Thursday, 9 June 2011

Visit of the Brothers to Palermo


A number of us from the General Curia spent the first weekend of June in Palermo and its region of Sicily.
Palermo Cathedral 

Thanks to the tireless hospitality of fra Enzo (the Minister Provincial) and the friars of Palermo, we were able to visit Salemi, Trapani, Erice, Castelvetrano, Selinunte, Sciacca, Cefal├╣, Palermo - of course - and Monreale.
Erice

Palermo is only one region of Sicily, yet three and a half days was barely enough for a quick glimpse of its natural and historical beauty.

Erice

Erice
For me, the highlight was our visit to the Cathedral of Monreale just outside Palermo. Its mosaic icon of the Jesus the Pantokrator is well known (see below.)
Monreale
Monreale


Monreale
Without any exageration, standing (- and sitting with a dropped jaw-) within that space was one of the most moving experiences I have ever had. Even apart from the excellent catechesis of the cathedral dean. I was surprised at the silent impact the interior of the church had upon me. I cannot imagine that anyone would be unaffected by the light and compelling beauty of the icons and their interrelation. That, and the catechesis of the parish priest, have compelled me revise my earlier opinions about such texts as "The Divine Liturgy" by Germanus the Confessor, or "The Hierarchies" by the Pseudo-Dionysius, and the like. Personally, until seeing inside Monreale cathedral - which does constitute an integrated liturgical space (even with its later modifications) - I have thought of the "allegorical" commentaries on the Sacred Liturgy to be pius exaggerations empty of content. Now it feels as though my own view has been very  limited without this experience. The intuition of the transcendent dimension of the Sacred Liturgy has been more present to me in the Liturgy of the Hours. In Monreale, though, that dimension to the entire Sacred Liturgy (Eucharist and Liturgy of the Hours) is made tangible and visible on a cosmic scale. I have to admit now how beauty can enhance active participation (but not just any beauty, and not just any participation it must be said .) The transcendent dimension of the Eucharist has been less visible and less accessible to my conscious and unconscious self than I could have been aware of without this visit, a visit that will remain one those milestones of rare significance in my own vocational journal.  Below are some images. Without comments.  Words seem inadequate, and a few words - banal. The Cathedral in Monreale could be a place of universal pilgrimage if it isn't already. (Again, apologies for the rotated view.)

See    http://www.paradoxplace.com/Perspectives/Sicily%20&%20S%20Italy/Montages/Sicily/Palermo/Monreale%20Cathedral.htm

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