and celebrates her role in human salvation. Enrico Scrovegni had the chapel built on his family's estate in penitence for his father's sins. His father had been a money lender which supposedly was not allowed in early Christian days.Our group was allowed the customary 15 minutes to take it all in. Together we spotted familiar Bible stories. The birth...The journey into Egypt...And probably most fun of all - the scene of Zaccheus up in the tree...Quietly we sang the Zaccheus song, laughing together. The one that goes,
"Zaccheus was a wee little man, and a wee little man was he.
He climbed up in the sycamore tree for the Lord he wanted to see.
And as the Savior came that way, He looked up in the tree.
And He said, 'Zaccheus, you come down from there'
For I'm going to your house today. For I'm going to your house today."

Connor thought it was pretty great.Following Scrovegni's chapel, we navigated across Padua to the Basilica of Saint Anthony. Padua is another University town and the vibe was alive and soulful.Saint Anthony's church looked like it belonged in Turkey! Those domes were surprising and striking in Italy. Saint Anthony's is considered a major pilgrimage destination. Sounds like good ole Tony did a lot of great deeds during his lifetime. But today he is thought of as the 'Catholic patron saint of lost items.' I wonder if he can help me find my lost silver necklace?!?Padua is yet another ideal day trip from Venice. I wouldn't miss it if I could help it. The town is full of unexpected treasures. Saint Anthony can even help you find them.

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