Two Mary’s! Giotto’s “Birth of the Virgin” Raises an Interesting Question

Birth of the Virgin by Giotto

September 8 is the Feast of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary-- and I've got a question for you:  WHY are there two babies in this picture?This painting, titled “Birth of the Virgin,” is by the Renaissance artist Giotto di Bondone (better known simply as “Giotto.”)  It’s one of a fresco cycle on the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary.Giotto’s work can be seen in the basilica at Assisi and in the campanile (bell tower) of the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore (Basilica of St. Mary of the Flower … [Read more...]

Summer Snowfall Interrupted: Vandals Spoil the Fun at Rome Basilica

St. Mary Major - Side altar

At the beginning of each of the ten videos in Fr. Robert Barron’s “Catholicism” series, there is a scene in which thousands of white rose petals drift downward from the ceiling at Rome’s Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore (St. Mary Major).  It’s a breathtaking symbol of the “miracle of the snow”—the rare summer snowfall which, according to legend, fell on August 5, 352, on the Esquiline Hill, one of the famed “Seven Hills” of Rome.It’s a scene that’s recreated each year on August 6, when the Ba … [Read more...]

When St. Francis Needed to Get Away…

Pope Benedict was scheduled to make a pastoral visit to La Verna on May 13.  The monks and sisters there waited eagerly for his arrival; but inclement weather (a heavy rainfall) necessitated the cancellation of that part of the trip.  I imagine it was the difficult spiral climb up that mountain that could not be negotiated during a heavy rainstorm. *     *     *     *     * St. Francis is most often associated with the Italian village  of Assisi.  And fair enough:  Assisi was home base for Fran … [Read more...]


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