The spin-cycle on this euro-washer is going to kill me.

Cute little low-water use euro-washers! Argh! I swear I’ve been ready to go for an HOUR but I want to hang this load of laundry out to dry.
We can’t turn in grades online until Thursday of next week – grrr. Nick and I are finished and ready to hit the submit button. The Ruths left for the Veneto about an hour ago, and wlll come back via Toscana before flying back to America in mid-May. I leave Rome Monday for the center and north – Bologna (and environs), Milano (and environs). Then back to Rome a week from tomorrow, and back to America a week from Monday!
Sometime in there I really should consider writing my paper for Kalamazoo, not just thinking about it. After all, I’ll only be in Geneva for 3 days before leaving for western Michigan! That’s barely time enough to check some references.

Another Iconographical Oddity – the Holy Family in Nazareth

Now if may strike you as odd that St Joseph is not old in this panel showing the Holy Family in his workshop in Nazareth. It’s an outlier, but there is certainly opinion to support it (and nothing but extra-scriptural texts to suggest that he was old). St Josemaria used the younger St Joseph somewhere to explain the Holy Family as a more realistic model for modern families than the Old Man / Virgin pairing of so much religious art, where the iconographical tradition of the melancholic St Joseph sitting in the background would not have appealed to St Josemaria.
Chiesa San Josemaria Escriva - Altarpiece - Workshop of Joseph
That’s all well and good – but why are they working on metal vessels instead of carpentry? THAT I’ve never heard of. On the other hand, if they are repairing things, I can read them as TINKERS. I.e., do the classic relate-yourself-to-the-narrative thing.

Adventure in the (former) Campana near EUR

Chiesa San Josemaria Escriva - Exterior
Today I took a LONG bus ride…. If you ride the 716 for 45 stops from Teatro Marcello you get to the front gate of the Church of Saint Josemaria Escriva, founder of Opus Dei. The church was built after his 1992 beatification, and dedicated in 1996. It’s a simple, modern building – clean lines on the exterior and interior. It’s set in a 1980s-90s office park and residential area (high rises), so recent that the bus passed a couple of big working olive groves. You know, I could be in Gwinett County, Georgia — there are any number of post-1985 Catholic churches there like this – minus the palm tree in front. What the parish web page refers to as a style of romanit√† might be semplicit√†. Or, to be a little more harsh, banalit√†. This is not very inspiring, and the scale difference between the church and surrounding buildings is rather the reverse of the city of Rome, where most little parish churches are about the same scale as their surroundings and the basilicas dominate everything. Welcome to the 20th Century.
The interior is very plain, with the exception of the altar area. There are relics of St Josemaria under the glass-fronted altar. The altarpiece, by a Spanish artist named Armando Pareja, is a little odd. Scenes from the life of Christ concentrating on the life in Nazareth — very Opus Dei, that, with the interest in Joseph. Click to see the whole thing. One odd choice – St Joseph and Jesus are shown working on metal vessels, not doing carpentry. I have NO idea what that’s about. See the next entry for detail.
Then in the center is the tabernacle – visible through a cut-out. According to the parish website this is a normal arrangement for Renaissance Spain.
The top center panel shows St Josemaria enjoying the Beatific Vision. I need some interpretation from my more specialized friends – he’s wearing a cope — but what is he wearing underneath it?
Chiesa San Josemaria Escriva - Top of Altarpiece
Parrochia San Josemaria.
On my way back I took a long walk in EUR! Pictures and discussion to follow.

So do I have malaria now?

I was attacked in the night by mosquitoes. When I got home yesterday evening two windows were open – bathroom for ventilation and bedroom because I had some clothes drying. I swatted a bug or two and closed the windows.
The ones I didn’t get got me! Most annoyingly, there’s a bite on one of my fingers in a place where the nail from another finger can catch it almost involuntarily. I’m afraid I’m going to scratch that one bloody if I don’t put a bandaid on it.
Meanwhile, I combine two of my notable characteristics — strong historical background and hypochondria. Did they REALLY wipe out the malaria so long endemic in Italy?

Another step closer . . .

This is not a particularly pretty Holy Saturday, so I’ve been home most of the day (and run an errand or two). That allowed me to finish all of my grading and to email out 2 different kinds of evaluations to the students (one for Layers and one for the whole group). I’m meeting Nick and his crew at Piazza della Sta Maria in Trastevere in a bit, where we will rendezvous with our colleague from la Sapienza and her partner for farewell drinks (yes, I’m in that circuit now). And then maybe a phone call home, then the Easter Vigil at 10 at Chiesa Nuova. I’m in the wind-down now.


From Castel Sant'Angelo
The last presentation today (but not the last presentation for the semester – that’s tomorrow) was at Castel Sant’Angelo. On my way down from the parapets I DROPPED MY CAMERA. It wouldn’t turn on. My colleague Nick suggested checking the internet – and while I was messing with it something POPPED! My camera works again! WHEW.

Sono stanco!

Tired, that is.
Four more presentations today, and LOTS of exercise while hearing them. Santa Francesca Romana (which I had never really studied all that closely before), Sta Maria in Aracoeli (hike up those stairs!), Theater of Marcellus, and Baths of Caracalla. And then I walked the length of the Circus Maximus on the way home (it was a lovely afternoon) and kept on walking. I went round the back side of the Forum enclosure, along some streets I’ve never taken. I saw a church John Paul II gave to the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Constantinople (San Theodoro), but there was a service going on, vespers of some sort, so I didn’t get in.
So, tired, but halfway through the Layers students and quite happy.
Yay, Roma!

Presentations under way!

Yesterday a group of us heard 3 presentations. Students talked about Sta Maria in Trastevere, Tiber Island, and the Sacral Area at Largo Argentina. All of them went well! Today we have a physical outlier — we will finish up at the Baths of Caracalla. For some reason it’s always a long hike BACK from there! I think I have the logistics working well, though, all in all.

The end is nigh!

Everything is accelerating to the end.
We had our last Layers of Rome class meeting today. As of this evening I have scheduled 3 sessions-full of student presentations. More on that later!
So we finished the Layers course with one of the canonical comparisons…San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane and Sant’Andrea al Quirinale, Borromini and Bernini respectively. The day started off overcast and there was even some rain spitting as we walked from Sant Andrea to San Carlino. While the students were drawing a rough plan of San Carlo, the sun came out strongly – and the whole world lit up in the form of that church. I didn’t have a camera with me (for once in my life!) and i’m not sorry. I’ll remember that bit of morning in Rome forever.