The Roamin' Roman

Benvenuto! You have happened upon the blog of a wandering Catholic American college student studying for a year in Rome, the Eternal City. You will find here my pontifications, ruminations, reflections, images, and ponderings on my life in Rome. Ciao!

Monday, February 27

Marvels of Ravenna, Lent, Station Churches, etc etc etc...

So - I hope everyone had a good weekend! We sure did here, we went as a class to the northern Italian city of Ravenna, historically very important as the "meeting point" between the Eastern and Western Roman Empires. The ancient churches in Ravenna are some of the most well-preserved in the world, dating from the 6th century AD, and filled with intricate mosaics and fascinating architecture.

Whether you look at it from a theological perspective or as an art historian, Ravenna has got to be one of the top places on the list to see if you are in Italy for any length of time (and/or going to be in the Venice/Bologna areas, as it is conveniently near to them both). Ravenna is of particular note to Christian historians and theology buffs, since it is also one of the centers of the Arian heresy - there are a few impressive exmaples of Arian churches/bapisteries there, as well as some equivalant orthodox Christian ones for comparison. Even more fun for all can be found in San Appolinaire Nouvo where the Arians first built it and then the orthodox took over and modified it a bit. Sidenote: now, I'm not talking about the Eastern Orthodox church here, this is around 500 years before that split happens, around 1099 AD! "Orthodox" here simply means what it means - holding fast to the understanding which has been given down through the generations, in this case, specifically regarding the orthodox teachings of Christ and of His apostles with regards to His divinity and humanity as opposed to the Arian belief in Jesus being the highest of creatures, not God Himself incarnate on earth as the orthodox believers held.

Anyway - so Sr. Helen and Dr. Baccilini took the whole household up to Ravenna on Saturday morning. We first went to the church of San Vitale, a "church in the round" (kind of a Byzantine style), and Galla Placida, a mauseleom with gorgeous mosaic work. Then, we saw the famous Arian baptistery and headed out to San Appolinare in Classe. On Sunday, we rounded out the tour of the sights of Ravenna by going to Dante's tomb, the Orthodox baptistery, the Cathedral, and San Apollinaire Nouvo (the church that was originally Arian and then in the hands of the orthdox, who changed it up a bit to remove the potentially heretical art). Whew! Long weekend. Then, today was a bit of a long day at classes, I had class all day and a lot of reading to do (and still to do...).

I am going to post a bunch of photos from Ravenna, with very brief descriptions... sorry, but I need to sleep at some point and if I wait to do it later, well, there probably won't be a later! Why? Well, dang, tomorrow is Mardi Gras Tuesday (yay - Amy Welborn is coming over for Fat Tuesday dinner here; we're pretty excited!). Then, of course, it must be Ash Wednesday, and that means Lent is starting, and if Lent is starting and I'm in Rome, then that means that I am going to be participating in the Lenten Station Churches walk every day. Which means lots more photos and stuff to talk about. Yikes.

Which brings me to my last point - for Lent I will only be blogging about once a week, probably on Sundays. I've decided that the blog is really taking up a bit more of my time than it really should be, as cool and useful as it is for my parents, family, friends, friends' friends, friends' friends' friends, co-workers, random onlookers, and pets to keep tabs on me and my life in Rome. Sorry guys, but that's the way the spiritual cookie crumbles!


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