Thursday, June 18, 2009

Cars I never saw on the NJ Turnpike: Part 2

Smart Cars
These small practical cars can be seen all over Rome. You can park one vertically to the sidewalk because it's length is equal to the width of many other types of cars. Two or three Smart cars can park in the same space as a normal car.
The idea for the cars was started by Swiss watch manufacturer Swatch. In 1994 a joint venture of Mercedes Benz and Swatch started to work on the project. The Smart Car was introduced in Frankfort in 1997 and in one year it was being sold in nine European countries. Today the Smart Car is sold in over two dozen countries world wide.
I never saw a SMART car on the New Jersey Turnike. (I moved to Rome in 2007 and Smart cars started being sold in the USA in 2008. I expect that now you can be see Smart cars on roads of New Jersey.)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Lunedì Letterario

A Saint on Death Row:
The Story of Dominique Green

by Thomas Cahill

Everyone should read this book. I am going to let these two voices speak for it.

“Dominique Green was a wonderful man whose life demonstrated the power of God to heal and transfigure even the most unlikely people and places. Who could have expected that Texas Death Row would be made into an avenue of divine grace? -- which is exactly what happened through Dominique's instrumentation. Though this is a book that ends in death, it does not end in despair. Read it and discover how even the obscenity of capital punishment can be transformed into an occasion of light and peace.”
—Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Cape Town, South Africa

“There are many ways to tell the tragic story of America's death rows. Tom Cahill has chosen to show -- through the extraordinary life of one man -- that God is always working everywhere and can bring the most beautiful soul to maturity in even the most horrifying circumstances. If you read his story, you will never forget Dominique Green, nor will you ever feel the same way about our courts, our prisons, and our criminal justice system. This book is a life-changer.”
—Sister Helen Prejean, author of Dead Man Walking

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Festa del Infiorata: made with flowers

Today is the Feast of Corpus Christi and we journeyed to the town of Genzano di Roma, in the hills south of Rome, to see the Infiorata, a carpet of flower petals that is being prepared by the townspeople for the evening procession of the Blessed Sacrament. 

The origins of this flower carpet go back to the mid-1700's. Then and now, sketches were prepared, over 350,000 flowers have their petals separated and stored in caves until needed, and drawings are made on the pavement on Friday night. The petals are laid on Saturday and Sunday, in much the same way that a painter makes a painting.

Watching people work to put on the finishing touches before the procession reminded me of the preparations for the Tournament of Roses parade in Pasadena, California.
Spreading greens to fill in the walkways
between the sections of the Infiorata.
St. Paul is depicted in one of the sections.
Water is sprayed on the petals
to keep them fresh under the hot sun .

Lago di Nemi

On Sunday, after getting sandwiches in the town of Genzano, we drove over the hill to Lake Nemi for a picnic. It is a 400 acre volcanic lake about 30 km south of Rome and named for the town of Nemi that overlooks it from the top of a hill.
We were sitting on the opposite side from where George Inness painted this picture in 1872, now in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

As we were driving to our picnic spot I was surprised to see a Naval Museum on the shore of this relatively small lake. I want to go back and visit the museum to discover more about the sunken Roman ships that were found in Lake Nemi. These ships were built by the Emperor Caligula in the 1st century AD. One of his ships was designed as a temple, dedicated to Diana. Another was basically a floating palace with marble, mosaic floors, and even plumbing for Roman baths. Mussolini had the ships pulled out of the lake (1927-1932) and after nineteen centuries the hulls were mostly intact. Tragically, the ships were destroyed by artillery fire in World War II.
A photo of one of the hulls taken before World War II.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Cars I never saw on the New Jersey Turnpike

Cars are generally much smaller in Italy than in the United States. The Fiat 500 is one of the smallest on the road here in Rome.
Friends visiting from New Jersey are playing around with a Fiat 500 after dinner in the Jewish Ghetto. Did they want to take it home with them and drive it in the New Jersey Turnpike?

The Fiat 500 cars are all the same size, 
but they come in different colors!

Vine and Fig Tree

Each man will sit under his vine and fig tree
with no one to trouble him.
(Michah 4:4, New Jerusalem Bible)

The words of this verse came to mind this morning as I woke up and looked out the window. I could see our passion flower vine and young fig tree.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

All Creatures of Our God and King

The Sanctuary of Santa Maria della Foresta is a site on the Cammino de San Francesco, 2.5 miles from Rieti, where St. Francis of Assisi stopped in the fall of 1225 while travelling to Rieti to have his eyes treated. Francis was here to get away from the the many demands of his many followers and he stayed as the guest of the Parish Priest in a house next to the little church of St. Fabiano.

This gate marks the entrance to a cave below the house where Francis stayed. He retreated to this cave to escape the eye irritation caused by smoke in the house from an unvented fireplace. Legend has it that St. Francis composed the Canticle of the Creatures in this cave.

This is the view from outside the cave.

Here is the English translation of the Canticle of the Creatures made by William H. Draper (1855-1933) for a children’s Pentecost celebration. It is the version found in many hymnals with the harmonization by Ralph Vaughn Williams.

All creatures of our God and King

Lift up your voice and with us sing,

Alleluia! Alleluia!

Thou burning sun with golden beam,

Thou silver moon with softer gleam!
O praise Him! O praise Him
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Thou rushing wind that art so strong

Ye clouds that sail in Heaven along,

O praise Him! Alleluia!

Thou rising moon, in praise rejoice,

Ye lights of evening, find a voice!
O praise Him! O praise Him!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Thou flowing water, pure and clear,

Make music for thy Lord to hear,

O praise Him! Alleluia!

Thou fire so masterful and bright,

That givest man both warmth and light.
O praise Him! O praise Him!

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Dear mother earth, who day by day

Unfoldest blessings on our way,

O praise Him! Alleluia!

The flowers and fruits that in thee grow,

Let them His glory also show.
O praise Him! O praise Him!
!Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

And all ye men of tender heart,

Forgiving others, take your part,

O sing ye! Alleluia!

Ye who long pain and sorrow bear,

Praise God and on Him cast your care!
O praise Him! O praise Him!

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

And thou most kind and gentle Death,

Waiting to hush our latest breath,

O praise Him! Alleluia!

Thou leadest home the child of God,

And Christ our Lord the way hath trod.
O praise Him! O praise Him!

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Let all things their Creator bless,

And worship Him in humbleness,
O praise Him! Alleluia!

Praise, praise the Father, praise the Son,

And praise the Spirit, Three in One!
O praise Him! O praise Him!

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Agriturismo Cardito

A holiday weekend gave us the opportunity to travel to the Rieti Valley where we stayed in an agriturismo operated by the Conti Roselli.
Friends preparing lunch and the view from a kitchen sink.

I enjoyed the quiet of the upstairs loft to read (again) The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. (My students are reading it.)
This is the main house of the property.
It is still the Roselli family farm and the
Countess Alice was proud to show us around.