Italy Travel Journal | Catherine of Siena | Adventure

Part of my homework for last week was to simply journal and reflect on my experience in Orvieto. It’s been hard for me to think about anything other my experience! My head has been cloudy at all hours of the day, discerning what is the next step for my life. The more I think and pray about it, the more I am positive that I will be moving this fall, and that bring a lot of things to do and risks to take to make it happen. But I am certain it is what I need to do – mostly because I know God is speaking to me when I get hyper emotional and the thought consumes my mind.

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Our group outside San Domenico (thanks Lindsey for the photo!).

That being said, I am trying to separate the specific next step I heard from God to reflect on the rest of the experience – mostly the art we saw, since medieval art was the focus of the trip. It is not often that a piece of art grabs me in a way that evokes strong emotions. Usually I pass by, look at the piece, and think “oh, that’s nice – I like the colors and how detailed this is” or something of the sort. I had that same experience with most of the art I saw in Italy – not because it wasn’t magnificent (it was!) or full of rich historical background and fame, but because I’ve never connected with art on that personal of a level.  There were a few pieces in Italy that did evoke an emotional response from me, though (including Michaelangelo’s David, Signorelli’s Holy Family, various pieces of Etruscan pottery found in tombs from the 6th century BC, and various sculptures by Donatello), and although I haven’t quite figured out what it was about them that was so different from the rest, I know I thought they were beautiful. Today I will reflect on one piece in particular.

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The Basilica of San Domenico (left) in Siena.

The first was a piece inside San Domenico, a basilica in Siena that houses the head and finger of Saint Catherine of Siena (yes, the literal head and finger of the saint). Unfortunately, pictures were not allowed, so I was not able to snap a photo and I cannot find a picture of it online. The piece was a stained glass window. It was a vibrant purple and had bridge shards of color piercing throughout. It showed three separate scenes of Catherine with Jesus. The only scene of the three that I remember was Jesus on the cross giving Catherine the host during communion. This piece made me stop and stare for a while, and it was one of few pieces I inquired about afterwards, hoping to find more information. I didn’t learn much, but I wish there was some way I was able to capture it (or even just remember the rest of the scenes!).

Why did this impact me?

I think because communion is typically something we do to experience Christ; a way for us to connect with Him and experience the Last Supper as the disciples did.

To be present in Christ’s final moments on earth. In this image, Christ is personally giving communion to Catherine, just as He did with His disciples. It is intimate, and it implies a close friendship and relationship. It implies Catherine was connecting with Christ on a truly deep level. It implies she was present with Him. And I wish that I was always present and intimate with Him on the same level that the image implied Catherine was. In fact, I wish that for all of us.

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Most of our group overlooking Siena (thanks Chan for the photo!).

How do you pursue intimacy with Christ? How do you make (and keep) yourself present with Him?

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