Sunday, August 30, 2009

Via Francigena: Viterbo

A marker for the Via Francigena between Sutri and Viterbo.

Cathedral of San Lorenzo and the Palace of the Popes

In the middle ages when the popes had difficulties asserting their authority over Rome, Viterbo became their favourite residence, beginning with Pope Eugene III (1145-1146). Between 1261 and 1281, five of the eight popes who reigned were elected in Viterbo: Pope Urban IV, elected in 1261; Pope Gregory X in 1271; Pope John XXI in 1276; Pope Nicolas III in 1277; and Pope Martin IV in 1281. Until 1271, the gathering of cardinals for the election was not called a conclave -- the word means under lock and key. After Pope Clement IV died in 1268, the cardinals meeting in Viterbo could not elect his successor. The election dragged on, ultimately lasting 33 months. It was not until city officials locked all of the cardinals in the meeting room, reduced their diet to bread and water and took the roof off the meeting hall that the cardinals elected Pope Gregory. It was Pope Gregory who made it church law that papal elections would take place in a conclave.

Viterbo is a city of lions and fountains.

This is an outdoor pulpit used by Thomas Aquinas.

La Macchina di Santa Rosa (under construction)
We witnessed the beginning of the construction of a new "macchina" for the feast of St. Rose one of the patron saints of Viterbo. (The other patron saint is St. Lawrence.) St. Rose (1233-1251) is remembered every year on September 3rd with a procession of her statue on top of a 5 ton, 30 meter tall tower ("macchina") that is a carried on the shoulders of hundreds of men from Viterbo. Tradition says that what began as a simple transport of her body to a basilica named in her honor a few years after her death, to the devotional spectacle that one can see today, began in response to a vow made by the citizens of the town during the plague of 1657. Every five years the town council has a competition for a new "macchina" design. During the 19th century they were very gothic in appearance. The last couple of towers have been very modern. The new tower that will be used from 2009 to 2013 is designed by Arturo Vittori.

Santa Maria della Carbonara
This 12th century icon should be part of every kitchen!
We found it in Viterbo's Cathedral of San Lorenzo.

Vincenzo and his bike are resting for
the next part of the journey on the Via Francigena.

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