They opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh
Matthew 2: 11

Photos for Today  Special thanks to Alison, Joseph, & Mike Galvin!

Singing in Padua

Prayers for Today

IN THE MORNING:  The Basilica of San Vitale, Ravenna

The Basilica of San Vitale was begun in 527, and completed in 548. It is one of the most important examples of Byzantine art and architecture in the world, and constitutes the largest collection of Byzantine mosaic outside of Constantinople. The entire building is covered with splendid mosaic; but none are more famous than those of Justinian and Theodora, the Emperor and Empress, in the choir. They are shown with Bishop Maximian, who dedicated the church, bringing gifts for the celebration of the liturgy. Justinian carries the paten, Theodora the chalice. There is a fountain of water. The Bishop brings the cross; white-robed ministers hold the book and thurible. These mosaics inspired an entire book by Lutheran theologian Gordon Lathrop, who sees represented here the ‘holy things’ for the ‘holy people,’ the essentials for worship: “The book tells the story of the cross, the bath washes into its meaning, the cup gives to drink from it.” The importance of these gifts is underscored by the art itself: if you look closely at the depiction of Theodora, you will see the three wise men depicted on the hem of her robe.

Praying over the Gifts

Lord, make us worthy to bring you these gifts. May this sacrifice help to change our lives. We ask this in the name of Jesus the Lord. (Prayer over the Gifts for Lent I. At every Mass the prayer over the gifts reminds us that we must be transformed even as our gifts of bread and wine are transformed in the Eucharist.)

Intentions for this Morning

PILGRIMS TO ROME & PILGRIMS AT HOME: What gifts do I bring to the liturgy? Do I bring the gift of my weekly presence, my “full, conscious, active” participation? Or do I let myself sometimes, be more a performer or a spectator than a participant, truly offering the Mass together with the priest? Let us pray that we will bring to the public worship of the Church the gifts of mind, heart, and voice. Let us pray too that we may share more generously with others what God has given us. We ask for eyes to see the need of others; and for the wisdom to understand what we can do to help.


IN THE AFTERNOON:  Firenze - Santa Trinità

Lord, I love the beauty of your house, the place where your glory dwells
Antiphon for the Dedication of a Church

The Church of Santa Trinità

This church, built in the second half of the 11th century, has undergone many transformations in its long history. The facade was added in the 16th century, the interior renovated in a Gothic style in the 19th century, and the church is rich in works of art from other periods: the Sassetti Chapel by Domenico Ghirlandaio is filled with wonderful frescoes of the life of St. Francis, and an even more wonderful altarpiece of the Nativity of the Lord. For pilgrims from St. James Cathedral, Santa Trinità has another attraction: frescoes by Neri di Bicci, the Florentine artist who painted the altarpiece Madonna and Child with Six Saints (1456) in the Cathedral Chapel. Churches are not museums; and if a church is alive it is never finished. Every generation brings its own sense of what is beautiful, its own style of worship, to its house of prayer.

Beauty Matters

Society needs artists, just as it needs scientists, technicians, workers, professional people, witnesses of the faith, teachers, fathers and mothers, who ensure the growth of the person and the development of the community. The Church needs art. Art must make perceptible, and as far as possible attractive, the world of the spirit, of the invisible, of God. It must therefore translate into meaningful terms that which is in itself ineffable.. Beauty is a key to the mystery and a call to transcendence. It is an invitation to savor life and to dream of the future. (Pope John Paul II, Letter to Artists, Easter 1999

Intentions for this Afternoon

Pilgrims to Rome: Today let us give thanks for the gifts of artists, and pray that artists of our own generation will continue to find new ways to bring beauty to worship through painting, sculpture, music, and architecture. 

Pilgrims at Home: We have a little piece of Florence in the wonderful Renaissance altarpiece by Neri di Bicci (c. 1456) in the Cathedral Chapel.  Today, we pause here to give thanks for the beauty of our own Cathedral - and to pray that its beauty may inspire us to lives of faith and service.



How do you get from Venice to Ravenna?
How do you get from Ravenna to Florence?

Link to a 360 degree tour of San Vitale, Ravenna
Link to a 360 degree tour of the Apse of San Vitale, Ravenna (amazing!)
Link to a 360 degree tour of the Basilica of San Apollinare in Classe, Ravenna