The ceremony begins with a mass and a reading from the Bible of the Passion of Christ. When the funeral procession is mentioned, the congregation exits the church to begin their procession through the streets of the old hilltop town. The parade is led by a penitent in a black gown, wearing a black hood and carrying a large cross. A young girl portraying the Virgin Mary follows. Mourners are clothed and veiled in black come next. Some of them carry the symbols resting on scarlet cushions. They include: a crown of thorns, a whip, nails, a hammer, tongs, and St. Veronica‘s shroud.
From the square, the Duomo, Milan’s cathedral, is stunningly beautiful. It looks fresh and cool in the heat of the day. In the afternoon, it radiates with the warm late afternoon, early evening light. At night, it glows.
It took centuries to build and spent most of its life as a construction zone. Started in 1386, the building continued until 1810. They added the final touches in 1965. Renovations began shortly thereafter. Go figure. As a result, the inside is a mish-mash of architectural styles and materials. It is huge (housing over 40,000 only the Vatican’s, London’s and Seville’s are larger). With 52 hundred-foot pillars, over 2000 statues (just inside) and countless enormous paintings, you didn’t know where to look. It was a bit overwhelming and the huge mix of styles made it hard to process.
It contains everything, including the kitchen sink. It’s so big, there has to be one in there somewhere. Some of the more interesting items include:
- The body of Saint Carl Borromeo in a glass casket in the crypt.
- Rappers aren’t the only men who like to wear a lot of bling. Apparently, priests and/or cardinals do as well.
- On a similar note, kings aren’t the only ones who like to wear crowns.
- That little red dot to the right above the altar is where they keep a nail reputed to be the one that nailed Christ’s right hand.
- This guy was a little creepy. Check out the hand.
- Although the ceiling (second photo above) looks carved, it is actually a much more budget-friendly trompe l’oeil paint effect. Top that Trading Spaces.
- Even the marble floor is interesting. We learned that black marble is harder than other marbles. As a result, the different colors in the floor have worn unevenly. Amazingly, you can feel it when you walk!
- My favorite thing inside was the 16th century statue carved by a student of Leonardo da Vinci. It depicts Saint Bartolommeo, a Christian martyr who was skinned alive by the Romans. It is grotesque, but is an amazing depiction of human anatomy and a powerful sculpture in its own right. Ironically, the knowledge of human anatomy needed to sculpt this was only available from dissection, something prohibited by the Catholic church at the time of sculpting.