Today I said Mass in the Basilica of San Marco.
Yesterday I had met in the calle a small group, a family, from London who had a couple celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary. They wanted to know where they could have their rings, bought for the occasion, blessed. I suggested they join us for Mass the next day (that is today, as I write). I blessed their rings and harangued for a bit. They were pretty pleased. It was a memorable moment. This also demonstrates how small the world is: the man had a shop in Dean Street, near St Patrick’s on Soho Square where I have stayed when visiting. He has promised me free haircuts when I am in London.
Anyway, the icon of the Virgin Nicopeia, carried on a ship during the Battle of Lepanto.
San Marco is glorious.
Some of you will know what this is!
The back of the main altar with the tomb of the Evangelist.
They turned on some lights for us! As I am pretty much live blogging this, here is a big image from my iPhone.
I just had to give you the “Big Picture”.
Really. There is nothing like San Marco. You simply can’t grasp it until you have actually seen it.
And the Venetian sacristans are as cordial as the Roman sacristans are nasty.
I remember my first visit to Venice. It was replete with truly incredible stories, especially because I was with a priest friend who is old Sicilian nobility and who knew everyone who is anyone here. I digress.
We went to San Marco in the evening to say our Masses. The Basilica was pretty much closed, but they let us in. I had the altar of the Nicopeia. What we did not expect, is that there was a rehearsal to go on of music by Gabrielli. Various elements of musicians were stationed in the lofts around the church and they created what I can only describe as a tornado of sacred sound. What a blessing I had to stand in that place after Mass, alone with my friend, in the center of San Marco, with all the lights turned on, listening to the holy whirlwind of music.
So… you don’t care about that. You want to know what I ate today.
Spaghetti with squid ink. It is so delicate. Truly. The flavor is amazingly delicate.
Ooops… out of order. Little tastes of sea food critters. Sardine in saor, Granseola, Schie.
This, friends, is what Pinot Grigio is supposed to look like. Organic, small batch, un filtered… you get the true sense of the grey grape. None of your insipid pinot grigio gulping wine, this. This grabs you by the… earlobe and gets your attention.
Note the color.
On the way back through the Piazza of San Marco, a band was playing as the water was rising. The walk ways were not out yet, however.
The sound of these great little combos in the square reminds me of the days when I did actually still dance.
Finally, because of La Boheme last night, I have been craving some absinthe.
And now to my email, my office, and my pillow.
This will give you a sense of the music I heard that day, which would have been in 1993.
Were I the Patriarch of Venice, this would be it, folks. And Venice would explode as a place of religious pilgrimage as well as touristic. But as you watch, imagine them – not in concert in front of everyone – but hidden in high lofts around the place.