ROME 22/06 – Day 21: Different kinds of pawns

We are past the Solstice.   Sunrise was at 5:33 and sunset will be at 20:52.  The Ave Maria should ring at 21:15

One of the saddest lines in all of the New Testament, but also one leading to profound mysteries, is “They have no wine.”   And something was done about it.

You can get some wine and, at the same time, help the traditional Benedictines of the Abbey of Le Barroux in France.  These guys are the real deal.  Check out their streams of the office.   The monks have revived vineyards of the old papal estates.  Very cool.

You can get 10% off with the code: FATHERZ10 – They have a nice 4 bottle assortment right now.  Click HERE

Yesterday I ran an errand over by Navona and visited the churches, Sant’Agnes and Sacro Cuore.

It’s hard to see, but there is an inscription by the door going into Sant’Agnese describing that someone fleeing from the law must get to the door of the church for sanctuary and not just the iron fence.

Mighty Agnes, Virgin and Martyr, pray for us.  She is a patroness of mine, due to how and where I entered the Catholic Church.

In this church is preserved the baptismal font of another of my Roman friends, the great Santa Francesca Romana, who had the blessing of being able to see her guardian angel.  She is a patroness of mine due to how I entered Rome and began my serious Romanization.

My guess is that the putti are holding the chrism and perhaps a bowl to pour the water.

Wouldn’t it be something to get that baptismal font into use again?  Why not?

In a shop that sells mostly touristy junk at the corner of the main side entrance to Navona, there are quite a few chess sets.   Since I know you are all with child to see them, here is a small sampling.

Have you been following the Candidates Tournament in Madrid?  The winner faces Magnus.  If I am in my apartment in the afternoon, I have live coverage on.  They’ve only played four rounds at the time of this writing, so there is a lot of chess yet to be played.  However, Nepo is on top followed by Fabi.  I am rooting a bit for Rapport and Ding.   Nakamura has been very strong.  He manages time really well as one might expect from a bullet champ.  It’s a little scary to see how their minds work, how they calculate.  And memories?  How do they keep those opening lines in their heads?

Cats and dogs.   No.  I prefer, by far, well-weighted Staunton pieces.  Although, I could make do with these.

There are a lot more. But they also have little figures of various military groups.  The Swiss Guard is well represented as are the Roman legions.  A chess set of Swiss Guards against the German troops of 1527.  I’ll bet that could be done.

In Sacro Cuore Mass was just beginning so I didn’t snoop around.  3 people at Mass, which equaled the number in the sanctuary.

I know that, since I’ve written about them before, you are eager to see as many inscriptions about privileged altars as possible.

Speaking of pawns… this is the “Monte di Pietà”, near Campo de’ Fiori and Ss. Trinità and, of course, the Jewish quarter or “ghetto”.

Back to pawns… but not chess pawns.

The building from the 17th c., substituted the so-called “monte dei pegni” or “monte di pieta” which could be rendered as “pawnshop” which was established by Paul III (Farnese) in 1539 for lending money on pledge.  This was formed to combat usury on the part of the Jews in the nearby quarter.  Carlo Moderno did work on it. The bell tower with clock is Borromini. You must read The Genius in the Design: Bernini, Borromini, and the Rivalry That Transformed Rome by Jake Morrisey.  US HERE – UK HERE

It’s a terrific account of the careers of these two pivotal figures, once partners, then rivals, a huge success with ups and downs and a genius who committed suicide.  Borromini is buried in the Florentine national church, which I am sure is getting ready for Friday.

As it turns out, the square and streets around “Pawnshop Palace” are still lined with pawnshops.  As a matter of fact, the late Fr. Luigi Parrone, who grew up in the building with the big rectangular door in the photo below, recounted how in the spring Roman women would come here to pawn their expensive furs, so they would be stored in climatized vaults, and then get them out of hock in the fall.

This old advertisement has happily been preserved on the side of the square.  There is a whole cult, I think, of Italian poster art and advertising that is special.  No one did it better.

I’m not sure that the whole “combat usury” thing worked all the time.  Romans came to call the place “Monte d’Empietà… ‘heap’ of godlessness'”.  It seems the interest might have been a little high.

Finally, my alstroemeria is doing well.  It isn’t the very brightest of colors, but it tends to endure.  Thanks for the flowers, dear donors.  They brighten things.

Yesterday, I said Holy Mass for my Roman Sojourn Donors.  As my days here wane, I appreciate you that much more.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. JonPatrick says:

    Those chess sets look like the kind that people have just to put in their living rooms to look cool not to actually play with. Myself I prefer pieces that look like traditional chess pieces. As with the Mass I am not in favor of change for the sake of change.

    While on the subject of chess, I recently got the “opening blunders” book. Was a little disappointed as I thought it would explain more about why certain moves are blunders, rather than just listing the move and what the person should have played. But it does have a great list of openings and their variations that one can play through and help learn more about them.

  2. I get what you mean about “explain more”. However, two things. First, Bill Wall generally produces “miniatures”. Next, I have found that if I sit down with a board and start moving through a game, I reason to the principle behind the blunder.

    I’ll tell you where I have my biggest problem with blunders: the middle game. Oy veh.

  3. Uniaux says:

    Since one of the pictures was the description about the requirements for sanctuary, I’ve been wondering: why does it not seem to be recognized anymore? I can think of far too many examples of priests getting arrested and detained while saying Mass in their own churches during all the covid stuff.

    And those are a lot of neat looking chess sets.

  4. DeeEmm says:

    Father, I am so very grateful for the pictures and YouTube videos from your trip. It is unlikely, though not impossible, that I will ever visit Rome so it is a treat to have these to admire. Thank you for all the effort you put into sharing with us.

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