July 18, 2018

ONE NIGHT IN PIAZZA SAN PIETRO

The large square right in front of St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican is the first place that people find themselves in when they come visiting. Right in the center stands an obelisk topped by a Cross that came all the way from Egypt which was erected in the 16th century. Previous to that, it stood in the middle of Nero’s Circus where brutal games were held and early Christians were executed. Ironic, isn’t it? Bernini designed the square including the curving colonnaded arcade that had four columns deep above which were sculptures of different saints standing on the roof. Pope Alexander II had it designed in such a way…

July 6, 2018

THE MEDIEVAL ISLE OF MONT ST. MICHEL

Some 2 kms. off the Normandy coast of France lies this 100-hectare island that is both a fortress and a monastery with a cathedral at the top. It has been a strategic location since ancient times because it was easy to defend, helped by the high tide that could isolate it or drown invaders trying to scale the high walls. The topography exemplifies the feudal social structure of that time with God and the Church at the top with the clergy’s living quarters below and the houses for the small population of fishermen and farmers at the base. It used to be isolated from the mainland during high tide but…